Young Newcastle designer named winner of Tomorrow’s Business Awards.
The Prince’s Trust and NatWest have announced the winners of the first ever Tomorrow’s Business Awards which celebrate the positive impact starting a business can have on an individual, their community or the environment.
All businesses supported by The Trust to start-up in the last ten years were eligible to apply and three winners have been chosen from the hundreds of entries. One of those winners was Eleanor O’Neill, 27, from Newcastle.
Growing up in Newcastle, Eleanor always had a passion for design and began her career working in the fashion industry as a junior knitwear designer. During this time Eleanor faced some tough realisations about her dream career. She became disillusioned after witnessing first-hand the wasteful nature of the industry and found the job repetitive with no time for true creativity. Disheartened, Eleanor left her job with the hope of carving out her own, more meaningful path in the industry.
After spending time out of work, the turning point came when she found The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme and set up her business, study 34. Comforted by the fact that she had a safety net in The Prince’s Trust, Eleanor’s business soon took shape. The knitwear design company focuses on responsible fashion using sustainable materials. With support from The Trust, Eleanor’s ambition of producing functional yet innovative design had been realised and she was putting British knitwear firmly back on the map. As a knitwear studio, study 34 focuses on promoting British manufacture, responsible production and sustainable style. Eleanor also promotes ethical fashion and hopes to change attitudes towards consumption and encourage a relationship with clothing that places importance on quality over quantity, and a less wasteful society.
Eleanor said: “I’m hugely grateful to The Prince’s Trust for this award. Pursuing a path in the fashion industry can be challenging so it means a great deal to be recognised for it. Having someone as prominent as Steve Rowe giving up his valuable time to talk to me has been fantastic. Being able to exchange views on the British manufacturing industry, in particular knitwear, was incredibly useful.”
The three winners each received £3,000 from NatWest to invest in their business, a one-to-one mentoring session with either Lloyd Dorfman (founder of Travelex and Chairman of The Prince’s Trust), Steve Rowe (CEO of Marks & Spencer) or Claire Locke (Co-founder, Artigiano) alongside business-boosting workshops with industry experts.
Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “We’re proud of all the young people who, with our support, transform their lives and set up their own amazing businesses, so choosing the winners was difficult. These three businesses demonstrate firsthand the positive effects of the Enterprise programme, not only for the young entrepreneurs themselves but also in their local communities and the environment.”
A recent evaluation of the Enterprise programme found that businesses started with funding and mentoring support from The Trust are more likely to survive than those who go it alone. The research shows that 73% of Trust-supported businesses continue to operate into their third year, compared with the national figure of 61%. The figures demonstrate the effectiveness of the programme which creates a real and lasting difference to the lives of thousands of young people across the UK.
Marcelino Castrillo, managing director of Business Banking at NatWest, said: “Businesses which look to have a positive social or environmental impact are so important, both to the communities around them and the country as a whole. We hope these stories inspire more young people to take that first step into self-employment.”
With the help of NatWest, the Enterprise programme has been helping young people start up in business since 1983 and has supported more than 80,000 new ventures. Well known businesses which began with help from The Trust include household names Dynamo and kids’ suitcase business Trunki.
The Prince’s Trust works with 13 to 30 year-olds who have struggled at school, have been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. Three in four young people helped by The Prince’s Trust move into work, training or education.