Because of the Tomorrow’s Business Awards, supported by NatWest, we spent the summer looking for entrepreneurs who wanted to develop their business while making a positive difference to themselves, their local community or their environment. It was a lot of fun and very inspiring.

When the competition closed on the 30 August, over 300 Trust supported businesses had entered! The fact that so many people have created employment for themselves by starting their own business is something we can all celebrate, but we had to choose some winners.

We’ll be announcing the three victors soon, but we wanted to shout about the amazing young entrpreneurs who were shortlisted (and who gave the judges such a hard time choosing the eventual winners).

Thanks to our amazing panel of judges for taking on this almost impossible task.

The shortlist

James Baldwin, London: Baldwin James, the bookthrone

James Baldwin

James approached The Prince’s Trust in late 2014, with an idea for manufacturing furniture whilst supporting ex-offenders back into society.

It was whilst working with young offenders in prison that James discovered offenders found it difficult to stay out of trouble upon release because job prospects were few.  He was keen to use his company to change that – determined to build a workforce of ex-offenders who received fair pay.

Through his company, Baldwin James, James created the bookthrone, a handcrafted, all British, library armchair.  Manufactured from British materials and storing up to 300 books, the bookthrone allows the reader to immerse themselves in books they love. For every order placed, he plants a tree and he aims to employ solely ex-offenders, paying them the Living Wage or higher. James is adamant that his business mirrors his own personal values.

Melanie Blane, Kilmarnock: White Rabbit Skincare

Melanie Blane

In early 2015, Melanie approached The Prince’s Trust requesting loan and mentoring support to help her skincare company, White Rabbit Skincare, make the leap from kitchen table hobby to large scale enterprise.

With a vision to be ‘the most influential natural and vegan skincare company in the world’, White Rabbit Skincare is a luxury, cruelty free skincare brand. The products are handmade in-house, 100% vegan and naturally derived.

Melanie has been committed to social and environmental change from the start, from employing local people to providing 100% fully recyclable product packaging and donating to charitable causes. With interest from abroad and plans to move into offline as well as online sales, White Rabbit Skincare looks set to continue to grow.

Alex Lewis, Swansea: SURVIVA Ltd

Alex Lewis

Alex enrolled on the Enterprise programme in 2009, looking for support in setting up his business SURVIVA, manufacturing lifesaving, heat-reflective equipment.

The inspiration for SURVIVA came to Alex following a premature end to his athletics career.  Keen to help save lives whilst contributing to the local economy via employment and supporting UK manufacturing, Alex also found that it gave him a renewed sense of purpose and direction.

SURVIVA products are made onsite in Swansea, using materials from the UK, to produce lifesaving equipment.  It works closely with Air Ambulance and with homeless groups to develop specific products to help individuals in life or death situations.  The organisation has also contributed its resources to work on the life limiting condition Reynaud’s and partnered with University of South Wales as part of a group looking at developing wearable technology to help reduce the impact of the condition.

SURVIVA continues to grow and following a stint as a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador, Alex has now become a Big Ideas Wales role model, giving inspiring talks to other young people.

Thomas Jones, Rotherham: Props Skate Store

Tom Jones

In 2011, Thomas came to The Trust with an idea to open a skate shop in his home town. The result is Props Skate Store, still going strong five years later.

After school Tom lived at home while looking for work. But after facing unemployment for more than a year, he felt depressed about his future. A life-long skater himself Tom never thought that he could turn his passion into a business but Enterprise changed that.

Now, as well as catering to the core skateboarding community with clothing and equipment, Tom helps to meet the wider needs of young people in a town that is in the process of regeneration. The business has evolved and now has its own clothing label and aspires to provide skate tuition in a safe environment by building a half-pipe on-site.

Christopher Atkins, Lincoln: Move-it Mobility

Christopher Atkins

It was while helping his grandmother with her mobility exercises that Christopher hit upon the idea of a formal exercise and activities programme for elderly and disabled people, particularly those based in care homes.

With a background in sports and education and having delivered similar programmes to teenagers, Christopher approached The Prince’s Trust in 2015 to develop Move-It Mobility, a company which delivers chair based exercises, activities and games in care homes.  Currently serving 150 care homes throughout Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas, the programmes bring a fun, competitive environment into care homes.  Not only do the activities promote mobility, they also provide positive stimulation for the mind and improved well-being.  With two members of staff already on board, Move-It Mobility is continuing to grow.

Eleanor O’Neill, Newcastle: study 34 (S34)

Eleanor O

Growing up in Newcastle, Eleanor always had a passion for design and ended up working in the fashion industry as a junior knitwear designer.

After witnessing first-hand the wasteful nature of the industry she became disillusioned and left her job. After spending time out of work, the turning point came when she found the Enterprise programme and founded S34.

As a knitwear studio S34 focusses on promoting British manufacture, responsible production and sustainable style. Eleanor also promotes ethical fashion through her blog on the Huffington Post 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.

Sherry Diaz-Thompson, Staffordshire: Safe Hearts Training

Sherry has an inherited, life-long condition which has seen her require first aid from colleagues, by-standers and family members.  When she found that no-one would employ her owing to the number of sick days she had taken in previous jobs, Sherry decided to set up her enterprise.  She approached The Prince’s Trust in 2015 to start Safe Hearts Training Limited, a service which provides online and classroom courses throughout England and Wales in workplace first aid, paediatric first aid, health and safety, food hygiene and healthcare sector training.  In addition, it supplies life-saving equipment and essential training.

For Sherry, working in the health sector and being able to give something back was a natural career progression. Since starting Safe Hearts Training, she has delivered 60 courses to over 700 people. She also offers free first aid courses to members of the public, which have helped others back into education or work.

Kathryn Kimbely, Wolverhampton: HumAnima CIC

Inspired by her own personal experience, Kathryn wanted to set up her own social enterprise offering mental health support through Counselling and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).  She came to The Prince’s Trust in 2010 to help bring her idea to life in the form on HumAnima CIC.

A qualified counsellor, Kathryn works with a canine co-therapist, Flossie, to provide free and low cost counselling to disadvantaged communities in Wolverhampton, as well as training counsellors and health professionals in AAT. HumAnima CIC has been able to support parents of children accessing Children’s Centres in the three most deprived areas of Wolverhampton and through her work with Flossie, found significant and positive progress is made in sessions. The value of Kathryn’s course has been recognised and endorsed by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.

Laura Padilla, Carrickfergus: The Wholesome Bakery

Laura Padilla

Laura recently came to The Prince’s Trust to gain support starting her baking business, The Wholesome Bakery, with the intention of contributing to her community.

Following extensive research, Laura found that people wanted healthier products in coffee shops but struggled to find them, so she created artisanal products that promote better eating choices using alternatives to sugar and reducing the total calories per unit. Her freshly baked Strawberry-Coconut Biscuits, Almond Delights, and Sweet Apple Tarts are going to be sold in popular cafes throughout Greater Belfast.

Laura also wants to set an example for other young entrepreneurs and mothers in Northern Ireland, demonstrating that having a family and being an entrepreneur are not mutually exclusive. She says the way she makes it work is to be present in whatever you are doing, whether it’s baking, taking care of the baby, contacting new clients, etc. then you will be more efficient and enjoy the moment much more!

Francesca Brown, Orpington: Goals4Girls

Francesca Brown

Francesca faced challenges throughout her teenage years. With her father in prison, she didn’t have strong relationships with either of her parents and found herself  experiencing depression while also caring for her grandmother. She dreamed of being a professional footballer but an injury put an end to her career.

In 2015 she joined the Enterprise programme and launched, Goals4Girls, a football development programme for young girls aged 11-16, offering coaching, workshops, qualifications, trips as well as mentoring sessions focusing on life skills and personal development. She also looks after her four year son, who she counts as her biggest inspiration.