After creating fun accessories to cheer up family and friends during lockdown, Nicola is now turning her products into a business with support from The Prince’s Trust.
Nicola, 29, who lives in Perth, decided to go back to college to study graphic design after working in the arts and social care. With some free time from the course during the first COVID-19 lockdown, she began to experiment with a borrowed 3D printer to create light-hearted badges, earrings and fridge magnets with Scottish slang and phrases, to lift the spirits of those close to her.
The feedback was so positive she was encouraged to list her products for sale online and after selling more than expected and receiving enquiries for wholesale orders, Nicola decided to make PickledSquid official.
But a lack of business knowhow and experience meant she wasn’t sure where to start. Nicola had heard about The Trust’s Enterprise programme while she worked at Impact Arts and was attracted to the course as she could not only learn vital business skills but have a mentor and apply for funding.
Nicola said: “I am a graduate who has experience working in the arts and social care and in 2018 I decided to go back to college to study graphic design to expand my knowledge and build upon my existing skills. With some free time from my course during the first lockdown, I started to make fun, light-hearted accessories to cheer up family and friends. These were positively received and so I listed my products for sale online under the businesses name PickledSquid.
Nicola found the sessions insightful and enjoyed the breakout groups which boosted her confidence. She also had to write a business plan and pitch to a panel of Trust volunteers. This allowed her to focus on priorities and face her finances. By taking part in the panel Nicola gained confidence to speak about her business under pressure and she was also successful in securing grant funding through The Prince’s Trust which allowed her to purchase a 3D printer to increase her capacity.
She added: “During the course it was great to speak to other young people who were in various stages of starting up their own business and bounce ideas off each other. We would often exchange contact details afterwards and support each other on social media. I looked forward to regular check in meetings which kept me focused and were great for discussing various directions to take my business.
“I’m now looking forward to expanding my product range and selling my products at in person craft markets this year. The funding from The Trust has been so helpful and now I’d like to find a suitable studio space where I can create products alongside my graphic design services. My aim is to gain recognition as a small brand synonymous with quality and build a base of wholesale customers.”