Jodie Gray had a difficult time when she was a teenager, leaving school with no qualifications. She started working as a cleaner to earn some money and with the support of The Prince’s Trust, turned it into a successful business. She’s now the CEO of Home of the Mall, a UK selling platform for small businesses.

“I left school at 15 with no qualifications and had my daughter at 17. I was on a rocky road of self-destruction, hanging out with the wrong crowd, suffering with anxiety and body dysmorphia. When I had my daughter, I knew I needed a job but had no idea how I would get employed. I hand-wrote 300 flyers for cleaning jobs at the age of 20, and was able to get a couple of cleaning jobs. I bought my daughter the Finding Nemo DVD with my first pay-check and I felt so inspired and motivated to keep working.”

I investigated further and found The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme. It was an incredible, life-changing programme for me. I was taught to run a business step-by-step, writing a business plan and doing courses on finance. More importantly they believed I could do it, which no one else ever did. I was a school dropout, a teenage mum, and in with the wrong crowd. The staff at The Prince’s Trust believed in me, and because they did, I had to believe in me too so I would not let them down.

“I’ll never forget the day at the end of the Enterprise course when I presented my idea to the Business Launch Panel and secured a grant a loan. I couldn’t believe the someone was going to give me money and believed in me. I had such low self-esteem but I was provided with an incredible mentor who was wonderful and kept me on track. We would meet up once a month and she would guide me through the process and check my books were up to date. It was invaluable support.”

“I got nominated for an award through The Prince’s Trust, and when HRH Prince Charles visited Northampton I was picked as a business to be showcased so I got to meet Prince Charles. Throughout the whole three year process my mentor stayed with me and I became a Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, telling my story and wearing the badge with pride. The Prince’s Trust changed my life completely. I would never have believed in myself without their support.”

“Now, I’m running Home of the Mall, a free selling platform for small businesses to list their products. I’ve been a small business owner my whole career, and I’m really passionate about supporting other small businesses. We launched in November 2020 and already have over 300 businesses listed. My advice to others? Don’t live your life by the cards you’ve been given, you don’t need to!”