The determination not to let ill-health rule her life saw Outset Cornwall client Tina Care-Willoughby went it alone to set up a successful new business.
After having to give up work in 1997 due to her condition, Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, which, among other symptoms, can severely affect the lungs, Tina took stock of her situation.
Being a talented artist she started toying with the idea of selling her work and starting her own business in 2011, but her confidence levels had taken a tumble and she felt unprepared to start up on her own.
“After so long out of work, my confidence was very low and I was unsure that starting a business was right for me,” she said. ‘I’d describe myself as one of life’s fighters, a very resourceful person and after everything, working from home as an artist seemed like something I could achieve.”
Tina found out about Outset Cornwall programme through the Real Ideas Organisation and began attending sessions in Truro. “Outset Cornwall helped with my confidence so much. By mixing with the group and gaining new knowledge I began to consider myself a business woman.”
Although Tina loved her art she decided it wasn’t a reliable way to make enough money to ensure she could stop claiming some benefits and become more financially independent and it was a chance comment from a dog trainer that inspired her second business in early 2011.
“I did the whole programme with Outset with the idea of becoming a self-employed artist. Some months after the programme had finished the idea of ‘Paws for Cake’ came about.
“One thing I love is walking my dog Nelly and last year my husband Pete and I began taking her along to agility classes with the National Animal Welfare Trust.”
It was while she and Nelly were attending these sessions that one of the trainers told her liver cake would help with dog obedience, so she trawled the internet for a recipe.”
Tina laughed: “It was very smelly to make liver cake but not only did Nelly love it; a number of my friends asked me to make their dogs some too. I became really excited about the potential and decided to take the plunge and set up Paws For Cake.”
With her new idea, Tina came back to Outset for some one-to-one advice from her Advisor. “Outset were invaluable in giving me the confidence to take the idea and run with it, and now I’ve not looked back.”
“The best thing I learned from the programme is that businesses can be whatever you want them to be and can work around you. Also the programme changed my way of thinking about what I could achieve; it gave me so much more confidence in my abilities.”
When asked about the future, Tina is beaming with excitement and feeding off the energy from her new business. “I’m creating new products all the time to keep it interesting for people so I will be defiantly creating more. I will be looking at employing someone in the near future and could possibly look at a premises next year as the business grows. I’m steadily getting my products out to more outlets.”
“I have been amazed at the progress of my new business. Nothing can prepare you for the hard work but it is defiantly worth it. I am enjoying having the control of what I do and when. My business also gets me out mixing with lots of people which I love. I’m also incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved.”
Tina’s has proactively looked for collaborations with other business, and found a great partnership in fellow CEW member Philippa Barton who runs Boutique Retreats. Tina supplies her range of dog biscuits in the holiday cottage letting company’s dog-friendly welcome packs!
She has now also attended a number of dog shows and events to promote her dog biscuits, which are all handmade only using natural ingredients, and which one customer described as “great with a glass of wine”. Tina is now supplying a number of outlets such as Kingsley Village and Trevaskis Farm shop and has even produced a ‘pasty’ dig treat for Ann’s Pasties.
“I’m so determined to make a success of Paws For Cake. Nelly helps me enjoy life and stay healthy and my husband, family and friends are all a huge help. This support, along with the help of Outset Cornwall and Cornwall Enterprising Women, has given me the freedom to start to earn an independent living.”
Tina says – “The programme was very friendly and informal which instantly put me at ease. For me, attending the course gave me the chance to learn with a wide variety of people who all worked well together, giving me the feeling of support and being part of a group.”