Winner announced for £1,000 business challenge
- Teesside fashion store Look Good Feel Good wins £1,000 plus a £5,000 marketing package
- Owner Nikita Hatfield will also work with a Virgin Money mentor to build her business
A North East entrepreneur is celebrating after being crowned the winner of the £1,000 Business Challenge, in association with Virgin Money.
Nikita Hatfield, 22, owner of Teesside fashion store ‘Look Good Feel Good’, entered the Metro Radio competition, which was open to over 18s whether they were in their first year of trading or were hoping to bring a great business idea to market; with a 300 word business pitch for her independent fashion store that began online – Look Good Feel Good.
Competing against seven other semi-finalists in the contest, which was also supported by the Project North East Group and Virgin Unite, Nikita brought the Stockton-based business to life in front of a panel of enterprise experts from Virgin Money, Project North East, Virgin Unite and Metro Radio before being named among a shortlist of three.
It was then up to the three finalists to canvas for public votes via social media, and Nikita was delighted to be told of her victory live on Metro Radio. She said: “I couldn’t believe it and thought it was a joke at first.
“I am delighted and plan to use the prize money to improve the range of clothes and accessories I stock, including a larger shoe range, more real and fake hair extensions and I’d also like to introduce a size 14+ clothes range.”
Bringing you the latest trends, Look Good Feel Good, which is based inside the Regency West Mall in Stockton, also stocks lingerie, shoes, bags, hair, make up, perfume and young girls clothing at affordable prices, posting all over the UK and also offering a home delivery service.
Pete Wood, Virgin Money’s Head of Social Enterprise Projects, including the Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East and Cumbria, said: “We are delighted to be able to support driven young business minds in new and innovative ways, and this challenge has been part of that.
“All the business ideas that were submitted were great and we want to thank everyone for taking part. Now we are looking forward to working more closely with Nikita and seeing her business grow over the coming months.”
The Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East and Cumbria has already helped over 100 new business in the region and is delivered through a consortium including Virgin Money, Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) – with PNE being the consortium partner responsible for arranging and making the loans.
The scheme continues to open doors for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 who have a great business idea. Loans range from £500 to £25,000 with new ‘Lean Start-Up Loans’, of up to £1,000, aimed at those who would like to carry out market research before launching, or need a bit of a push to begin trading. With funding still to be awarded in the North East and Cumbria during 2013, successful applicants can benefit from Virgin Money’s mentoring support and Project North East’s many years’ working specifically with young business people.
To find out more about the Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East, as well as the new ‘Lean’ loans and how to apply, young entrepreneurs should visit startuploansnortheast.co.uk.
Tel: 0191 279 4676
Notes to Editors
The Start-Up Loans scheme for young entrepreneurs was formally launched at Virgin Money’s Gosforth operational headquarters on Tuesday 20 November 2012.
Virgin Money has partnered with Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) to form a consortium in the delivery of ‘Start-Up Loans’ – with PNE being the consortium partner responsible for arranging and making the loan.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), through Start-Up Loans, is providing funding to be offered in the form of small business start-up loans in the North East and Cumbria. The initiative is aimed at young entrepreneurs between 18 and 30 years of age. Loan sizes are between £250 and £25,000, with an average of around £5,000.
The consortium also provides a training, mentoring and engagement programme, to enable unemployed young people and young people from the region’s deprived areas to learn how to run a business and to find out more about the Start-Up Loans programme.
PNE is regulated under the Consumer Credit Act and is responsible for making the loans and administering the full lending process. PNE has nearly thirty years experience of successfully undertaking this type of work in the region, partnering organisations such as the Sainsbury family trusts and Royal Dutch Shell. More information about PNE can be found at www.pne-enterprise.org and information on start-up loans can be found at www.startuploansnortheast.co.uk.