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Advice, mentoring and case studies



LVNDR – short for ‘lavender’ – is the brainchild of 2nd year Broadcast Journalism student Em Sheldon and her brother, Adam, a University of Leeds English graduate. The online fashion accessories store has been trading since December 2013 and, although it’s early days, sales have been going well, boosted by Em’s reputation as a lifestyle blogger.

Em started her fashion, beauty and travel blog - Em Talks –two years ago, initially as a way to hone her journalism skills, but it’s quickly picked up a sizeable following especially after being voted a winner in Cosmopolitan magazine’s Blog Awards 2012. Interest in the blog - and in Em herself - prompted her to think about launching a potential sideline which incorporated her fashion style and knowledge into a structured business.

That is where Spark came in. With a successful blog, a business idea and a first draft of the website already prepared, Em had a plan but needed funding to buy the stock to make it work.

Spark helped me in a number of ways. First of all, the Enterprise Scholarship not only gave me the funds to buy stock, but also a place at Business Bootcamp which really cemented what I needed to know about writing a proper business plan and financing a business. Spark adviser John Hodgson also gave me some great public speaking tips; an essential skill with a public-facing enterprise like mine

LVNDR is a family affair; the stock is stored at the family home near Wetherby and packed by Em’s mother, while Adam was brought on board for his web and finance skills. Em already has the ideal vehicle to promote the business and so sales are coming thick and fast from readers of her blog.

Trading is going really well at the moment and whilst I am still at University I am happy to stick with the current business model. In time though, I would love to start designing my own lines and have them made, and possibly branch out into clothes as well.

Em will be spending the next academic year on placement at McGill University in Canada, as well as concentrating on her blog and overseeing LVNDR from a distance.

When asked, I always tell people to just go ahead, try out their ideas and give it a go. Every mistake is a learning point, but with expert advice out there from business start-up services like Spark, you can turn your idea into a business.