An entrepreneur's story - Business Works
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An entrepreneur's story

Paula McBretney, Founder, Bagz of Bugz I'm Paula, 33, born in North Yorkshire where I have lived all my life. I have just established my own business after months of frustration at being unable to find a full-time job following a period of ill health.

In January 2012 I was signed off work with depression and anxiety. This knocked my confidence and my life changed massively in the months to follow. I hadnít been married long (April 2011) and my husband and I were trying to build our life together, but were then faced with my illness.

In the September of 2012, I then lost my job due to my ill health. So, as well as my medical conditions, we had the added stress of worrying how we would manage to pay the bills. Initially I was placed onto ESA which is a Government-based benefit to help those unable to work, however, this later changed to JSA when the department for health deemed me fit to work.

So, from February 2013 I had to visit the Job Centre each fortnight and apply for six jobs a fortnight. In the space of six months I applied for hundreds of jobs. Bar work, retail, cleaning, office and admin to name a few ... but I never even got a single interview.

I wanted to earn my own living and just live normally again

I am AAT intermediate qualified and have been in accounts and customer service work for 16 years, however my latest job was as an admin supervisor in retail. I have good qualifications and a huge amount of experience, but as the weeks passed by and I got no interviews, I felt more and more de-motivated, deflated and desperate. I didnít want to visit the job centre every fortnight. I wanted a job. I wanted to earn my own living and just live normally again.

Life for me isnít about money. When I say that, what I mean is material things like expensive cars and big holidays arenít important to me. I just want to live comfortably with my husband and be happy that we can pay the bills and have food on the table.

Bagz of Bugz

During my illness in 2012 I began making pom poms as a bit of a hobby, something to get me through the long days and keep me busy. I had an idea to try and have a go at making some message bugs. They were popular when I was a child - we used to get them when we visited museums etc. with school. A brightly-coloured fluffy bug with a ribbon attached that had, for example, the museum name on. I did a lot of research into them and there are massive promo companies out there that make them for advertising, but they have minimum orders of around 250 - and they are not handmade!

So came my idea! How about making them on a smaller scale, with a card base with room for advertising information - or how about invites and gift tags. I asked friends and family what they thought and I made some for a few friends who had children. They used them to put into party bags as a 'thank you for coming to my party'. They went down a storm with the kids, they loved them. And the handmade value really makes people appreciate them that little bit more.

Bagz of Bugz

So, the success with the children helped me to come up with another idea. I really dislike the plastic party bags that are used at childrenís parties so I thought what a great idea cotton bags would be. The children then get to keep them and the personalisation is just a special added extra. We fill the bags with good quality gifts that the children will love. We also incorporate a personalised message bug into each bag - and they are more environmentally friendly!

This is when the name Bagz of Bugz was created. We wanted to incorporate the products we sell - bags and bugs - into our name and this was the perfect way. Also, the term 'bags of' refers to 'lots of'!

I sought advice from a mentor at the local business centre. I went to business seminars and from there and the knowledge I gained, I compiled my very first cashflow forecasts and a business plan. This plan was soon approved.

So, on the 27th August 2013, Bagz of Bugz was born. I didnít need a lot to finance it. No expensive equipment, tools, premises etc. Just some basic materials to get me going and through sales the rest would follow.

if I donít try then I will never know

I have been trading for just a few short weeks now and I have had fantastic support. I'm sure some people probably think I'm crazy, but if I donít try then I will never know if my business idea will be a success, nothing to lose and a lot to gain. I have my website over at www.bagzofbugz.co.uk, which I set up myself with a little help from my husband. I also have this linked with two social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter. These are invaluable tools to me and the best place to advertise and share my work.

I want the opportunity to share my work on a larger scale. Happy customers create more attention for my business and hopefully I can build a great client base for the future. I hope that people will appreciate the hard work that goes into each and every order and that no two orders will ever be exactly the same. These are so unique and I really believe there is space in the market place for my business.



For more information - and to order your 'bags of bugz', please visit: www.bagzofbugz.co.uk



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