Salford entrepreneur Katrina Urwin is bringing the work of local designers to a new and discerning audience, thanks to Start Up Now, the North West arm of the government’s national £150m Start Up Loans programme.
Having worked in fashion for the past ten years, Katrina, 30, launched her online jewellery and accessories store Hoochie Mama to showcase statement jewellery and accessories from contemporary and independent designers at affordable prices. Over the Christmas period Hoochie Mama sales increased by over 200%, thanks largely to customers buying gifts for family and friends and Katrina is building on that success by bringing even more designers and artists on board to increase the diversity and appeal of the range.
Hoochie Mama features many Manchester designers including handmade leather rucksacks from Grafea, colour popping digital printed clutch bags from Rianna Phillips, and acrylic jewellery from Wonderhaus. Hoochie Mama is also the first official UK stockist for Coco and Breezy, twin designers from Brooklyn, New York whose designs are popular with celebrities including Nicki Minaj, Kelly Osborne and Rihanna. www.hoochiemama.me also features gift ideas, a newsletter, inspirational blogs, seasonal suggestions and a range of interviews with designers and companies. Katrina plans to continue building the website brand and customer base, as well as collaborating with featured designers to create exclusive Hoochie Mama items in the future.
Katrina has enjoyed a long career in fashion, most recently working at the Manchester Fashion Network, a business networking company designed to connect the fashion industry in the north, managing their website and hosting events in both Manchester and London. Katrina’s love of fashion inspired her new business venture and she said: “I wanted to build an online store where people could buy unique quality statement pieces at attainable prices; jewellery and accessories that you won’t see on everyone else and that can be treasured, unlike a lot of the throwaway, fast fashion we see today. Our prices start from £15 but, because we feature independent and contemporary designers, you know you’re getting something a little bit special and unusual. Manchester is home to many fabulous designers and I’m delighted to be able to bring their work to a wider audience.
“The £3k loan I received from Start Up Now enabled us to invest in our first season of stock and get the website live. We’re also working with them by attending various workshops including learning more on book-keeping and fraud awareness.”
Katrina received her loan from Start Up Now, the North West arm of the national £150m Start Up Loans programme delivered by Business Finance Solutions. Start Up Now will see £15 million allocated to new start-ups across the North West over the next two years, creating around 3000 new businesses and over 5000 new jobs in the region.
Paul Breen, Director of Business Finance Solutions, said: “Katrina is a great example of a business that is benefitting from the support available from Start Up Now and is also using it to collaborate with and support other local companies. Increasingly today entrepreneurs are able to make their start up dreams a reality by combining their passion with their business acumen and drive. Katrina has done just that to create a fantastic network of artists and designers in Hoochie Mama and we’re delighted that the Loans have been able to support her venture.”
Start Up Now is a new complete partnership between Business Finance Solutions (BFS) and the NatWest for start ups in GM and the wider region, offering a suite of support, loans and services to entrepreneurs, all driven through unique bank referral arrangements. Over 700 BFS Start Up Loan recipients in the North West are now running their own businesses, creating employment and economic opportunities across Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Cumbria. The Start Up Now partnership with NatWest is the first of its kind to take place under the government’s £150 million Start Up Loans programme and builds on the partnership agreement signed with former RBS CEO Stephen Hester in 2011 and on the launch of the Loans scheme by David Cameron in 2012. BFS was the first delivery partner in the country to make loans under the scheme and now manages the Loan Management Provision Service for over 30 Delivery Partners nationally. Since December 2012 BFS has managed over 4,500 applications and has awarded £30m Start Up Loans. Start Up Now is available to everyone over the age of 18 in the North West.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.start-up-now.co.uk to learn more about Start Up Now and register.
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