Business Support

Gail Gravett

Background before becoming an adviser and any industry experience

“I come from Hertfordshire originally and did a degree at Warwick University in Environmental Science, then went to work for BT. I was in London with BT for 19 years mainly working in head office and that was in all areas from data, data communications and data administration. Fortunately, I was sponsored to do a Masters degree in Telecoms Management, so I spent a year travelling around the world looking at telecoms and that got me very interested in marketing.

I left the business in 1999 and came up to Cumbria and bought a business called Lakeland Photographic Holidays based in Braithwaite. We ran that for 20 year and won a small business award from Cumbria Chamber of Commerce for the best tourist experience, and over the time we trained about 3000 photographers in the Lake District. I ran the whole business so all aspects of marketing, sales, managing staff and communicating with customers. We were very fortunate that we had over 65% occupancy on our business so it was very successful at the time.”

Areas of specialism/interest

“It’s very much running a small business. Setting up a business, finance, marketing and customer relationship management so that’s what I really focus on. I specialise now in digital marketing and have created ‘The Virtuous Circle of Digital Marketing’ which I’ll be lecturing on later this year. It’s very much about the whole aspect and not just about your website, your social media and emailing – it’s a whole combination of things.”

Why did you become a business adviser? How long have you been an adviser/self employed?

“I’ve been a mentor, I’ve managed many staff and I love helping small businesses. I felt that my experiences with corporate life and managing my own business in Cumbria, and being a woman managing business in Cumbria I felt I could actually provide that expertise to a lot of people.

Over the last 6 to 7 years I’ve now supported over 175 businesses across Cumbria. From complete concepts to businesses that are alive and kicking and maybe just need some direction occasionally.”

What do you most enjoy about the role?

“I really enjoy dealing with so many businesses and there are so many people that I’ve now met then I’ve become friends with over time. The hardest part of my job really is when I have to suggest to a business that is coming up with these ‘big ideas’ that really it exists elsewhere or has already been done 20 times already I do find that quite hard when I’m having to talk to people and just say ‘maybe we need to rethink on this’.”

Your biggest success to date as an adviser?

“3 companies that I really have enjoyed working with the most is: Cals Coffee, he was still a sixth former when he started his business. He imports coffee directly from Brazil and I supported him from the year he was in sixth form through university and I still talk to him now. Their business is worth over £250,000 and he’s just told me he’s importing I think 25 containers of coffee to South Africa from Brazil.

Mere Glass is based out of Cockermouth she makes beautiful glass jewellery. I’ve worked with her for about 3-4 years now and last year during lockdown we got a social media grant for her which really rebooted and turned her business on online which obviously during lockdown was a major thing.

Finally Zero Pantry, she started during lockdown and has done absolutely amazing. She started a business in Kirby Lonsdale on the 1st of August last year and opened her second business in September in Sedburgh!”

Interesting facts about you

  • “I have 2 kids, my daughter is a Doctor and my son is an Artist.
  • I love golf. And coffee. And having fun. And drinking gin with my friends!”