Aimee Duclos has always had a passion for all things fashion.
She attended London College of Fashion specialising in the design and development of leather goods. After graduating 7 years ago, she travelled to Australia and New Zealand, finding work making traditional Australian leather hats and gifts.
Having regularly been asked to make leather accessories for friends and family, Aimee noticed there was a demand for handmade, high quality and one-off pieces. She decided to take the plunge and start her own Handbag line, Duclos.
Upon her return the UK 2 years ago, Aimee said: “I’ve always wanted to start something myself and be my own designer, so thought now is the time.” It took around 6 months to a year designing, process mapping, finding suppliers and choosing the right materials.
The website took a year to develop, it allows clients to completely customise their purchase. The website allows Aimee to work closely with the client, providing full support and guidance on the design and production process, meaning the shopping experience is fully unique for every customer.
Aimee said: “I initially found out about the Growth Hub when searching for business courses on the internet. I rang up to enquire about the courses and realised what was on offer.” From this, Aimee was enrolled on Cumbria Business Growth Hub’s Business Start Up Support (BSUS) scheme.
The BSUS scheme offers those thinking of starting a business free support covering one to one time with a business adviser, a 3-day workshop covering business basics, other free training workshops, part funded subsidy grants and links to other support programmes.
“Attending the 3-day workshop was a great starting point, just meeting people on the course allowed me to make valuable connections. There were quite a few creative people on it, and we’ve all kept in touch and like to help each other out.”
“I’ve done 3 or 4 day courses, the accountancy one covering taxes in particular was good. All of the workshops and courses I’ve attended have helped me in some way.”
After she completed the 3-day workshop, Aimee was assigned to Cumbria Business Growth Hub adviser, Adrian Luckham. Aimee said: “he was completely non-judgemental and has helped me all the way through. He’s been fabulous.”
As Aimee is working on her own, she was open to any help she could get. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Adrian. Being very creative, I had all my ideas down, but I didn’t know the other side of things- like trying to start a business!”
As well as the BSUS help and advice, Duclos also received a subsidy. “This was an amazing help as well, I received the 40% up to £2,000 subsidy.” New businesses may be eligible for a 40% subsidy of up to £2,000 to support your business. This can be used towards the likes of marketing, web development, accountancy, legal advice, social media, PR and gaining accreditations. If you’d like to find out more, please visit here.
Aimee’s plans for Duclos: “in the future I’d love to employ people to help me, and to grow. But I always wanted it to be this experience where it’s fully customisable, and fully bespoke. Long term goals I’d love to have a bigger workshop or factory space.”
If you’d like to find out more about the help you can receive, please visit the business start-up support area of our website here.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Sellafield Ltd., Carlisle City Council, South Lakeland District Council, Penrith Industrial BID and Cumbria LEP. The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The BSUS project is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, click here.