9 people from Cheshire to look out for in 2015

Who to look out for 1n 2015

Who to look out for 1n 2015 - Credit: Archant

Are you determined that 2015 will be the year you stick to your resolutions? Take advice from Damian Hughes who can teach you to think like Sir Alex Ferguson and take inspiration from locals who’ve achieved their dreams, big and small

Cleo Barbour

Shoe designer Cleo B was brought up in Bolesworth and went to school in Chester before attending the London College of Fashion and Cordwainers in London, specialising in footwear.

‘Ever since I was a child I wanted to do fashion. I was always into accessories but when I applied for the course they said I couldn’t combine accessories and footwear so I chose shoes. I felt they were more of a challenge and I feel shoes have a power over women. I remember finding a pair of gold shoes in the back of my mum’s wardrobe in a Harrods shoebox. They were so beautiful I insisted my parents hang them on the top of the Christmas tree. From then on shoes became my obsession. I have launched a new website and have created a ‘candy store’ for my shoe clips (accessories that attach to shoes transforming their look). I am aiming to make a name for the brand this year.

My advice to others? ‘Be prepared to fall before you succeed and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. I’m always flattered when I am asked by people.’


Kayleigh Dixon

From 3,000 nominations, Kayleigh Dixon made it to the final ten in the courage category of the national Mumpreneur Awards. The mother-of-two from Sandbach Heath earned this recognition after starting her company, KJD-Fairytale-Creations in April 2013, less than two years ago.

Kayleigh now has a stand at Sandbach indoor market on Saturdays, selling her unusual creations from hand-painted glassware and personalised paper cuttings.

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‘I left home at 16 and moved into a youth hostel until I was 19,’ said Kayleigh, 28. ‘I fell pregnant with Caitlin (now eight) who was born three months premature. This made me determined to give her the best life.’ Kayleigh took up a photography course but still lacking confidence left the business idea for a number of years.

‘I was mainly self-taught, watching how-to videos on YouTube. I loved Anne Geddes and was inspired to create images like hers but bring them more to life,’ said Kayleigh. ‘Although I thought my creations were good, I never thought they were good enough.’

She then met partner Andy in 2008 and after the birth of their daughter Bella-Louise in 2011, Kayleigh finally found the support and self confidence to start her business.

‘Last year the actress Amanda Holden asked me to design her Christmas cards with her daughters as fairies in a winter scene,’ said Kayleigh. ‘I couldn’t believe it at first! A few months later I also designed her daughter’s birthday invitations.’

Kayleigh’s aim is to have a permanent studio where she can properly pursue her favourite aspect of the business, the fairy photographs.

Your advice to others starting out in 2015?: ‘You can feel quite self-concious at first and it may take a while for things to take off, but if you have the passion you can do it.’


Alex Abberton

‘Sometimes ideas just grow like seeds and organically turn into a reality,’ said Alex Abberton, 47, founder of the Bunbury Bag Company. She set up her online bespoke bag business in March 2013 after being inspired by her grandmothers.

‘When I was about eight, one of my grandmothers gave me a small coin purse with a clasp fastening. I kept it for years. I loved the satisfying clack sound when it shut,’ said Alex. The clasp design is now central to her handmade bags.

‘My studio at home is a room full of fabrics and pins!’ laughed Alex, who lives in Bunbury with her partner David and their three children. ‘The fabric is sourced from shops, friends and offcuts. I like to experiment, giving each bag a character of its own.’

The bags are sometimes created by recycling clothes and upholstery textiles. Alex recently crafted one from an outfit a client wore to her daughter’s wedding. ‘I call them bags of memories,’ said Alex. ‘It gives items a new lease of life.’

Alex’s beautiful bags have featured in the national press and she was offered a free stand at the Country Living fair in London. ‘I’m so glad I took the plunge in starting my own business. In the future, I would like to supply to boutique-style stores,’ said Alex.

‘However, the most important thing is giving people happiness. One lady said: I love your bags, they’re happy bags. That made me smile’

Your advice to others starting out in 2015: Don’t worry if things don’t go according to plan - keep smiling and you’ll find a way round it.


Ben Whatson

As a teenager, sometimes it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. But Ben Whatson, 20 and his friend and business partner, Matthew Mayes, 21, tackled this problem head on in 2012.

‘Matt and I always shared the same interest in fashion so we decided to start our own clothing company,’ said Ben, from Wilmslow. ‘We then started to build up a brand identity and design ideas.’

The two students decided on the name Solitary. ‘It represents standing for individuality and creating your own path,’ said Ben. The brand was born when they trademarked the name for £500. ‘It was a big commitment financially so we knew we had to make sure we put 100% in,’ said Ben.

The designs for items, which range from t-shirts to hats, are commissioned by a relevant artist or the boys themselves. ‘We order the leather labels and snapbacks from China,’ said Ben. ‘However, the screen printing and embroidery is all done in Macclesfield and then relabelled in Marple. We try to keep it Cheshire based.’

Ben, who is studying digital advertising and design at Ravensbourne University in London, has regular Skype sessions with Matt to think of ideas for the forthcoming seasons. The young entrepreneur has also recently signed to a modelling agency.

‘Next summer we will have a stand at Portobello Market and for the second year running and we’ll be selling clothes at a couple of festivals. But we really want to have our own shop or get the items into high street stores.’

Ben’s advice to anyone starting out in 2015: ‘Put 100% in or don’t do it at all. Don’t be scared of what people think and get some quality advice.’


Lynette Page

Lynette Page is a make-up artist with her own products and a make-up bar and academy in Knutsford. After a three year hair and make-up course at college she decided make-up was her future and took a job with the cosmetics company MAC.

‘I worked there nine years and had a great time but I’d always wanted my own shop as many of my customers would ask if they could have their make-up done somewhere more private than on the shop floor,’ she said.

‘I felt there was a demand for such a place. It was a real lightbulb moment. I just thought I can do this. And I did. However, the first thing I wanted to do was get my own-brand products. I initially thought ‘I can’t do it’ but then the only thing that was stopping me was me. I went for it with the help of a very friendly lab overseas. For the second phase, I wanted a shop. As soon as I came into my here to Knutsford I knew it was the right place.

‘For 2015 I’ve probably got about 12 ambitions but I definitely want another shop. People get their hair done on a regular basis why wouldn’t they want their make-up done in the same way?

Lynette’s advice for others? ‘Go with your gut instincts’.


Sylvan Richardson

Sylvan is a professional musician who has made the successful transition into medicine and is now a sports therapist for Liverpool FC and owner of Rich Therapies, Bowdon.

‘I was in (the band) Simply Red. In fact I went into music when I was still at school but was never interested in being a professional musician, it just happened and became my path. I was following my instincts and did it because I enjoyed it more than anything else. I only stopped music three year ago as I became overstretched trying to work as a therapist and musician.

The impetus for me was medicine. I have been working for 10 years achieving accreditations and it is so satisfying. Every day I feel I am pulling off a miracle, helping someone to get better and helping them go on their way. For 2015 I aim to graduate as a doctor of chiropractic medicine, expand Rich Therapies and get into lecturing.’

Sylvan’s advice for others: ‘Follow what you love. You can find reasons not to do something, or you can find a way to do what inspires you. For me it is my wife, Jay. She inspires me every day.


Phil Critchley

After moving to Manchester to join the Co-op’s business management graduate scheme, Phil Critchley became involved in organising the relaunch of the company’s fair trade wine range.

‘I just caught the bug and got really into wine,’ said Phil, 26. ‘I found it so interesting and was enthused by colleagues and others who were really passionate about it.’

The project soon developed into a full time role and Phil became the wine buyer for the supermarket, selling Italian wines across 30,000 stores. The idea for his own business developed when the young entrepreneur organised internal wine tasting events at the Co-op, with this soon progressing into tastings for family and friends.

‘I then went on holiday to Chianti in Italy and it dawned on me that I was going to take the chance and set up my own wine tasting company,’ said Phil, who lives in Hale.

Proviamo Vino, which translates as Let’s Try Wine, was launched in October and allows guests to enjoy an unpretentious wine tasting session and learn about buying the best wines for the average shopper.

‘It’s fun and relaxed,’ said Phil, who during the day now works for a leading supermarket wine supplier. ‘I have a completely flexible approach and can create bespoke tastings for the clients’ needs, from a group of friends at home to a formal team-building event.’

‘The biggest step was actually having the confidence to do it, but I’m happy I did.’

Phil’s advice to others starting out in 2015: ‘Find out where you sit in the market. Think of doing something a bit different and find a niche.’


Vikas Shah

Vikas Shah accidently became a business man at the age of 14. ‘It was a way of making pocket money and I didn’t think it would blow up,’ said Vikas, 33, who created web-design company Ultima Group. ‘At Stockport Grammar school I’d carry a huge mobile phone around and at the end of the day get a taxi to the office!’

With clients such as Nike and Unilever, the Stockport businessman ran the company for eight years. He is now the managing director of the £16m turnover Swiscot Group, the co-president of TiE in the north and a visiting professor of entrepreneurship at the Lisbon MBA, a leading business school in Portugal. Is there anything Vikas can’t do?

‘For me, running a business at a young age was just the same as being a part of the rugby team,’ said Vikas. ‘It was hard to manage but if you’re passionate you fit it all in and make it work.’

Vikas is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts & Chartered Management Institute and has been voted entrepreneur of the year at the Stockport Business Awards. He was also awarded the Freedom of the City of London. ‘It’s strange as I don’t see myself as someone who’s made it. I’m still on the journey and ultimately it’s the team behind me who have won these awards,’ he said modestly.

He’s not only an entrepreneur; among other things Vikas is an executive patron of Cancer Research UK and founder of Music for Cities, which raises money for talented young people from disadvantaged areas.

‘The focus for the future is to keep the balance of what I am doing now and remain focused with a mission to help the community and improve lives, as well as managing a business.’

Vikas’s advice to others starting out in 2015: ‘It’s really important that you find a good mentor as business can be lonely. Also, don’t be scared. It is a hard world but not as hard as people think.


Roger Stephenson

The architect with a country residence in Cheshire and a practice in Manchester seemed born to build.

‘My father was born in the early 20th century in the East End of London and he was a creative person who was good with his hands and that rubbed off on me,’ Roger revealed. ‘Architects don’t just sit around drawing things - they build things too. My ancestor is actually George Stephenson of Stephenson’s Rocket fame so it’s in my DNA.’

Roger chose Liverpool to study as it had one of the two best schools of architecture in the UK. He left with a first class degree, stayed in the north west and eventually set up his own practice.

‘I’ve been shortlisted for the Sterling Prize three times, including Quay Bar in Castlefield, which is sadly not there any more but my proudest achievement is the extension for Chetham’s School of Music,’ he said.

‘A £8.2m windfall from one benefactor means we can now design the concert hall, completing the project.’

Roger’s advice for aspiring architects: ‘At university you are allowed to explore all kinds of possibilities but as soon as you get into the world everyone tells you what you can’t do and the integrity of the concept you’re trying to develop gets rubbed away. If you’re not careful you end up designing “by committee” - so don’t lose the spirit youdiscovered at university.


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