A Rotherham based entrepreneur who was forced to spend Christmas at a women’s refuge is looking forward to a bright future after securing support from Launchpad; a unique Sheffield City Region wide initiative aimed at helping individuals transform their business ideas into reality.
Danielle Wilkinson, 32 who now lives in Broom Valley, drew on inspiration from a thirteen year career in the beauty and tanning industry to launch her bespoke mobile spray tan business I Love a Dan Tan in March 2017.
However, it was the traumatic experience of being forced to flee her home to escape domestic violence which made Danielle take stock of her life. She decided to put her university studies on hold and return to her first love; the beauty industry.
It was during her time at university that Danielle heard about Launchpad, a start-up programme which provides support to individuals considering self-employment. Working with an experienced business advisor, Danielle began exploring the possibility of launching a new mobile spray tanning business.
Working alongside a Launchpad business advisor to fine tune her plans, Danielle was able to get to grips with understanding finance and costings, build a website from scratch and develop a media marketing strategy to promote her services. The experience gave Danielle the confidence to believe in her idea and invest her savings to purchase the vital equipment needed to offer mobile tanning. At the same time she began carefully developing her own unique blend of eco-friendly tanning products.
I Love a Dan Tan has proved to be an overnight success, but Danielle wanted to go one stage further and use her business to help others across South Yorkshire. She has recruited eleven representatives to her workforce, which is made up of single mums who are able to balance childcare responsibilities whilst earning a regular income from Danielle’s spray tanning business.
The success she has achieved to date has been beyond her wildest dreams and Danielle has even been able to return to University where she is working towards a Masters’ degree in Business.
Danielle Wilkinson, I Love a Dan Tan, said: “Last Christmas was one of the most difficult times of my life. I’d hit an all-time low and I knew I needed to make some big changes to build a better life for my two young children. Before studying at university I had worked in the tanning and beauty industry for a long time and I had always dreamed of running my own business, but it was something which didn’t seem possible.
“I decided to place my studies on hold and follow my dreams of running my own business. The support and advice I’ve received from Launchpad has been crucial in helping me to make those dreams become a reality.
“I knew that I wanted my business to make tanning more affordable and accessible for everyone; but I also wanted to help others facing similar situations to my own. Launchpad has helped me to get where I am today, and the success I’ve achieved to date has helped me to not only return to university, but also create new opportunities for other single mums across South Yorkshire to be able to build careers within the business.”
Julia Millea, Business Advisor, SCR Launchpad said: “The Launchpad programme, delivered throughout the Sheffield City Region, is aimed at helping new entrepreneurs who have been trading for less than two years as well as people like Danielle who are considering self-employment.
“The programme offers a helping hand to navigate through the early stages of running a business. Danielle had a clear vision to provide a service she was passionate about and we wish her every success in her future business plans.”
Launchpad is a unique scheme which forms part of the Sheffield City Region Growth hub. Funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund and delivered by Local Authorities within Sheffield City Region and the Princes Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the Sheffield City Region who are thinking of starting their own business, or have started trading within the last two years.
For more information on the Launchpad programme and how it operates throughout the Sheffield City Region, contact the SCR Growth Hub Gateway on 03330 00 00 39 or visit www.scrlaunchpad.co.uk