A Co Londonderry woman has fulfilled her life’s ambition and turned a hobby into a business venture thanks to the Go For It Programme, in association with Derry City and Strabane District Council.
This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Deborah Lamberton from Derry explains that she always had an interest in skincare and beauty, but it wasn’t until she was travelling in Italy five years go that the idea for the business, So27skincare was formed.
“I have always believed in looking after my skin,” Deborah explains. “I had problem skin so was always on the look-out for the best products to try.
“Five years ago, I was in Italy with work and the hotel had soap and shampoo which was made out of olive oil. After a week I noticed a big difference in my skin and hair – they were in much better condition.”
Deborah decided to start researching natural products and developing her own range. This culminated last year when she went through the Cosmetics Assessment Process for her range.
She then enlisted the support of the Go For It Programme through North West Enterprise who act on behalf of Derry City and Strabane District Council.
“I had a real passion for skincare and for the business but the Go For it Programme helped me turn it into a reality. They helped me with all the financial planning which I needed to do to begin manufacturing and retailing my range. All the ingredients I use in everything I make are 100 per cent natural.
“They helped me work out a five year plan which has been fundamental to the business. So far we have exceeded every target we set. I have employed staff which I didn’t plan on doing into the third year and selling into stores but that has already happened.”
Such has been the success of So27skincare, Deborah won a £10K Challenge Award with Derry City and Strabane District Council based on her five-year business plan.
“I have the Go For It programme to thank for getting me started and helping me win the award,” she explains.
“I would urge anyone who has ever had the idea of starting up their own business, or even if you have just started operating your own business to apply for a place on the Go For It Programme. The skills and knowledge imparted is beyond the realms of what you could achieve on your own.”
The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.
Claire Costello, Business Advisor with Enterprise North West on behalf of Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “Deborah joined the Go For It Programme with a clear vision to bring her very own range of natural products to the market and was determined from the outset to make it happen.
“We worked with Deborah to develop her business plan that allowed to her focus on her marketing of the product range, as well as the financial forecasting for the first two years of the business.
“Deborah’s business plan also provided her with the opportunity to participate in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s 10k Challenge and picked up the top prize of £2,500 that she used to further expand her range of products.
“It’s amazing to see So27skincare experiencing tremendous online sales across the United Kingdom and already stocked in retail outlets in Derry City Centre. So27skincare is a local success story and I look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength in the future.
“I would encourage anyone thinking about starting a business to sign up now as there’s the added incentive of the 10k Challenge, which only happens once a year, and is now open to new participants through the Go for it programme.”
If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business contact the Go For It Programme on 0800 027 0639 or visit: www.goforitni.com.
For more information on Derry City and Strabane District Council’s 10k Challenge and how to enter visit: http://www.derrystrabane.com/10Kchallenge