Female entrepreneurs trading in Fenwick Colchester thanks to NEN member COLBEA

Female entrepreneurs trading in Fenwick Colchester thanks to NEN member COLBEA

Local businesswomen, supported by Fenwick and NEN member COLBEA, begin trading on the high street and boost the local economy.

Kesiah Smithers from betty & molly are the first to be trading in Fenwick Colchester, following a pitching contest as part of COLBEA’s business training programme

Colchester Business & Enterprise Agency and Fenwick‘s continued support of local businesswomen emphasises the important part the high street plays as the backbone of the local economy. Smallbusiness.co.uk shared research that shows:

£10 spent with a local independent shop means up to an additional £50 goes back into the local economy. This is simply because the nearby shop owners, who you are spending your money with, will then put that money back into your local community by going into local pubs and restaurants etc, thus circulating the money and allowing your community to thrive.

Fenwick’s support of small businesses and independents has enabled Colbea’s clients to strive for success. Shopping local with independents could be a key part of transforming the high street and the economy.

On 17th December the partnership announced the results via an online webinar for the runners’ up and winners of the IM4S2 Fenwick competition. This event was a celebration of entrepreneurship and the prize saw five graduates of Colbea’s In the Market for Success 2 programme given the opportunity to trade on the shop floor of Fenwick’s 90,000 square ft Colchester High Street store.

Each entrant had to make it through a rigorous judging process, comprised firstly of a shortlisting panel, facing an interview and pitching panel consisting of Sara Thakkar (Colbea Chair), Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford (Colbea CEO), Nancy Foster (Fenwick Store Director) and Lisa Oldman (Sales Manager for Fenwick) and conveying their strategy of delivery within Fenwick. Each entrant was asked to create a short pitch for their business.

Watch the pitches on You Tube

Due to the calibre of the pitching sessions in the interviews in September, Fenwick expanded the scope of the prize. The prize awarded two runners’ up two-weeks trading, and the overall winners were awarded two months trading to three businesses.

Nancy Foster announced the winners. Nancy says:

Fenwick are incredibly proud to continue our support of businesswomen in the local community and provide a platform to showcase their products to a wider audience within our store. The standard of entrants this year was incredibly high. As a result, we decided to re-look at the prize offering to reflect the sheer volume and quality of local dynamic businesswomen identified.


The winning businesses are:

  • For UK manufacturing: Twinkledust (Sarah Gant and Emma Kelly)

Twinkledust is run by sisters Sarah Gant and Emma Kelly. They create and design super soft children’s cotton clothing that is made well and has a quality that will last. With printing and manufacturing all their products in the UK, Twinkledust also support other British businesses.

The London Sleep Company is a one-stop shop featuring beautiful products such as their bath and shower elixir formulated with deep, restorative sleep in mind. Further planned releases will build on the pre-sleep routine.

Hand folded unique paper lamp shades, lights and decorations to enhance your contemporary home or space. Taking inspiration from geometric forms and natural materials.

Speaking about winning this unique prize, Emma Kelly from Twinkledust said:
We were so happy, with so many amazing brands in the competition, we were not expecting to be winners.  It means the world to us to be able to be in a store with the same ethics as us and we cannot wait!

Amy Paris from The London Sleep Company said:

This is a huge, money-can’t-buy opportunity for us, and we are absolutely over the moon to have won. We are so grateful to Colbea for all the valuable business advice they have given us, and we can’t wait to start working with Fenwick!

Emma Fisher from FoldedSide Project commented:

I’m so thrilled to have been chosen as one of the three winners. I’m totally over the moon to be working with Fenwick’s. It is so great to have such a prestigious retailer on our doorstep and the chance to offer my locally produced handmade lighting and decorations is very exciting and positive in these unprecedented times. The Colbea course was an amazing experience which boosted my confidence and has helped me to take the next steps in my small creative business journey!

The runner’s-up are:

Affordable handmade lifestyle gifts bought to life by a love of plants, fabric and texture

  • Suzi M – Suzanne Smith

Inspired by a love and passion for colour, design and creativity. Hand drawn and unique detailed pencil illustrations are transformed into bold colourful prints

Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford, Colbea Chief Executive said:

The judges and I were very impressed by the amount of hard work and dedication that went into the applications and the shortlisted candidate pitches. It was not an easy task to select our winners, and the whole panel came away inspired by our aspiring businesswomen.

Now lockdown restrictions have eased, and retail has re-opened, our winners are in the process of booking in with Fenwick to trade.  All six winners will be trading at some point in 2021, and we look forward to seeing them in store.

Amy Knight from NEN visited Colbea and Fenwick on 18th May to learn about the ‘In the market for success’ programme

Kesiah Smithers from betty & molly are the first to be trading in store. National Enterprise Network’s Amy visited on 18th May and was amazed by the success stories coming out Colbea’s business training programme ‘In the market for success’ designed for female entrepreneurs.

About Colbea: Colbea is a multi-award winning business enterprise agency with a significant track record in supporting new and growing businesses since 1982. It is a key player in a wider field of business support partners including Government, Department for Work and Pensions, Chambers of Commerce, the BEST Growth Hub and Invest Essex.  Together they work to achieve the best outcomes for businesses in and around Colchester and beyond.