Ismail Mulla: Millennials gear up to be entrepreneurs of tomorrow

Sarah Burgan, who has set up a clothing company inspired by tattoos called Fulwood London.
12th July 2017.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Sarah Burgan, who has set up a clothing company inspired by tattoos called Fulwood London. 12th July 2017. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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There’s a common stereotype of millennials being too preoccupied with eating avocado on toast, getting tattooed and Instagramming coffee art to amount to any good.

They are often labelled lazy, wasteful and self-entitled by older generations.

Tia Roqaa pictured with her Beauty Box at Gloss Chelwood Drive, Leeds..30th August 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Tia Roqaa pictured with her Beauty Box at Gloss Chelwood Drive, Leeds..30th August 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

As a millennial I am probably biased when it comes to my generation. However, in my professional life I have come across enough evidence to have my superstitions confirmed that the stereotypes simply are not true.

In fact, what has been most refreshing is that many of my generation are using this disconnect with older people to their advantage. They’ve come to realise that they have their finger on the pulse when it comes to what it is millennials want. Using this as an advantage, many are now seeking to exploit commercial opportunities around the needs and wants of other millennials.

Take for example Sarah Burgan. She launched her own fashion label called Fulwood London in 2015.

Fulwood designs streetwear inspired by, that supposed obsession of millennials, tattoos.

Leeds Digital Hub, partnership between Yorkshire Post and Leeds Beckett University. 26th April 2017. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds Digital Hub, partnership between Yorkshire Post and Leeds Beckett University. 26th April 2017. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Ms Burgan realised that while many people like the idea of having tattoos, they don’t like the lifetime commitment that comes with them. So instead she has striking tattoo designs printed on T-shirts and hoodies.

In amidst the frequent colloquial words such as “jazz” and her generally relaxed manner, Ms Burgan has a sharp mind that is focused on her business.

Speaking about millennials, she told me: “We’ve got our finger on the pulse much more so than older people. Despite what everyone says about millennials we work really hard.

“A lot of my peers now are running their own business.”

It’s hard to contest her point. You only need to take a walk around the Entrepreneurial Spark hub or the Leeds Digital Hub to see all the young people beavering away, building their own business brick-by-brick from scratch.

Often many will be juggling day jobs to go alongside their own business, just so that they can keep their heads above water financially until their idea takes off.

Even away from these start-up hubs, there are many young entrepreneurs taking their first steps into the wide world armed with just a specialist knowledge and passion for their work.

Tia Roqaa is another example of a young woman who is turning her passion into a business. Ms Roqaa was made redundant at the turn of the year.

Despite her mother’s reservations she decided to launch her own business, which allowed her to do something around her love of beauty products.

Roccabox sends out boxes of the latest beauty products carefully chosen by bloggers and influencers. Ms Roqaa has used the power of social media to build a booming membership base.

I’m finding that a lot of these millennial entrepreneurs had initially left the region for the bright lights of London, only to return from the overheating London economy.

Both Ms Burgan and Ms Roqaa are examples of this trend. They both said it would have been near on impossible to set up their respective companies in the capital. The costs are simply too high. This can only be a good thing for Yorkshire. Millennials will be the job creators of the future.

There’s also a sense of camaraderie among these young people. In the hubs they’re willing to collaborate together on projects. Sometimes just an encouraging word to a fellow entrepreneur to keep their spirits up creates a sense of community and belonging.

Whether it is pioneering the latest technology through digital start ups or simply finding a novel twist on an existing idea, millennials are making a contribution to the economy.

As these ideas mature and indeed people’s needs change, it’s worth supporting this generation of entrepreneurs.