Venture gives fashion fans their big chance

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IT’S a long and winding road from the catwalks of Milan to the quayside at Hull.

One entrepreneur is doing his bit to help young people from East Yorkshire who want to make waves in the world of fashion.

In 2010, Garreth Byrne left his painting and decorating business behind, because he wanted to travel the world. At the time, the British economy was suffering one of its worst slumps, so opportunities for many fledgling entrepreneurs were limited.

When Mr Byrne returned to the UK, the economic climate was still bleak and he endured a frustrating period, when he struggled to get a foothold back in the world of work.

Originally from Dublin, Mr Byrne moved to Hull and eventually secured a job as an employment coach with Pertemps People Development Company (PPDG).

“I was in a really low place after signing on at the Job Centre for almost two years,” Mr Byrne recalled yesterday. “Nobody wanted to give me a chance until I applied for the job at PPDG.

“I had some previous experience in the employment field, and, fortunately, PPDG recognised I had something to offer in helping other job seekers and gave me the chance I needed.”

According to a PPDG spokesman, Mr Byrne quickly gained promotion while taking part in the Work Programme, the Government’s initiative to help the longer-term unemployed.

In recent years, he’s picked up the skills and confidence needed to launch his own new venture, Bespoke Boutiques Clothing.

The company aims to allow small businesses to market their fashion products to potential customers all over the world via a dedicated web portal, www.bespokeboutiques.com.

Mr Byrne said: “My company and colleagues supported me through the idea to form my own company.

“I’ve worked alongside The Prince’s Trust to help young people start up their businesses, develop business plans and devise financial projections and marketing tactics. I realised it was all useful preparation for my own venture.

“Bespoke Boutiques Clothing is a mix between an online retail store and a social media site.

“It has a cutting-edge application for android phones, which allows users to upload photos, design and run their business with the flick of a finger. It’s free, easy to use, and allows you to have your very own online clothing and accessories store, but I really couldn’t have done this without the support of the company.”

PPDG has helped hundreds of people to launch their own business since it was established in 1997. The company has also helped more than 105,000 long-term unemployed people, who were determined to return to the world of work.

A PPDG spokesman said yesterday: “Garreth has been a real asset to our business and I’m sure he’ll make a success of his new venture.”

PPDG has grown from a single site in North Solihull in the West Midland, to a network of more than 40 Advancement Centres employing around 800 people right across the UK.

Mr Byrne told The Yorkshire Post yesterday: “I always had the dream of setting up my own business.”

Bespoke Boutiques currently has four full-time staff and hopes to grow.

“Our whole plan is to hire as many people and create as many businesses as possible,’’ said Mr Byrne. “It’s been a labour of love over the last two years.”