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Heavens to Betsy- A Sheffield Creative Startup Journey
by Startacus Admin
One of the things that is becoming abundantly apparent the further we progress into our Sheffield Startup Month is that Sheffield is a city with a broad range of fascinating and innovative startups and is becoming something of a hub for creative startups. Just like ‘Heavens to Betsy’, who make limited edition skirts and dresses for little girls using vintage fabrics and patterns.
It is a labour of love for founder Sian, who has grown the business in Sheffield alongside raising her family. We had a chat with her about the experience of starting a creative business in the city and what her big plans are for the future.
Hi there Sian, first of all can you tell us a little bit about your background? What did you do before ‘Heavens to Betsy’?
I worked in the Nightclub business in Sheffield for many years and then in 2000 I was offered a job as Damien Hirst’s PA in London. So that’s what I did until 2004 - the I came back to Sheffield when I had my little boy. Three kids later & I work from my beautiful garden workshop & am fully immersed in Heavens to Betsy.
What is ‘Heavens to Betsy’, what do you offer and why is it so special?
I make Limited Edition skirts & dresses for little girls using vintage fabrics & patterns. Each dress is completely unique & handmade in Sheffield. They each come in a beautiful gift box with a numbered limited edition tag. The fabrics all tell a story - from an old pair of flares worn by my auntie at Glastonbury, to a pair of curtains from a Slovenian Market. All lovingly reworked for a whole new lease of life!
What was it that encouraged you to become a creative entrepreneur? And how do you think that working as PA to Damien Hirst has affected (if at all) the unique pieces you now create?
I have always been creative, but the ‘entrepreneur’ bit did not come naturally. I had left behind my fabulous job & found myself stuck at home with 3 small children - so I really needed to do something that would fit into that. I think working for Damien just gave me such a fabulous experience working with such a unique creative….
Of course fashion is a notoriously difficult industry to get a foothold in, what has been the greatest problem that you have had to deal with so far and how did you manage to overcome it?
One of my problems about the ‘job’ (fashion or no fashion) is keeping ‘on it’ all the time. You can’t really switch off ever - you have to be permanently ready to sell your product/idea. I have not managed to overcome it!
Without giving too much away, what are the plans for ‘Heavens to Betsy’ in the next year or so?
Well I have the collection all ready to go - the business is very much ‘Done’ and so now it’s just a case of getting it out there - going to all the big stores, including department stores, going to the US - keeping on top of my push on instagram/Facebook etc - and continuing with my ‘celebrity kids’ strategy!
Did you find that there was much support available to you within the Sheffield area when starting the business (specifically a creative business like yours)?
I have a great community of creative/craft people in Sheffield who are completely amazing - but I was really ready to move forward onto the next step - away from the Market scene….
We know that you went through the ‘School for creative startups’ launcher programme. What kind of support did they give to you?
I guess the main thing is that they pushed us all to make the business a complete, ‘finished’ and viable business. All those little accounting/insurance/production things that we kept meaning to do…well on the course you had to be constantly moving forward - so it really forced you to get those things DONE.
I also have an amazing new community made up of the other students on the course. We started a Facebook group & they have all proved invaluable, from sharing ideas/ contacts to helping in times of confidence crisis. That has been one of the best things I have taken away from the course.
Thanks for the chat Sian!
Creative folk in Sheffield might be interested to learn that School for Creative Startups have joined forces with The Sheffield College to provide world class training and support for aspiring creative entrepreneurs wishing to grow their own startup within the Sheffield Area- pop over to their website for more details!
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