Girls doing it their way

Talented graduates in their 20s: meet the next generation of women entrepreneurs

By Sandy Rashty, September 17, 2013
Beauty blogger Lily Pebbles

Beauty blogger Lily Pebbles

These women are the business. They have set up their own companies straight after graduating from university – and what’s more, the young entrepreneurs are running the companies from their family home.

Aged 22 to 25, they have all invested minimal capital into their start-ups, exploited the cost-free marketing benefits of social media and networked within their communal groups to boost their projects. Above all, they have utilised their degrees to boost their business – all of which have launched on a shoestring budget.

Lily Pebbles, from north London, is one of the beauty industry’s best-known video bloggers – or “vloggers”.

Her YouTube channel receives more than 300,000 monthly views and has attracted the attention of top advertising firms.

“I never thought vlogging would be my actual job,” says Pebbles, 25.

“I have a huge following on YouTube and that brings in the top advertisers and brands on my channel.”

In her first year, the Birmingham City graduate earned the same amount as a graduate employee working in PR.

Nutritional consultant Gemma Landau

Nutritional consultant Gemma Landau

“My followers trust me. I’m a personal way to market a product.”

Amelia Liana Sopher, from south London, stumbled across vlogging at Nottingham University.

“I was spending more time blogging than revising for exams,” says the beauty writer, 22, who now works with leading hair care brands on her Liana Beauty website.

Sopher, who has around 1 million monthly website hits, adds: “I’m completely self-taught and love the challenge. It’s led to amazing opportunities — including working for magazines and at London Fashion Week.”

She has capitalised on the robust beauty industry.

“When the recession hit most businesses badly — the beauty industry continued to grow. People always like to feel better about themself.”

Former JFS student Beth Leyens, 22, launched the Betsy & JJ baby fashion line while studying for her final year assessments at the London College of Fashion. Leyens, who graduated this year, conceived the concept after customising a pair of pink pumps (pictured) for her eight-month old niece Annabel Betsy Rose.

“People loved them and the business has grown from there,” explains Leyens, who works from her bedroom in Stanmore.

“I’ve always wanted to start-up my own business and now is the perfect time to do it as I don’t have to worry about paying for a mortgage or children.

“This is something small that I can build up steadily.”

Leyens invested around £1000 to buy merchandise and is relying on family fun days, craft fairs and social media outlets to market the brand.

Gemma Landau, 25, is a qualified nutritional consultant. She set up Food Knowledge upon graduating from Westminster University in 2011.

Landau, who solely runs the consultancy firm, is recommended by clinics from Harley Street to Hertfordshire.

Landau says: “I’ve combined my nutrition course with my entrepreneurial acumen. I have no guaranteed income or salary so I have to work hard on self-plugging, managing my time, the business and working structure.”

She adds: “My website has brought in around 70 per cent of my clients — so for me, it’s a lot more professional than a blog.”

But others need a full-time job to support their entrepreneurial project.

Miriam Breckner, from Harrow, who studied at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, works as a junior school teaching assistant at North London Collegiate School.

The Official Dance Party founder, 23, spends weekends promoting her entertainment business for birthday parties, which she started with £400.

“Right now, I’m not able to solely rely on my income from birthday parties,” says Breckner.

“But I’ll keep on going and it would be great to see what I started grow.”

Last updated: 2:21pm, September 17 2013