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Opening Doors Network was just what I needed

Guest Blog by Jillian Green

Hi, my name is Jillian. I am 30 years old and live in Tottenham. I have some part-time work but the hours are sporadic and the job is no more than a means-to-an-end.

In the last 12 months I started to develop an idea to create a new healthy drink made from natural ingredients.

I was born in Jamaica and moved to London when I was five years old. Being from a Jamaican family we always liked to make our own traditional Jamaican food and drinks and have several recipes. One of my favourites that has been in the family for generations is for a soft drink made primarily from sorrel plant and ginger – Xaymaca (Jamaica in Spanish).

Although Tottenham has a large Caribbean demographic, and more and more Jamaican goods are sold in the area, I recognised that there was a gap in the market for Xaymaca!  My dream was to begin trading and see Xaymaca on the shelves of Sainsbury’s and Tesco one day! 

However, whilst my family and I are very confident in producing the drink, I was unsure about how this could progress to a genuine business idea:
  •  I didn’t study business at school and have no direct experiences of seeing a business in action.
  •  I didn’t have a business plan and I’d heard words and phrases like ‘balance sheet’. ‘marketing mix”, and ‘Unique Selling Point’ but didn’t know what they meant or how they applied to me and Xaymaca.

I regularly attend the Jobcentre in Tottenham where I met Paul who told me about the Opening Doors programme.

Opening Doors Network was just what I needed.

 The Opening Doors workshops we have had at Tottenham Hotspur have been so informative and I have learnt so much:

  • A company came in to talk to us about how to use social media, e.g. Twitter and Facebook
  • Learning about website design. I didn’t know a great deal about this and wasn’t even sure why I would need a website. After a few hours I had an understanding of how a website will help promote and advertise my brand (check me out using the word ‘brand’!) and I had an idea of how to create my own website.

However, I have to say that the networking opportunities have been the most invaluable aspect of the programme. Not only have I met with other people, like me, with a business idea from Tottenham but I have also been able to speak with the local Barclays Bank Business Manager who gave me some advice about my business plan which is really beginning to take shape.

I’ve been told this week that I may be able to do some test trading - as part of the Opening Doors Test Zone - at the big Sainsbury’s in Tottenham next month and may also be able to pitch my idea to some other entrepreneurs.

I feel so much closer to realising my dream now.

All of this is quite scary, but in a really exciting way.

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