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University's former design student shares her experiences as a self-employed mum


Former design student visited Wrexham Glyndwr University to share her experience of setting up a new business.

Samantha Harris, owner and creative director of The Ideas Cupboard, a design agency, spoke to students about the pros and cons of setting up your own business at the university’s Creative Futures conference.

She said: “It was a big decision to go to university. I’m dyslexic and was always told early on in life I would not make much of myself but I wanted to prove people wrong.

“Glyndwr University was the first place that really gave me support with my dyslexia. Graduating was probably my proudest moment.”

The entrepreneur studied Game and Interactive Media Design at the university until 2010 and then gained her ‘dream job’ as a designer in Manchester – commuting every day. She soon decided to set up her own business.

Samantha, based in Oswestry, said: “I had to weigh up the pros and cons of going self-employed but decided to start my own business.

“I got a part-time job cleaning, it wasn’t glamorous but it paid the bills. I started Go Wales – Access to ILM course, which gave me the basic business management information I needed to set up my business.”

Samantha was granted Prince's Trust funding and a business mentor to help set up her company, which launched in 2012.

“The mentor was brilliant and more valuable to the business than the funding. But it wasn’t plain sailing. I found a business partner but despite putting no money into it he became a 24 per cent share holder and I had to buy him out and resolve bad advice.

“After the first few months of starting the business it hit rock bottom as I was working hard on designs but not gaining more clients.”

Samantha joined the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) which helped turn her business around within weeks.

The entrepreneur also became a mum just after launching the firm, and shared her experiences with balancing family life and work as a self-employed mum.

She said: “I actually went into labor in the studio as I was working so hard. But I learnt how to balance life as my little girl was very poorly when she was born, so I learnt how to juggle family and business.

“But now my little girl runs around in the office and I love having her there, children can be so creative. I’m so lucky I’m self-employed and I can have my daughter with me.”

Wrexham Glyndwr University is holding an open day on Saturday, March 5. For more information visit