Two graduates from Cardiff Metropolitan University have been shortlisted in the 2015 South Wales Business Awards.
Former International Business Management student Caryl Thomas has been shortlisted in the Female Entrepreneur of the year category and Sports Coaching graduate and outgoing Student Union president Josh Barnett has been shortlisted in the Young Entrepreneur of the year category.
Caryl, who graduated from Cardiff Met last year with a First Class Honours Degree, took the Young Entrepreneur of the Year title at last year's South Wales Business Awards. She established her own cleaning company during her final year of study, after benefitting from business advice from Cardiff Met's Centre for Student Entrepreneurship.
Sparkles Cleaning Services provides both domestic and commercial services, tailored to suit the people and businesses in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. Caryl has seen great success in her first two years of business – employees have grown from one to ten and the firm continues to secure new contracts.
Caryl, 24 from Briton Ferry, said: “I'd always envisaged setting up my own company, and feel very fortunate that I'm fulfilling my dream. I developed a lot of essential business skills and knowledge during my time at Cardiff Met and my learning journey continues every day. It has been hard work, but I feel proud to have grown and developed my company over the past two years and would love to make Sparkles a national brand.
“I'm thrilled to be nominated again in the South Wales Business Awards. It was a huge boost, both personally and for the business, taking home an award last year and I feel honoured to have been shortlisted for a different category this year.”
Josh, who graduated last year, is the founder of contemporary clothing brand Treatment Clothing. His business has grown quickly and the company has attracted a large following on social media. Josh has also been successful in receiving celebrity endorsement for his products after his t-shirts were worn by Little Mix in one of their music videos.
Josh was a winner of the Countdown to Launch competition in 2014 which secured him a year's one-to-one support and guidance to grow the business, as well as £1500 investment in the business which was funded by Santander Universities.
Treatment Clothing started when Josh decided to teach himself how to sew as a hobby and created his own one-of-a-kind t-shirts using a mix of fabric designs. After receiving positive feedback on his designs Josh decided to start producing the t-shirts on a larger scale and set-up a website in order to sell his designs. He soon expanded into other items including hats and sweatshirts.
Josh has worked closely with Cardiff Met's Centre for Student Entrepreneurship, which has provided guidance and support whilst he has built his business over the past two years. He said: “I received a great deal of support from the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship as I was establishing my business. This was really valuable, as coming from a sports course I had never studied business before so this was completely new territory for me. It was really helpful to gain that expert knowledge on areas like where to access funding, branding and marketing and also the importance of marketing myself as the business owner.
“Running my own business is fantastic but it is a steep learning curve and a lot of hard work. Being nominated for this award is a huge confidence boost and I am very much looking forward to the Awards ceremony in September.”
The university's Centre for Student Entrepreneurship aims to help support students who are interested in starting a business as well as developing their entrepreneurial skills, to assist them in securing further employment.
Natasha Hashimi, Entrepreneurship Education Manager at Cardiff Met, said: “It is always gratifying to hear of former students going on to achieve success and really utilise the skills and knowledge they have built up during their time with us. Both Caryl and Josh had a dream of starting their own business and put in a lot of hard work in order to understand what was required in order to achieve this goal. We are thrilled that they have both been shortlisted in this year's South Wales Business Awards and we wish them the best of luck in this and in their future careers.”
The South Wales Business Awards were launched in 2008. The 2015 final ceremony will be held on Friday 11th September at the Bear Hotel in Cowbridge.