Meet the graduate who used a UEA grant to grow her eco-friendly business
The graduate received a £7,500 grant from the UEA Enterprise Team
A UEA graduate was given a grant of £7, 500 by UEA to help grow her sustainable business.
Lucy Jeffrey studied Biology at UEA and graduated in 2016. After joining a graduate program at HSBC, she decided to found her own business, Bare Kind, selling eco-friendly products. Bare Kind has released a line of animal socks, giving 10% of profits to help save the endangered species printed on them.
With the help of a grant given by UEA, Lucy quit her job in 2020 and to run Bare Kind full-time. The Norwich Tab spoke to her about why UEA helped fund her journey, and how the university can help fund other students looking to start their own company.
When was Bare Kind founded?
“I incorporated the company in May 2018 and started selling my first products that August.”
What inspired you to start the business?
“I know it’s cool to have that ‘aha’ moment, but I was really just trying out new ways to progress myself, in both my career and my life. At the time I knew that my heart wasn’t in banking, although I was enjoying my job at the time. It was a good way for me to experiment and figure out what path I might want to take next.”
How did UEA help you to grow your business?
“I didn’t know this until recently, but UEA offer some amazing opportunities for students and alumni who are founding their own businesses. I applied for the UEA Enterprise ‘Grow It’ grant of £7, 500 to help accelerate the growth of my business.
“The process itself was invaluable to me; I had to write up a business plan for submission and the Enterprise team arranged for numerous people to feedback on the plan so I could adapt it accordingly. I then had to pitch my business in front of a panel. I was successful in securing the grant and have since been given the money. I was pretty stunned, I have no idea who else I was going up against but to have people validate my business in that way was probably the highlight of my Bare Kind journey so far! I’ve got plans for a brand-new range of animal socks supporting more animal conservation.”
Why is the university supporting your business and other businesses like yours?
“Creating this support network of entrepreneurs is invaluable for the university and it’s students and alumni. I graduated five years ago this summer but this has kept me close to working with the university and providing support for current students where I can. I’ve seen other universities that similarly encourage entrepreneurship in the ranks, but I haven’t seen any thus far that provide the same financial opportunities.”
What is the future of Bare Kind, and where did it start?
“It started very small and run just by me out of our flat, but I quickly moved to having my mum help with all the packing and shipping just so I could keep on top of it. She still does all this for me and my childhood bedroom is currently overflowing with socks! The next steps are to move into a fulfilment warehouse so I can step back from operations even further.”
What is your advice to students like yourself that may be thinking of starting their own business?
“A lot of people will wait for that one idea that’s going to be the ‘next big thing’, but that puts a lot of pressure on you. If you drill down into a lot of new businesses they won’t necessarily be doing something super innovative, they may just be filling a niche or reimagining something that’s already out there. Loads of companies sell socks, I am just putting my spin on it. Don’t worry about having a perfect product or service to start with, your idea will stay an idea if you never try it out.
“Use the services available at UEA, and anywhere else you can find free support. There is a lot of help out there if you just ask for it. I’d be happy to speak to anyone who was interested in starting or growing a business for example, and there are so many other people in the Enterprise Network at your finger tips!”
Students and alumni can find out more about UEA’s business opportunities here.