A Cardiff School of Art and Design student who started an enterprising textile design business shortly before starting her university course, was declared winner of the 2017 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards at the national ceremony in London this week. Jenny Evans beat off stiff competition in the UK-wide awards which attracted thousands of entries. As the winner of the post-revenue category, she will receive £25,000 of seed funding for her business, a fully funded intern and an extensive package of mentoring and support services.
Jenny commented: "I set up my business – Jenny Evans Designs, shortly before enrolling as a Cardiff Met student in 2015 and it has completely spiralled since then. The University has been incredible in supporting me on so many levels and I know that I couldn't have achieved this award without their help. My tutors in the textiles department, staff at the Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Santander team at Cardiff Met have all gone above and beyond to offer their time, support and advice as I have developed my business plan, prepared for pitches and perfected financial spreadsheets!
"It has been an absolute privilege to be a part of the Santander Entrepreneurship competition and I am completely overwhelmed to have won the top prize. The Award prize itself is incredible – the funding will allow me to accelerate my plans and having an intern working alongside me for three months will enable me to focus on growing the business. This whole experience has been fantastic and I am beyond excited for the future.
"I intend to launch a brand new fabric and wallpaper line, which I will develop throughout my final year and aim to open a flagship store shortly after graduating. I intend to build a franchise model from this initial store so the business skills I'm developing through each competition I enter will be invaluable to me in the future.
"I try to grab every opportunity available to me and the openings presented to me here at Cardiff Met have been incredible. I have learned so much about running a business, developing my products, and presenting my ideas, and have met a whole range of inspirational people along the way."
The Chief Executive of Santander UK, Nathan Bostock offered his personal congratulations to Jenny at the awards ceremony in London and was so impressed with her portfolio of artwork and fabrics that he purchased it there and then to display in his office.
Jenny's latest win marks a string of award successes for the third year Textile Design student. She achieved runner up Student Entrepreneur of the Year at the Entrepreneur Wales Awards last November and runner up Best Business Idea at Big Ideas Wales Celebrated in April this year. Jenny is also shortlisted in the Young Entrepreneur of the year category within the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2017 and will attend the Final Award ceremony on November 1st.
Jenny has been working closely with Cardiff Met's Centre for Entrepreneurship to grow and develop her textile design business over the past two years. Her artwork is heavily influenced by nature and designed to be both beautiful and scientifically accurate. She has completed a number of high profile collaborations and commissions with organisations such as the British Dragonfly Society, WWT London Wetlands Centre and the National Marine Aquarium. Jenny will soon link up with the John England Irish Linen group in County Down, Ireland to share knowledge and as part of a Santander-funded mobility project, will spend 2.5 weeks living with a tribe in Borneo, to learn more about a specialist type of weaving practised in the rainforests.
Matthew Taylor, Director of Enterprise at Cardiff Metropolitan University said: "We are incredibly proud of Jenny's latest achievement. She really is an exemplar student and a focussed businesswoman, who has a clear vision of where she wants to be and embraces every opportunity presented along her journey to learn, experience and improve.
"Being a part of the international Santander Universities network enables our students and staff alike to access a variety of opportunities to develop business skills and Jenny's success today will no doubt encourage more people to take advantage of these fantastic opportunities.
"As a University we place great emphasis on employability and our partnership with Santander, along with the support provided by our Centre for Entrepreneurship, and other staff across the university, offer a winning formula in nurturing our budding entrepreneurs of the future."
Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK commented: "At Santander we have made a long term commitment to support higher education and we are proud to take an active role in fostering entrepreneurship among university students. We were extremely impressed with Jenny’s business skills and vision and wish her every success for the future.”