Uplifting support for new bra business

Juliet Hodson, who works full-time at South Tyneside Council as a performance and information support officer, first came up with the specialist adjustable bra idea when she was asked to develop a business plan as part of her degree studies at Gateshead College.

The 43-year old, who decided to pay her way through a BA Hons in Leadership, Management and Organisation to help with career development, is now embarking on the first steps to becoming a successful entrepreneur with her business, Loyal Support.

Through a competition at Gateshead College, she secured £4,000 funding from Gazelle for research and development at South West College’s InnoTech Centre in County Tyrone.

Gateshead College is a Gazelle founder college, leading the initiative to foster a new generation of entrepreneurs who can add value to communities, bring innovation to existing businesses and who can create their own employment with confidence and ambition.

Juliet, who lives in Whiteleas, South Tyneside, said: “I decided to study my degree at Gateshead College because I was able to do it part-time in the evening and fit it around work. I’d already completed a Foundation Degree in Business Management through work at the college.

“I never thought that studying would lead me to where I am now; working towards launching my own business.

"The degree was something I chose to do to widen my career prospects, because of the college’s new entrepreneurial module we got to think about what our business plan would be and how we’d start it and operate it. Now I’m actually working towards launching mine.”

Juliet’s bra design is unique because it allows women to adjust it in several places, including the cup, depending on what feels comfortable to them.

She explained: “Women often find that at certain times their bra can feel quite uncomfortable and dig in. It’s not a case of having the wrong sized bra, our bodies can differ quite dramatically because of things like water retention and during certain times of the month.

“This bra, which will be made for all sizes, allows the wearer to adjust it in several places so they can always ensure that they are comfortable.”

In 2012, Gateshead College announced that it would embark on a new scheme to ensure students are better qualified for work or to start their own business. It became one of the UK’s first entrepreneurial colleges.

As part of the programme the college is adapting teaching techniques, styles and timetables to allow more flexibility, a  more personalised education experience and is embedding enterprise and entrepreneurial skills and activities into day to day learning.

Vicki Hodgson, entrepreneurial activity manager at Gateshead College, said: “Juliet’s business idea is fantastic and like so many successful businesses, her actual product is quite simple but it’s innovative.

“I’m confident that she will make it a huge success following the R&D at the InnoTech Centre.

“Gateshead College has made a commitment to equip our students with entrepreneurial skills so that they can go on to either add value to an existing business as an innovative, forward-thinking employee or to establish their own business and support the local community by becoming an employer.

“Our role as a Gazelle founder and our status as the Entrepreneur’s Forum’s exclusive education partner is helping us to create some fantastic opportunities for our students and members of the wider community.”

The InnoTech competition was open to any small business and two other local enterprises are also set to benefit from £4,000 worth of product development services at the South West College-based centre.

Newcastle-city based CrowdIPR has won the funding to develop an IP and technology research tool while Blooie, also based in Newcastle, will use its prize to further develop its online chat and analytics platform.