Factory help gets Suzanne started

Peppa Pig, Suzanne Thomson with grandaughter Kate and Business Factory adviser David Ireland.
Peppa Pig, Suzanne Thomson with grandaughter Kate and Business Factory adviser David Ireland.

REDUNDANCY provided the perfect palette for a new business venture.

Former children’s centre worker Suzanne Thomson has launched her own messy and creative play centre, Squiggles N Giggles CIC, thanks to an initiative supported by North Tyneside Council.

Designed to provide families with a place to enjoy messy and creative play, the business, which has been set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC), will also support community groups through outreach activity.

Operating from the White Swan Centre in Killingworth, Squiggles N Giggles provides indoor and outdoor space where children up to the age of eight can develop their imagination and creativity through messy play.

Having worked in children’s centres for years, Suzanne knew the importance of this type of play in a child’s development, but also recognised the business potential in providing a dedicated permanent venue.

Faced with redundancy in autumn 2010, she shared her initial ideas with The Business Factory – part of The Raising Enterprise North Tyneside project, funded by North Tyneside Council and ERDF.

Suzanne said: “I could picture what I wanted to create and what the children would experience from their visits, but knowing how to take it from the vision inside my head into reality was different all together.

“The Business Factory was able to help me to shape a comprehensive business plan and advise me on issues such as the Community Interest Company status.

“Whilst I need to make a living from the business, I was also keen to provide a service to the community, particularly families who do not normally have access to such activities.

“Mark Oakley and David Ireland at The Business Factory advised me on how to set up business as a CIC and helped me to successfully apply for funding from The Big Lottery.

“This funding has allowed me to access a van so that I can take my messy play activities out in to the community and provide free outreach sessions.”

Squiggle N Giggles will be open five days a week and will offer age specific drop in sessions to ensure that the materials and play on offer is suitable for the children in attendance.

Session times are available on the website on www.squigglesngiggles.com

If you are thinking about starting your own business drop into The Business Factory at 86 High Street West, Wallsend NE28 8HY, call (0191) 263 6092 or e-mail info@businessfactorynt.co.uk

“I hope that this will give even more reason for families to visit the venue, knowing that their children can enjoy fun yet beneficial play at the same time as knowing that their money will be also be used to help others less fortunate to enjoy messy play too.”

David Ireland, business advisor at The Business Factory added: “Suzanne came to us with an idea she was passionate about. We helped her to turn this passion in to a workable business model and are quite amazed by the results. Squiggles N Giggles is a business that she ought to be very proud of and which will be a valuable asset to families in North Tyneside.

“Setting up a Community Interest Company is no easy task, but for people like Suzanne who want to give back to the local community they are a great option. And with funding available to support CICs we expect to see more new businesses considering this option as knowledge and understanding of them grows.”

North Tyneside’s deputy mayor, councillor Judith Wallace said: “As a Council we are keen to encourage an entrepreneurial culture in North Tyneside that enables people to develop their ideas into real business opportunities.

“As well as having business ideas people need to be able to deal with the regulations associated with setting up a business.

“Staff at the Business Factory have the expertise to explain to people what is involved and guide them through the procedure so they can establish a solid foundation on which to grow.

“I’m delighted that the Business Factory project has helped Suzanne use her skills and experience to set up a really innovative venture that will be an asset to families and children in the borough. We wish her every success.”

If you want to be your own boss but don’t have a business idea, there are hundreds listed on The Business Factory website www.businessfactorynt.co.uk