A businesswoman who vowed to continue the business established by her parents after they died is thriving with the help and guidance of business support network Inspire.
ACE Marquetry at Collingbourne Ducis, between Marlborough and Tidworth, designs, cuts, assembles and presses intricate veneers onto pieces of fine furniture.
The business, which employs six people, was founded in 1986 by Claire Englefield, who was introduced to the luxury furniture world by her husband, the world renowned cabinet maker Alan Englefield.
The couple's daughter Bethan joined the firm in 2012 after completing her design diploma at Central Saint Martin's.
She took over the business after her parents' death in 2015 – when she was aged 24.
"It really was like being chucked in at the deep end,” said Bethan. “There was no plan in place and the first year was a huge struggle to keep our head above water.
“Both myself and my sister inherited the business, but as she hadn’t been involved in the business before and this was not part of my original life plan, we really had to consider if we wanted to take it forward.
“Then I had a lightbulb moment. My background was in design and I realised I had the transferable skills that would help me overcome some of the challenges. But I realised I needed some help.”
Having decided to attend a local business event, Bethan was introduced to Nynke Hunter, the head of Inspire’s Elevate group which supports ambitious businesses at the start of their growth journey.
Bethan said: “I hadn’t heard of Inspire, but I went back home and did my research, thought their fee was reasonable and decided to give them a go. It turned out to be the best decision I made.
“They put me in touch with a business mentor, got me funding help and introduced me to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programme which I applied to, got on and it really was life changing. I really wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Inspire.”
Inspire is committed to helping clients develop and implement a winning strategy, connecting them to over 100 partner experts to provide key areas of business support as and when needed, and enabling them to share knowledge and experience with a local community of like-minded and like-sized businesses.
The company has also partnered with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programme to bring this valuable, fully funded resource to ambitious business leaders in the South West.
“Thanks to Inspire and the Goldman Sachs programme I now have a business plan and a growth plan for the next three-five years and I’m sure Inspire will be a great help along the way,” added Bethan.
“They are always there if I need them, and I meet up with Nynke every few months for a coffee and she’s there to offer any advice if I need it.”
CEO of Inspire Rob Perks commented: “Running a business on your own can feel like a very lonely place and it’s important SMEs get the right help, advice and support.
"It’s amazing to see how Bethan has taken the business forward these last three years and we are delighted that she has benefitted from Inspire. We look forward to her continuing success in the coming years.”