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A Preston businesswoman who makes stunning rustic furniture from reclaimed wood has doubled her sales after receiving business support from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Marsh Mill Interiors, which operates from a workshop on Preston docks, creates bespoke tables, benches, shelves and other furniture for cafes, bars, offices and businesses across the UK, made from old scaffolding panels.

In 2019, sales leapt by over 100 per cent, with over 200 pieces of bespoke furniture created in the last 12 months. The business is now expecting to become VAT registered in 2020.

In addition to the company’s financial success, owner Leona Marsh won the highly commended award in the Creative Industries category at the 2019 Enterprise Vision Awards which celebrates female entrepreneurs in the north west.

As the business grew, Leona approached UCLan’s Lancashire Forum Creative project for support around managing the success of the one-woman business, with a view to learning tips to help her balance a growing workload of creating furniture while managing an expanding business.

Lancashire Forum Creative is a part-funded European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project (meaning there is no cost to eligible businesses) based at UCLan to support small and medium sized creative business owners to learn new skills about running their company, as well as meeting other creative business owners with similar experiences.

Leona said: “I think many small business owners have a similar mindset. I felt that because it was my business, I should do everything, from dealing with sales and accounts through to writing all the content for the website. At the same time, choosing to spend on marketing or professional development became more difficult when that money came directly out of my revenue.”

“The Lancashire Forum Creative course helped me to step back and change my mindset on how I spend my time with the business and put in place some processes to separate my creative and administrative time and become more efficient.

“As a new business, it’s fair to say I could never have afforded the level of support that I have received from UCLan, which has been really important in helping me to develop and grow the company.”

Elena Vasilieva, Project Manager at Lancashire Forum Creative, said: “Every company has different aims, from start-up businesses like Leona’s, through to established SMEs. The Lancashire Forum Creative offers a supportive peer-to-peer learning network, which enables you to engage and learn from other business leaders.

“For some businesses, that might mean sharing ideas about business growth or new products, through to recommendations of sub-contractors or even just somebody to hold you to account so you stick to your goals.”

Visit www.uclan.ac.uk/business for more information, or contact Elena Vasilieva, Project Manager, on 01772 894547 or lancashireforum@uclan.ac.uk.

The Lancashire Forum Creative is a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) project, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by Boost; Lancashire’s business growth hub.