All across the UK our businesses are doing amazing things, whether that's leading the way in innovative new technologies or helping preserve traditional crafts. Merging the two is our StartUp of the Week, Leeds-based Sami Lovett of Just Lovett Design. We caught up with her to find out more about her business.

1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less.

My name is Sami Lovett, and I am an independent designer maker and the owner of Just Lovett Design. I provide three services: bespoke design and making, laser cutting and 3D printing. I take on commissioned work too, so the project possibilities are endless!

2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?

I am based in Leeds, where I have been living since I moved here for university in 2009. I love living here - it’s such an up-and-coming creative city, which is perfect for my business. I’m able to access a range of creative facilities and network with other local designers and makers.

3. How did you come up with the idea?

I have always had a creative flair and have been interested in owning my own business since my last year of university. In 2012 I graduated with a degree in furniture design. After graduating, I focused on improving my woodworking skills, whilst gaining management skills within local medium-sized businesses. Following this I sought employment at a secondary school as a design technology technician, where I discovered that I have a talent and a passion for laser-cutting. Since then I have been advancing my laser-cutting skills, which has led to discovering a new world of CNC design and manufacture, including 3D printing. Earlier this year, I decided to take the leap to become self-employed. Thanks to support from Airedale Enterprise Services and Virgin StartUp, in June I was able to do so.

4. What’s the business model?

I produce quality products that are worth that little bit extra than mass-produced items because they have been designed with a particular customer or need in mind. My target market are those individuals who need something that they can’t find in the shops, whether it’s a small personalized gift or a bespoke piece of furniture that meets their particular needs. At the moment I’m using social media and my own website to advertise the products that I make. I am also attending networking events and makers' markets to sell my products over the next few months where I hope to meet new customers. I intend to grow my customer base and existing relationships by making great products and providing a great service.

5. Who are your competitors?

I'd say that my designs and personal style make me different from a lot of other designer-makers, enabling me to provide my services across the whole country.

6. What’s unique about your business?

I am what makes Just Lovett Design unique. I create my own designs, I work with customers to fulfill their bespoke specifications, and I carry these out with my extensive range of skills and techniques.  

7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?

Making products was just a hobby for me. I used to make things as presents for friends and family. So when I applied for the Virgin StartUp Loan, Just Lovett Design was still a dream. The StartUp loan has made this dream become reality.

8. How have you used it to grow your business?

The money helped me in a lot of ways. I have been able to buy a vehicle for transport, a new computer for CAD work, a laser cutter, a 3D printer, and marketing materials. It's really helped with getting the business off the ground.

9. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?

My Mentor is David Gagen. He has been instrumental in helping my business become reality. He believed in my business idea, and helped me put my business plan and financial forecasts together.

10. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?  

Airedale Enterprise Services

11. Biggest achievement so far?

Just Lovett Design is in the early stages, but the business is already taking off.

12. What’s next for your business?

In three to five years, when I have established Just Lovett Design within the essential markets, I would love to expand the business to employ other designer-makers and become more involved in CNC manufacture. There is a huge potential in CNC manufacturing techniques and I would like to be a part of this growing industry. I also believe that hand-crafting skills are important and should not be forgotten. That is why I see a future for Just Lovett Design, where tradesmen with essential hand craft skills can work alongside CNC machines and technicians to provide a wider bespoke designer-maker service.

Background image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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