Young Business Person of the Year

 

Category criteria

  • Entrants for this category must be aged 40 or under on January 1, 2024.
  • Entrants could be employed or self-employed but should be directly responsible for the success of their enterprise.
  • The judges will be looking for evidence of the entrants’ determination to make the most of new opportunities to help fuel their company’s success.

Dr M Sha

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Dr M Sha is a first generation immigrant woman determined to create an empire from scratch.
The 35-year-old has launched an aesthetics and wellness clinic alongside her work as a GP.
She opened her first aesthetics clinic within M Club in Stoke-on-Trent in August 2023 and has ambitions to open a clinic in the city centre.
“When people talk about aesthetics they think about overly filled cheeks and lips. It’s so much more than that,” she said. “I want to specialise in menopause-related skin and scalp problems and to introduce aesthetics treatments for men.
“A very important part of the process is talking to people about why they want a procedure and whether to go ahead with it. We talk about whether their health and self-esteem is being affected because treating that is more important.”
Dr Sha, who works as an out of hours GP and also as an aesthetics trainer for The Harley Institute in London, says that Stoke-on-Trent doesn’t currently have many doctor-led aesthetics clinics.
She is currently the only practitioner at her clinic but says her husband, a research scientist, researches the treatments and products she offers before they are introduced.
Dr Sha added: “My small clinic is in the massive MClub Spa and Fitness Centre and its owner, Mo Chaudry is an absolute inspiration. I wish I could be the next Mo for Stoke-on-Trent and my family.”
She has entered five categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards – Small Business of the Year, Young Business Person of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Business in the Community and High Street Impact.

Anna Morrallee

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Anna Morrallee has set up a business using art to empower people to think positively and to improve their mental health.
Anna, who is also known as Mora, is the creative force behind Moonbow, a one-of-a-kind Neurographica service based in Stoke-on-Trent.
A multifaceted artist, positive mindset champion, writer, poet and environmental advocate, she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in April 2022 driven by the desire to bring Neurographica to the local area.
Neurographica is a form of therapeutic art that combines elements of psychology and neuroscience. It involves creating abstract visual representations to explore and express emotions, thoughts and subconscious patterns. This creative practice is used for self-discovery, stress reduction and personal growth.
Moonbow offers a unique approach to success by unlocking the potential of the subconscious mind through the simple act of drawing.
Mora, who has just completed the Peter Coates MSc in Entrepreneurship at Staffordshire University, said: “I empower people through art to create positive changes in their life.”
Mora's offerings include a diverse range of workshops, training courses, webinars and podcasts tailored for those who aspire to build confidence and make incremental changes in their lives.
Mora is currently the only provider of Neurographica in Staffordshire. Her vision is clear – to elevate the visibility of Neurographica in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, fostering confidence and self-belief.
“I want Moonbow to be visible to the city because I can help those who are struggling with confidence and stress” she says.
With a canvas of possibilities before her, she looks forward to shaping a future where Moonbow continues to leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those seeking transformation and empowerment.
Mora has entered the Young Business Person of the Year and Alumni Business Person of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Natalie Jenkinson

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Sculptor Natalie Jenkinson created some ghost figurines for Halloween that proved such a success she launched The Little Ghost Company and now has more than 55,000 Instagram followers.
Natalie, who is Staffordshire University sculpture and creative technologies alumni, now sells her work as far afield as the US, Singapore and Australia.
Everything is made in small, limited edition batches by the 32-year-old from Park Hall, who previously worked at Madame Tussauds in London sculpting life-sized bodies.
“It’s all stemmed from my time at Staffordshire University,” said Natalie. “I already had a first degree in special effects but at Staffordshire University I moved into ceramics and was also able to join a business course which helped me to get started with my own business. I owe my business to Staffordshire University.”
Natalie’s ghosts sell all year round – she jokes that a ghost is for life and not just for Halloween. Every piece is sold online by Natalie rather than through stockists and distributors.
She said: “When I started the business I was making ceramic jewellery but when I made some ceramic ghosts I was inundated with messages. It evolved from there. The jewellery wasn’t selling well but the ghosts really were.”
She added: “Being from Stoke-on-Trent, I grew up surrounded by the pottery industry and I always had an interest in it but it wasn’t until I was older that I had my first experience in ceramics as I took a night class which really inspired me.
“I am so proud to be from such a creative city and to be a part of keeping the tradition of ceramics made in Stoke alive.”
Natalie has entered the Alumni Business Person of the Year and Young Business Person of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Zerline Long and Reiss Seymour

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

When Zerline Long woke up from a vivid dream that she was serving vegan sausages at a festival her partner said ‘let’s do that’.
Six years later the couple’s business, Vausages, has become one of the country’s top vegan street food retailers. They sell their food at festivals, shows and events around the UK.
They make sausages from scratch using their own, unique recipe in a commercial kitchen at a factory unit in Cannock Chase after crowdfunding £30,000 to move production out of the kitchen at home.
Zerline and partner Reiss Seymour, both aged 26, are now working with food distributors to get Vausages into independent food chains, restaurants and cafes around the UK.
They had no previous experience of running a business when they began – just a shared passion for vegan food.
“It’s been a challenge from the get-go,” said Zerline. “We started off as two young people who just really liked food. We literally started off with a dream I had and worked from there.
“It was very difficult because we had no connections in this industry. We had to learn everything from scratch by ourselves.
“I was just working at a coffee shop at the time and Reiss was working for his dad. I knew we could do it and we just kept on going.
“We worked on our sausage recipe, which we still work on now, and went to market after market and festival after festival. It’s been quite a mad journey.”
Zerline and Reiss now have one permanent member of staff and have a team of around 15 people to work at events.
The couple’s USP is that they make their own sausages from scratch and use a wholefood, plant-based recipe including mushrooms and quinoa designed to avoid key allergens.
Zerline added: “A lot of street food businesses buy from wholesalers. We saw a gap in the market to do something different.”
Vausages has been entered for the Innovation Award category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and Zerline and Reiss have jointly entered the Young Business Person of the Year category.

Matthew Bridger

Young Business Person of the Year nominee

When he was just 16 years old Matthew Bridger set up Magnate Generation, a project to encourage young people who were not in education to set up their own business, start an apprenticeship or rejoin full-time education.
The scheme was funded by Matthew’s local police and crime commissioner in Kent, had a high success rate and was later turned into the registered charity called Unleashing Lives with a vision of empowering disadvantaged individuals and unlocking their potential.
It’s just one of a string of initiatives spearheaded by Matthew who, in 2019 at the age of 18, became one of the youngest parish councillors in the UK. Many of Matthew’s projects link to social mobility and education.
These include The Little House Project which still runs today and was founded by Matthew to ensure homeless people had a present to open on Christmas Day.
He founded a homeless evening support team, has organised Erasmus Youth Exchanges and coordinated pandemic volunteers and food parcels in his local area.
Now working as the senior communications advisor and constituency office manager for Stoke-on-Trent MP Jo Gideon, Matthew has turned his attention to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
He is a patron of Better Together Community Support Group, trustee of Sutton Trust Community Group in Abbey Hulton, outreach and communications officer for the Harper-Lee Foundation and has been a school governor.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently honoured Matthew as the 2241st Point of Light recipient in the UK.
Now Matthew has been nominated in the Entrepreneur of the Year and Young Business Person of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
In her nomination for Matthew Emily Davies said: “I’m nominating Matthew as he is an absolutely remarkable individual and believe that he needs to be recognised for his commitment to public service and how over the last 10 years he has made an enormous contribution to the local community across the whole of the United Kingdom.
“Matthew’s achievements at such a young age are an inspiration to many. He has shown that age is not a barrier to making a difference and that anyone can contribute to their community if they have the passion and dedication to do so.
“His commitment to public service and his ability to connect with people on a personal level make him a role model for young people looking to make a difference in their communities.”
Matthew said: “I am truly delighted and honoured to have been nominated for an award, especially as a young entrepreneur. This recognition is not just a personal achievement but a celebration of the collaborative efforts of remarkable individuals who have played a vital role in my business endeavours and charitable initiatives.
“Running businesses goes beyond financial success; it's about creating positive change in the community. I remain steadfast in the ongoing journey of giving back and addressing the critical issues that shape our world.
“This nomination is more than just an acknowledgement of my efforts; it’s a testament to the power of collaboration and the impact we can make when we unite with a shared purpose.
“While I may not know the outcome yet, being nominated is a humbling experience. I firmly believe that everyone has a voice and the power to change the world – it’s our sole responsibility to use it, and that is what I will continue to do. This nomination serves as a reminder that our actions, both in business and philanthropy, can leave a lasting impact on the lives of others.”

Frankie Hurst

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

A mum and daughter have opened a boutique gym-alternative studio with the aim of bringing fun back to fitness.
Josie McLean and her 26-year-old daughter, Frankie Hurst, ran fitness classes in church and community halls around North Staffordshire before finding their perfect premises in Station Road, Kidsgrove in 2023.
Their diverse classes include aerial yoga, pound (with drumsticks), boogie bounce and they are the only studio within a 25-mile radius to offer bungee fitness.
Facilities include a main studio, a Zen Den social space, a private therapy room, a private personal training room, a second spin studio and now a small crystal shop.
The Fitness Collab began with just Josie and Frankie but now has a team of seven instructors working with more than 60 members.
Frankie said: “We believe that you don’t need to just go to the gym to keep fit. In fact there’s a lack in the community for those who want to look after their health but don’t feel comfortable in a gym environment.
“We work with all different age groups ranging from three to 83 years to empower, give confidence and help people who may not be your regular gym-goers to manifest their health.
“We provide a senior fitness class at the studio and I also visit St Thomas’s Church every Monday to deliver a seated fitness class for more than 20 seniors. They enjoy 45 mins of exercise and then stay for a coffee and biscuit to encourage socialisation, which is especially important after covid. Many friendships have been formed in this class and it’s so lovely to see the community come together.”
The Fitness Collab works with other small businesses to host the likes of retreat days, business empowerment events and charity fundraisers.
Last year the team staged a fitathon and raised £600 for the charity Aura. In 2022, before opening the studio, Josie and Frankie held a fitathon in a park and raised more than £400 to support relief efforts in Ukraine.
Frankie added: “We believe that The Fitness Collab has given the community a safe space to exercise, improve their mental and physical health and make amazing new relationships.”
The Fitness Collab has entered the Small Business of the Year and Business in the Community categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and Frankie Hurst has entered the Young Business Person of the Year category.

Melanie Sheldon

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Surface pattern design graduate and former youth worker Melanie Sheldon has combined her two callings in a new business.
Melanie, who is currently on the Peter Coates MSc in Entrepreneurship course at Staffordshire University, has set up MsheldonDesigns to deliver workshops where people can design their own customised cups.
She uses digital software to create personalised vinyl stickers which she then applies by hand to cups, bags and T-shirts.
Melanie, from Leek, worked at YMCA North Staffordshire for seven years before stepping away from her youth work role to concentrate full-time on launching her business.
She said: “Last year I decided to take the plunge and focus on what had been my side hustle. I make custom cups which are personalised for people and also personalise T-shirts and bags.
“I do pop-up events and workshops, had a pop-up shop in Hanley and have had my products at a fashion show.
“I did a marketing apprenticeship so have a strong social media presence for the business and do a lot of social media creation.”
She said the MSc course is giving her a good grounding in how to run and grow a business.
“It’s really inspiring being around likeminded people. I particularly enjoy the group work where we bounce ideas off each other and just work together.
“It’s a really good network of people and I’m learning so much. It’s giving me a good grounding into how to run a business.
“I currently work from home but one day I would love to have my own shop and I’d like to deliver workshops around the UK. My dream is having my products in a vending machine.”
Melanie has entered the Young Business Person of the Year and Alumni Person of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and has entered MsheldonDesigns for Small Business of the Year.

Paige Harrison

Young Business Person of the Year entrant

Counsellor and psychotherapist Paige Harrison felt she couldn’t give clients enough time when she worked in the NHS and schools, so she set up her own private practice.
Paige, from Stoke-on-Trent, set up The Nook at Milton where she offers one-to-one counselling and psychotherapy sessions as well as group therapy.
She also holds retreat days and women’s circles including the likes of holistic therapies, yoga, nutritious food and walking.
“I’ve mainly worked in education settings, specialist provisions and within the NHS offering counselling and therapy work,” said Paige, who studied Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy at Derby University.
“I was only able to offer people six sessions. I wanted to give people the choice and control to have as many sessions as they needed.
“I went part-time to open a private practice then left my job completely, found the perfect premises and just went with it.”
The Nook opened in March 2023 and is designed to look and feel different to a traditional clinical setting. There are comfortable armchairs and soft blankets. Clients are welcomed by Copper, a therapy dog.
“I’m very much not clinical,” she said. “I’m trying to break stigmas about mental health and seeking support. It’s about trying to move out of the box.
“The Nook is a cosy, warm, welcoming, safe space.”
Paige is currently the only member of staff at The Nook but brings in collaborators to help facilitate retreats.
She added: “My business is small but unique. I can see myself expanding the brand over time and maybe having other therapists but I don’t want to lose what makes The Nook unique.”
Paige has entered the Young Business Person of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and The Nook at Milton has been entered for Small Business of the Year.

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