Wednesday, August 12, 2015

News: Ambassadorial role for Patchwork Pig owner

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Positive and passionate, Patchwork Pig's Charlotte Scothern is a perfect ambassador for Rotherham.

Opened in Rotherham town centre in October 2012, the colourful gift shop sells a wide variety of products, from children's toys to soaps and bath bombs.

The award-winning shopkeeper is part of group of young entrepreneurs acting as ambassadors, visiting schools and colleges in the borough with Rotherham Youth Enterprise (RYE) to discuss self-employment and enterprise at careers fairs and other events.

"I'm a great believer in using word of mouth to spread positive messages so I was more than happy to get involved with Rotherham Youth Enterprise and go out to schools to talk about my business," said Charlotte, 23. "There still seems to be a push towards an academic route so it's good to be able to raise the awareness of self-employment."

Hundreds of young people have been inspired to explore business ideas and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be their own boss in Rotherham. RYE secured part-funding through the European Regional Development Fund, to provide self-employment support, advice and premises for young adults (up to the age of 30) in the area.

Charlotte added: "Rotherham is a great place for young people to start their own business with support such as RYE, and especially in retail, where ideas can be tested out in the Makers Emporium."

A few doors down from Charlotte's shop is the Makers Emporium shared retail space that has seen a number of creative young entrepreneurs "test trade" with support from agencies such as RYE. Charlotte admits that in contrast, she jumped in and took on a vacant unit with no previous experience in retail but a positive attitude, enthusiasm and a desire to bring something unique to her hometown.

Patchwork Pig has been there since the start of the changing face of Rotherham's High Street, a testament to tenacity, and is now surrounded by other enterprising retailers, boutique shops and heritage regeneration. It is often picked out by senior council figures as the sort of independent and unique business that is thriving in the town.

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The success of the business has seen Charlotte recognised at the Rotherham Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber Awards and again at a recent city region wide awards.

On the latest win, Charlotte said: "I really didn't expect to win as it was for businesses across the whole of the Sheffield city region. Not only that but it was for leisure businesses as well as retail.

"It is an amazing achievement, to be up against other wonderful established businesses and to have to won is just unbelievable. I couldn't have done it without the support of my family, friends, the RIDO team at the council and Rotherham Youth Enterprise. It just goes to show how amazing it is to have a business in Rotherham town centre."

Jackie Frost, manager at Rotherham Youth Enterprise, added: "Charlotte is a great ambassador for youth enterprise, providing a real world insight into self-employment for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Her enthusiasm and positivity is infectious and a big part of the success of the business is that you can tell that she loves what she does and loves what she sells.

"We look forward to working with more young potential retailers to develop ideas for unique and niche businesses in Rotherham."

Looking ahead, a new Patchwork Pig website has recently launched that keeps control of stock and updates products. Enabling shoppers to buy direct, it is also proving useful for shoppers who like to browse online and then come into town to see and feel the gifts before buying.

"I'm hoping to attract even more visitors from further afield," concludes Charlotte. "I'm off to Japan in my role as local president of JCI [Junior Chamber International] later this year where I'll be flying the flag for Rotherham."

Patchwork Pig website
Rotherham Youth Enterprise website

Images: Tom Austen

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