New clothing business is the perfect fit for Lydia
6 Jan 2023
Lydia Griffiths had long dreamed of running her own business – but wasn’t sure where to start. After joining the JETS employability programme in the Northwest, 22-year-old Lydia from Morecambe is now turning that dream into a reality. This is despite going through a tumultuous time in which she was threatened with eviction from her home.
Ingeus delivers Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions to help unemployed people find employed or self-employed work.
Lydia had previously been a cleaner in a hospice and enjoyed being in a care environment. She then signed up to a nursing course but realised it wasn’t for her. She decided she could stay true to her caring ethos by launching a business that would help good causes. A.R.K. Clothing (which stands for Acts of Random Kindness) would sell eco-friendly clothes online, with a proportion of the profits going to charity.
Lydia’s work coach at Morecambe Jobcentre Plus encouraged her to sign up to JETS for advice, and she was put in touch with Ingeus employment coach Ben Johnson-Lewis, who supported her with convenient remote appointments. Unfortunately, Lydia then faced the threat of eviction from her home, which affected her mental wellbeing:
“When I was referred to JETS I was feeling pretty great, I was on top of things and really excited but then the housing problems began to develop,” says Lydia. “It became stressful not knowing where I was going next. Ben was a very big help and was always checking how I was personally. He gave me a lot of moral and emotional support.”
Lydia was directed to Shelter for help with her housing problems. Thankfully, the threat of eviction is no longer imminent.
Ben gave Lydia checklists of tasks to complete, such as sorting out her tax paperwork, setting up a website, and securing a wholesaler. Lydia booked on to social media seminars to learn about the different platforms. She was also referred to John Kilcoyne at supply chain partner Kilcoyne Associates for advice on self-employment finances and accounting.
To help get A.R.K. Clothing off the ground, Ben sourced £500 to purchase the initial stock from the wholesaler. “Ben told me to make a list of what I wanted from the wholesaler and then cleared it with JETS to get the initial stock,” says Lydia. “He was rooting for me like a sales rep, telling everyone how amazing I am!” Once she had the stock, Lydia set up a photoshoot, using friends to model the assorted beanie hats, hoodies, and joggers.
With her home life now a lot more stable, Lydia is working hard to build up the business. “It’s really fun!” she says. “I didn’t realise how fun business is and I am enjoying all the different elements of it.” She adds: “I definitely recommend JETS, they are just so helpful. It’s having that moral support from someone you can turn to if you need to have a chat or a conversation. Me and Ben are basically mates now, he’s been amazing.”
JETS is a separate strand of the government’s Work and Health Programme (WHP).
Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) | Ingeus