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Graduate named one of UK's top Female Entrepreneurs

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Published on 11 June 2020

Fern Snailham
Fern Snailham

Fern has been included in a list of 32 UK female entrepreneurs to look out for by Business Leader, the go-to industry bible for businesses. Whether they are an established and successful businesswoman, disrupting their industry, or are set to burst onto the scene – these are the individuals set to dominate the business community for years to come. 

Fern, 25, started out with just £800 in her pocket, zero staff and a burning ambition to grow her business. That grit, determination and entrepreneurial mind-set paid off as UNEEK Staffing has grown into a flourishing business with a projected turnover of more than £500k, a database of over 4,000 staff and a list of clients running the length and breadth of the country from football clubs, racecourses, gyms, exhibitions, automotive, retail, food and drink brands, charities, shopping centres, pop up shops, and roadshows to name a few. 

Having already been named a Duke of York Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018, the first-class Business Management graduate is thrilled by the latest accolade 

She said:I feel honoured to be recognised for making waves in the business world. I am so grateful to have made the list as one of the UK's top Female Entrepreneurs. Credit always to everyone I work with." 

She added: “I am very ambitious and always want to operate in an innovative and memorable way across communities and within business to help inspire others.” 

Fern moved into new premises in Team Valley, Gateshead, last year, to cope with the business growth, having been given her start by the Enterprise Place, the University of Sunderland’s business support facility which gave her access to their co-working office space in Hope Street Xchange, Sunderland’s centre for enterprise and innovation. 

Laura Foster, Enterprise Place Manager, said: “Since joining the Enterprise Place in 2017, we’ve seen Fern go from strength-to-strength. She has shown determination and passion and is an inspirational example of a graduate entrepreneur. She fully deserves this latest success, being named among the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs and we have every confidence her business will continue to flourish.”  

Fern also applied for and won a £2,500 University DOSH (Development Office Scholarships) Futures Fund award to support and enhance her business in order to maximize and open new opportunities to enable growth and stability.  

“It has been crazy since I launched UNEEK staffing in 2017,” explained Fern, from Stanley, County Durham. The high growth of the company was challenging as the way we operate always needs to align but also ensure we are keeping to our core values. Working with all of our amazing staff and clients UK wide has been a blessing.” 

She added: “My knowledge of dealing with clients and situations have developed so much, I’ve had to learn everything pretty quickly. I even had to develop my own website from scratch, as funds were tight when I first started out, but it’s been all worth it. Luckily I could draw on all the expertise around the Enterprise Place which has been invaluable. 

“I’m so pleased I took the plunge and had the confidence to go out and grow my own business.”

Explaining how she has been managing her business during the Covid 19 lockdown, she says: “We have been offering our digital services such as virtual business workshops, CV writing service, online marketing, and forward planning client events for lockdown easing.” 

What advice can she offer other entrepreneurs just starting out 

“Do something you’re passionate about, ensure you put time and hard work into it,” she says. “Getting a business mentor is a great way to have someone for knowledge and advice. Gain support from a local Business Hub.”  

Along with running her business, Fern is also a model and public speaker in the business world, regularly booked UK-wide for events, seminars, workshops, university talks and interviews delivering on a range of topics. 

She currently holds the Miss Natural Beauty 19/20 award and undertakes various modelling bookings for business promotions, clothing boutiques, catwalk and fashion shoots. 

About UNEEK Staffing 

Fern Snailham’s lightbulb moment to launch UNEEK Staffing came after she spent a year freelancing across the UK promoting new products and raising brand awareness in everything from supermarket products to cars. 

The work offered her the freedom and flexibility of being her own boss but she decided she needed the business qualifications to support those ambitions, and signed up for a Business Management degree at the University Sunderland. 

“I freelanced for several years within the promotions and events industry and saw many issues within the industry and thought ‘there’s got to be a better way’.”  

Fern has now built up an in-house database of hand-picked, reliable promotional staff, covering the UK. She matches personalities to brands to convey key messages, and deliver a positive, memorablebrand experience. 

She says: “All our staff are vetted, and we hold audition days up and down the country. When I worked in this industry, I came across situations in which some agencies would send anyone to promote the products, but who weren’t necessarily right for the role, the personality and the brand were just completely off. We wanted to make sure we match people’s personalities to the correct brand, to make sure it’s the correct fit for the campaign.” 

She added that due to the demand for her promotional staff, Fern began receiving requests from repeat clients to provide hospitality staff for key events, from racecourses to football grounds.  

Also keen to develop students’ employment skills, Fern, has provided 10 placements and internships to Sunderland students over the past year, and she has plans to recruit a further five full-time staff as the expansion of her business grows. 

She said: “While we look to expand UNEEK Staffing, we will always secure a main base in the North East. I always want to contribute to the local economy, helping with graduate jobs and general employment within the region. 

“I am also a massive advocate for empowering women in all aspects of their life, particularly when it comes to entrepreneurship and business. I think in the past there have been a lot of barriers for women reaching the top level, but the barriers are being broken now and women need to realise they can achieve equally the same as men if not more.” 

For more information on UNEEK Staffing, go to: https://www.uneekstaffing.co.uk/ 

The Internships and Enterprise project is receiving up to £2,207,656 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. ‌The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. ‌Established by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding 

The Enterprise Place offers students and graduates the opportunity of up to 12-months free membership and access to: 

-      Professional, co-working office space in Hope Street Xchange 

-      Expert one-to-one business advice 

-      A place on our Start-Up-Skills course 

-      Workshops, events and networking 

-      Commercial editing software 

-      Dedicated business development support team 

-      The opportunity to join a community of entrepreneurs 

For more information about the Enterprise Place, go to: https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/more/services-for-business/start-a-business/ (link is external) 

Hope Street Xchange 

Hope Street Xchange was developed by the University with £4.9m investment support from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP’s) Local Growth Fund and £2.23 million from the European Regional Development Fund. 

 Based on the City Campus it links the University to the region’s small business community by supporting fledgling start-ups and offering space for existing businesses to develop and grow. From here businesses can access students and graduates with the skills they need - through a range of options including placements, internships and knowledge transfer partnerships – as well as connecting them with the University’s world-leading research base, sector expertise and specialised hi-tech equipment. 

The centre was initiated by Sunderland Business Group, which aims to support entrepreneurship and increase the number of business start-ups with support from the North East LEP. 

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) 

 The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas. 

 Its aim is to create 100,000 more jobs for the North East economy and to ensure that 70% of these jobs are better jobs. 

 A better job is defined as being in the top three Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) categories, which are: managers and directors; professional occupations; and associate professional and technical occupations. Measuring this means LEP can demonstrate higher skilled and more productive roles in our economy. 

 LEP develop and lead the delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) which details how they will achieve this plan for growth for the North East. 

 For more information go to:http://www.nelep.co.uk/

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