Alumna Libbie becomes a sweet entrepreneur

Posted: 1st June 2023

Alumna Libbie studied Health and Social Care, Creative Media, Dance and Applied Science at All Saints’ Academy Sixth Form. She then graduated from the University of Northampton with a 2:1 in Primary Education BA (Hons). We caught up with Libbie to talk to us about her journey to become an entrepreneur.

Why did you choose All Saints’ Academy Sixth Form?
All Saints’ Academy Sixth Form has a wide range of subjects to choose from and lots of my friends went there so I knew I would have a good support network when I was there.

What were your Sixth Form highlights?
My favourite memories came from the opportunities that they have given me. I went to New York, we learnt all about the history of Macy’s which was just amazing, I also went to TV studios to see Stars in Their Eyes being filmed.

What have you been up to since finishing Sixth Form?
I went to the University of Northampton for 3 years to study Primary Education. Once I graduated I came back to Cheltenham and got a supply teaching job and then all of a sudden Covid hit. Supply work stopped and I became a key worker in a supermarket. A couple of years down the line I then opened my sweet shop, Berrey’s Pick’n’Mix.

How did you start your business?
I started all of this in a field at a Car Boot selling on a Saturday and Sunday. I realised I really enjoyed it, loved every aspect of it and started doing bigger events like markets and food and drink festivals. I then decided I wanted to do this full-time I wanted to be my own boss, I wanted to prove people wrong that said you couldn’t. I sat down with a business advisor and we got everything sorted and put a deposit down on the shop I’m in now. We opened in January 2022, it’s been going very well, there are a lot of challenges with owning your own business, but I take them day by day. The support you get for owning your own business is amazing.

Do you have any advice for those interested in starting a business?
I would highly advise taking some kind of Business Studies A Level or GCSE just to have a basic understanding of the business world. My main piece of advice would be to prepare and plan, look at the competition that is out there, can you be different from them? Is there a spot for you in the market where you can squeeze in nicely and make yourself unique.

How did All Saints’ help you pursue your career path?
I think all the support from the staff was amazing during the process of UCAS and deciding what I wanted to do, I had no idea until I sat down with the teachers and made my mind up to study Primary Education. It was the support from all of the teachers there that was the big thing.

Why did you choose to live away at university?
I went the University of Northampton which is about 2 and half hours away. I think for a full university experience you need to move away from home to learn and grow as an individual. Being at home is your comfort blanket and as you get older you need to step out of your comfort blanket and I thought what better way than to go 2 and half hours away to university with no family. You make friends and that’s when you learn who you are as a person and then bring that home with you when you’re done. At uni you have to talk to people to make friends and that has definitely benefitted me now having my own business. I have to go out and have to talk to people if I want anything done, you can’t just sit behind a screen you have to physically talk to people and network your way around life.

Why the career change?
I was a supply teacher and then Covid hit and then no supply teachers were needed. I then took a managerial role in a supermarket. I got told by someone that because I’m a female I shouldn’t have a managerial role I should be behind a till! So, I wanted to prove them wrong! I tried my hardest to get to where I am and now I have my own shop.

Any advice for our students?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, we all make them, we learn from them. If you need help ask for it. That is what people are there for, people are going to help you as much as they can.

Tell us a bit more about Berrey’s Pick’n’Mix
We went down the hygiene route, so it isn’t open pick’n’mix, everything is in jars. We wear gloves, no one is touching the sweets so you know no one’s dirty hands have been in the jar.
We are reasonable, we pride ourselves that we are not over expensive. We are here for a treat and a treat should be affordable.

Academy Life