s Aiyesha Phelps | storyof.outset.org

Aiyesha Phelps

Client Portrait
Aiyesha first came across Outset through adverts on local buses. The friendliness exuded by the programme made her want to investigate further: “When I saw an Outset poster that said: ‘I work for me now’, the positive wording made me think I could be like that.”

“I left school and started an apprenticeship in a high profile hairdressing salon in Clifton, Bristol.  Due to family issues, I had to leave home at sixteen and was homeless for approximately one year. I then fell into a relationship with an older man who was violently abusive towards me, took advantage of me. I ran away to Wales and stayed with a family member and then had a phone call from a safe house to say that they had a space for me back in Bristol. It was here that I discovered alcohol and hard drugs.”

Aiyesha met her Enterprise Advisor, Lydia Samuel, at an informal Outset drop-in session in a local library. After being talked through the available options, she signed up for the Introduction to Enterprise course. The set of eight workshops are designed to help clients overcome any real or perceived barriers they have to running a business by building their confidence and helping them to become more aware of their own transferable skill set. It then seeks to demystify the process of starting a business. Topics covered include market research, basic financial planning and ends with the client having produced a feasibility document for their business idea.

When asked about her experiences on the course, Aiyesha said:

“I received positivity, support and enthusiasm from the group. I felt really comfortable, enjoyed it and looked forward to going each time.  It was nice to hear other people’s ideas and feedback on your own ideas. We all worked at things together even though we had very different business ideas and I loved my cups of teas and chocolate biscuits. I feel like I’m not alone with Outset Bristol and the pace is steady.”

Aiyesha was influenced by Outset’s inclusive atmosphere and her positive attitude began to affect others. Lydia explained: “Aiyesha is very outgoing, friendly and has a fantastic bubbly personality.  She was very open from the start about her background and her journey to get to where she was on that first day with us – something that inspired me and the rest of the group.”

After completing the course, Aiyesha was left feeling that, for the first time, she had the confidence to build something for herself:

“It’s made me think of parts of my life I never had to think about but now I do think about them and I’m glad I do…Outset made me feel that now, the only way is forward and no going back. I feel I have inspired my partner to move away from cannabis and mum has also said she is really proud of me (which she had never said before) after doing a radio interview for International Women’s day.”

She has since gone on to start a mobile hairdressing business and has come off benefits as of December 2012. In the future, Aiyesha hopes to open her first hairdressing salon. Working on her business ideas gave her a sense of accomplishment and also the confidence to improve other areas of her life: “I finally gave up cannabis in for my kids. Now I just want to invest the money into my business rather than drugs.”

When asked whether she had any advice for budding entrepreneurs who might find themselves in a similar situation, she replied:

“Just come along for a session and see what it’s about – you don’t necessarily need to have an idea. You can just listen to others in the sessions and there are lots of positive messages being given out and people provide loads of ideas that you might not have come up with yourself. And, most importantly, it works!”