A Barnsley entrepreneur who has set up her own packaging consultancy can trace her fascination back to her teenage years.
Sarah Greenwood, who has already gained contracts to develop packaging for a high street supermarket and a small cosmetics company, admits to collecting biscuit tins as a teenager.
“I know it sounds a bit geeky, but I loved tins when I was a teenager. My fascination started with my dad’s old fashioned Oxo tin. I loved the branding. And pretty soon I had a collection of tins of all sizes and I used to make boxes out of paper,” said Sarah, who went on to study physics and then polymer science at the University of Sheffield.
After working for BP Performance Films, a packaging manufacturer and printer in Darton, and a short spell in the automotive industry, Sarah worked on developing packaging for Asda in Leeds and then Fox’s Biscuits in Batley, before being made redundant just over a year ago.
“I wasn’t sure what to do,” admits Sarah. “But then I attended the business start-up programme called SmartStart and that really got me thinking.”
The SmartStart programme is managed by the Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC), at Wilthorpe, working in partnership with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. It has helped more than 200 businesses set up over the last two years with free business advice and workshops.
Greenwood Packaging Consultancy is one of about a dozen companies that graduated from SmartStart to the Genesis programme, which gives Sarah free shared office space at the BBIC, as well as access to a dedicated business coach for up to12 months.
And the contracts have already started to come in, with a start-up cosmetics company employing Sarah to design packaging to send luxury cosmetics through the post, and a bakery in north Wales asking Sarah to design wrappers for bread and rolls to supply a major supermarket.
“The work is fascinating as I get to be involved from the initial design stage all the way through to production. And I get to work with everyone from designers to production managers,” said Sarah.
“The support from the Genesis programme has been brilliant. Six months ago I wouldn’t have dared take on big projects, but the business support available through the BBIC means I now have the confidence, as well as the skills, to do the work.”
BBIC business development manager James Herbert said: “Helping Barnsley entrepreneurs set up successful businesses within the borough is the whole point of the SmartStart and Genesis programmes. So it is brilliant to see that Sarah is doing so well and has a lot of potential for the future.”
The SmartStart and Genesis programmes are part of a wider strategy to help grow the local economy, as set out in Barnsley Council’s Jobs and Business Plan 2014-2017.