Josie West - Dinky Ducklings
In 2010, Josie West graduated with a First Class Honours Maths Degree from Cardiff University. In 2009, whilst studying, she founded her own business. Dinky Ducklings supplies children, aged 1-12, with birthday parties and event entertainment, from Pop Princesses to Jolly Roger Pirates. “I’ve always loved working with children, and at their parties you just get to run around acting like a six year old”, Josie says. “It originally just started as an idea to earn a bit of cash while studying, and then it all got a bit exciting and kind of ran away with me!”
The first thing Josie did was create her website. “Luckily for me, my Mum is an IT Technician so I had some help setting up what I thought was the impossible”, she explains. “Mum sent me some simple and really easy website software and after a couple of weeks, the site was live.” Josie then researched into child development and the effect that the integration of music has on a young child’s life. “It was so interesting to find out the benefits of music and movement”, she admits. “I designed my themes and entertainment around that, and incorporated each aspect of child development into the sessions.”
Reputation is important in Josie’s line of work, and one of her biggest problems was getting that first booking. “Parents need someone to tell them it’s a good idea”, Josie explains. “It took a while for my first customer to book, as of course they’d be apprehensive. When the party came, it was brilliant and I think my best one, I had amazing reviews and the parents had more fun than the kids!”
Luckily for Josie, funding wasn’t a big issue, needing only props and webhosting to begin with. “All of my funding came from savings, but I didn’t use much”, she admits. “Once I’d bought the things I needed for one party I didn’t need any more. In terms of advertising, the best places that Mums look tend to have free advertising available so I am lucky in that respect”.
Josie’s biggest problem was time. “Studying Maths is full on”, she explains. “Dinky Ducklings would just be getting going then before I know it, I’m in the library 15 hours a day preparing for more exams. I had to learn quickly how to manage my time efficiently”. However, Josie doesn’t regret the hours she has put in. “You can only do it now really”, she says. “Once you leave Uni, you may have more time to play with, but you immediately get commitments and responsibilities and starting a business then becomes a risky decision.”
Student Enterprise have advised Josie throughout the launch of her business. “Regretfully I haven’t been able to attended the workshops on offer, but the advice from the guys in the office has been so valuable”, she says. “It’s just good to get someone else’s business opinion before you bore your friends to death.” Along with other schemes, Josie was also allocated space at Centerprise in the Students Union. “Centerprise is brilliant, it’s basically office space with a meeting room where you can go to work”, she explains. “If I sit in my room at home and attempt to do Dinky Ducklings work, I end up downloading music and endlessly searching Facebook - procrastination at its finest.”
To find out a little more about Dinky Ducklings, visit: www.dinkyducklings.co.uk