I have been drawing/colouring/painting since I was little and I have never doubted that this is what I was good at and this is what I wanted to do (except for that one time I apparently said I wanted to be a tennis player think my mum made that up!)
From art GCSE, I went on to art and graphic design at college, art foundation and eventually studied Graphic design at NTU. I left uni determined to be a children's book illustrator, I moved home for a year - I'm from a little town called Grimsby - and got a job in @waterstonesgy - I didn't know at the time but this is when my journey truly began.
I started drawing on the chalk boards in store, creating the promotions for events and upcoming book releases; about a year later I moved to Manchester and transferred to @waterstonesarndale and they embraced this talent as well. I still didn't know chalk boards could lead to anything at this time and at some point, I gave up on the book illustrator dream...
In 2018 I was kind of lost, I couldn't afford to stay at Waterstones and ended up getting a job in marketing. I quickly realised this wasn't the job for me, but I wasn't really sure what to do. I had set up a page for my chalkboard work when I was at Waterstones and I began to get a few enquiries; I started to think maybe I could do something with this... but it wasn't until I was invited to the @madeinbury Business Academy (a course for start-up business') that things truly changed.
It quickly became apparent that I couldn't stay at my job and do the course, so long story short: I quit. This was honestly the best decision I've ever made, and I fully launched Happy Chalk as a business in April 2019! I got a part time job to help with the rent, but I can happily say it's going really well - I am officially a chalkboard and window artist! Over the next year or so, I hope to turn Happy Chalk into a full-time venture, and never have to work for anyone else ever again!
Although unsure at first to the benefit of what the Made In Bury Business Academy could offer me, both Phil and Debi have opened my eyes and ignited my brain as to not only what a new company needs to think about when initially starting but also what a successful, long term company needs to act and look like.
Each session is made to be enjoyable as well as informative and you can tell they really want you to succeed long beyond your “Graduation” from MIBBA.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone starting their journey into owning and running a successful business
John Tate-Director of Open Space Aluminium Ltd
The Made in Bury Business Academy has been one of the best decisions I made for my business.
The course has been fabulous and has really made me stretch myself to think about what I want from my business in terms of development and expansion, but also around the whole ethos behind the services I provide.
I have made some really important changes to my business, especially around branding and marketing, and this has been so successful that I am now in a position where I needed to employed staff. I don’t think this is something I would have done without the input from the academy.
The best bit about the academy though has to have been the support I have received, both from Debi and Phil and from the other members of the academy. As a group we have shared our successes, our highs, our lows and really looked after each other. We have shared our skills to benefit one another and I really feel I am leaving the academy with a wealth of knowledge and some fabulous friends.
Just thought I would share this.... 3 years ago I had a dream.... to work for myself and grow my idea of building a business from scratch.... well it’s not been easy.
I started the academy with an extremely small business but Phil and Debi believed in me.... I was doing what a lot of us did at first.... working full time and I was trying to fit in ballooning at weekends and ordering and marketing and buying and everything else through the week. My salary mainly went towards buying equipment, paying for training courses, stock etc etc....
There have been too many sleepless nights to count, wondering if I am going to make it, if the orders will all be good for the weekends, if we will get enough orders in, if invoices will be paid and on time, checking my bank balance at 2am when the update from the bank shows whether I can pay my bills that day/week.
There have been moments when I have had to smile on the outside whilst feeling like crying on the inside.
There have been times when I have felt like just running back to my “old life”... guaranteed pay check at the end of the month. Stability.
There have been moments in my relationship that have been hard because of the long hours and exhaustion.
But every time something came up that made me doubt myself.... something else happened that day to make it better .... a large order for balloons came in, a limited edition Steiff bear sold in the shop or simply a little girl giving me a cuddle in the shop telling me she was happy I was there today.
This weekend was THE busiest we have had!
Just wanted to say.... that the quote “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” .... well I do truly work but I truly love what I do but it’s all worth it.
Remember.... “Making life changes may be scary, but you know what’s scarier? Regret”
About the Personal Development & Self-Motivation module
This module particular stands out to me as it came around at a time I felt I needed it the most. With the academy sessions being fortnightly you will find yourself looking forward to them and to being surrounded by like minded individuals, who are all striving for their own success whilst motivating you with yours. The academy sessions will always fill you with positivity, hope and a "can do" hop in your step. After this session, and evaluating my progress and where I aim to be, I left feeling extremely hopeful with a plan in place to achieve my goals. Debi & Phil generate a real air of support and positivity which rubs off on all the academy members, creating a forward moving culture of self belief and motivation whilst ensuring you are the very best version of you.
About the Branding module
It was within this module I started to develop a vision and mission for the business and what I wanted it to represent. The session delved deep into the psychology of branding and how developing your brand will ensure repeat customers, fantastic word of mouth, trust and reliability. It wasn't until I completed this module I really looked at my own understanding of my business and how other's portray it. Branding is much more than just a logo. It is about creating a community that your customers are proud to be a part of and talk about with others. With a lot of consideration to the points made in the session I feel I have created the foundations of a very successful brand which speaks for itself, retains clients & entices new ones with an ethos employees can connect with.
Overall, I have really enjoyed the academy and have got a lot from it. I always feel more upbeat and positive after being at the academy and with the added benefit of learning something. Many thanks to you both for an enjoyable, informative and value packed course. Long may you continue.
PAUL GIBSON – FIELD SERVICE SOLUTIONS
I have absolutely loved Academy and I am really upset it will soon be finished.
I didn’t think I had much to learn – but I have really benefitted. It has made me think about my business, network, make new connections in the area. I have lots of work in the pipeline and have so far billed £4,700 as a direct result of my Academy membership. My only critique would be I think the sessions need to be longer. They are often rushed as Phil tries to cram content in. We would also benefit from a handout summary at the end of each session. Certain members of the group dominated which is inevitable when you get lots of business people together (I possibly include myself in that although I have tried not to monopolise the group too much!). I wonder if an additional benefit would be to include a “focus on” session at the end of each class where each business is allocated a 15-minute Q&A session about their business issues. All in I think it has been a brilliant experience. Phil and Debi have gone above and beyond to help us all out and gave me invaluable advice on one particular issue this year. GRACE GRIEVE – PINK LABRADOR PR
Overall great course which had some great content. You’re able to take away something from every session. Some ideas or suggestions lead to other/ adaptable ideas which is great. LUKE MILLINGTON – STAY N PLAY DOGGY DAYCARE
After taking on this monstrosity of a project, namely The Two Tubs, I met Phil on his rounds of Made in Bury Business Marketing sales pitches. I believe he saw the desire in my eyes to make this business work but also saw my angst and frustrations in completing projects and moving forward with goals, which is when he approached me and invited me to take part in the MIBBA open day.
There were quite a number of business people awaiting Phil & Debis' presentation on why MIBBA was born. I loved what it offered but worried I wouldn't find time to be a full part of it, as you need to commit for a year. I had to think long and hard as once I committed, I could not back out or let Phil & Debi down, or myself for that matter. The pub really takes its toll on me and one of the things I struggle with is MANAGING it as the business owner. Which is when I decided to dedicated my time to write to Phil & Debi telling them why I was the perfect candidate, whilst at the same time telling myself that this is exactly what I needed.
I was delighted when told I was accepted to be part of the MIBBA, over the moon to be exact. I knew what this meant and I needed to put to one side time for this. I was dedicated and couldn't wait to get started.
So far the journey has been inspirational. Touching on my business plan to branding, selling myself verbally to looking at what a particular colour could mean to my logo are just snippets of things to expect.
What has made a massive impact on me though, are the rest of the group. We are all very different in what we do and based on our learning curves through our businesses and where they are at the start of the course; struggles, strives, frustrations & tribulations we have grown to respect, bond and appreciate each others successes and achievements like they were our own.
This has been a huge asset to me and my business. With each project I pursue MIBBA will be in the back of my mind like a check list.
I have really enjoyed the Academy, it has come at just the right time for me. The content has been relevant and interesting and has helped me develop my business in a number of ways, it has also helped me avoid making quite a few mistakes! It has been great meeting such a range of people and Debi and Phil’s input is always valuable. I do feel that the early sessions were somewhat rushed as there were so many participants, later sessions have felt much more relaxed and the time now available for discussion has been particularly useful. Generally, I have found the course very useful and would recommend it; it has enabled me to spend time focusing on my business in a structured way that otherwise would not have happened. I have learned invaluable new skills and made some great contacts. Thanks for the opportunity, I have really appreciated your hard work, commitment and generosity throughout the programme. SARAH HILL - SWIMMINGLY
Having only left my employment in February 2016, to focus on my small business, I was delighted to be invited to the launch of the Business Academy in April and was very pleased and surprised to have my application accepted.
The last six months have been invaluable to me and my business, and I cannot believe how far I have come. I was recently reflecting on some of the goals I had set myself for the first year of business and was delighted to see that I have already met and surpassed some of them, which I know would not have been possible without the advice and support provided by Debi & Phil Fellone and the academy members.
Each session, I learn something new and thought-provoking and take away something valuable. Whilst I am confident in the service I provide, I had very little experience in the business world, but have learnt so much from the academy already.
The content of the modules is always relevant and accessible and often generates helpful discussion among the academy members. The 1:1 discussions with other members has been a source of great knowledge and support, and I know that, as well as making good business contacts, I am also making some good friends, who understand the nature of being self-employed, with all its highs and lows.
I look forward to seeing what the next six months bring!
Aislinn Marek - Relax Kids Bury
The Made in Bury Business Academy has been incredible for Shooting Stars Football Academy.
Every session is well structured, organised and thought provoking and I have learned something important every week that I have been able to successfully apply to the business. More importantly, the honest critique of Debi, Phil and my peers is extremely refreshing and forces you to address any issues that could be stifling growth and/or the long term success of the business.
The Academy has armed me with the tools to build a solid foundation for growth and longevity and I can't thank everyone enough. I sincerely hope that this group will evolve into a networking group that will see us all working together and supporting each other for many years.
Thanks again Deb and Phil and, if you are in any doubt, make sure you apply for The Academy 2017-2018!
I was delighted to be selected as one of the businesses to join the Made in Bury Business Academy. The academy has been a great support to me from day one and the guidance, knowledge and expertise received from Debi and Phil has been second to none. I feel very lucky to be part of such a fantastic group.
The modules are presented in such a way that everyone is engaged and encouraged. Being part of the academy is beneficial to me for a number of reasons, but one of the most important for me is being able to share ideas and experiences with other like minded business owners.
The academy has encouraged me to think differently about aspects of my business and develop it in a way that will assist me into the future.
As a new start-up business (June 2015) I was excited to hear about the new mentoring initiative being run through Bury. From day one this has proved to be invaluable to my business. With the help of Debi and Phil we’ve had a brand re-gig, I’ve learned to put figures on paper that actually mean something, and my business is genuinely thriving. I can’t thank Debi & Phil enough for the encouragement and guidance I received to put together my MIBBA entry for new start-up business. Hearing that I was a top 6 finalist was the icing on the cake.
I would highly recommend this to any new business. Well designed and presented, by people that genuinely care about you and your business success
After my initial disappointment that the news from Best of Bury was NOT the start up, grant based funding I was so keen to identify, I was very intrigued by the notion of a training course that could help shape and futureproof 20 new start up businesses. I was ecstatic that my facepainting business Dollypops was selected as one of the lucky twenty to form the first @cademy.
Since starting the bi-monthly sessions earlier in the year I have experienced an enormous amount of positive personal and professional growth and development directly as a result of the course.
One of the primary and possibly hitherto unexpected gains has been the immediate, organic network building within the group and extending to friends, family and close contacts of the group members.
I think it's safe to say that every business in the group has gained a referral at least and at most some have totally changed how they're working , where they're working, set up new partnerships and joined new external networking groups.
Some of my happiest times and lightbulb moments this year have been in the @cademy sessions, learning and working within a sympathetic yet motivated group of people in the same position as I am.
The sessions are very well written and delivered with confidence and bucketloads of experience. Debi & Phil make an excellent team and manage the group and the learning experience with a touch of comedy when appropriate,but without straying from the core aims and realities of managing our own businesses.
Having lived through my Dad's entrepreneurial business start up in the 90's plus my own current experience I can say that the @cademy is definitely one of the best initiatives that Bury Council has been involved in - a great example of partnership work and thank goodness some people aren't scared to try new ways of achieving sustainable new businesses in the borough. Alexandra
I feel really lucky to have been selected for a place on The Academy as in a sense it's you and Phil saying that you believe in my vision and more importantly, you believe in me. This in turn is making me believe in myself more so it really is win-win.
Group dynamic is key to the success of The Academy and you've both focused on this from day one. Everyone is made to feel as if they have a contribution and no one is made to feel that their lack of experience in any field is a problem. Instead we are all there to offer the skills that we excel in individually which makes for a really strong workforce!
The peer support is wonderful and I really liked the addition of "Group Therapy" this week. Our experiences are so vast and wide reaching but i'm sure everyone in the group would agree that we've all got something to learn, even if we've not realised that yet!
I feel more empowered to embrace the idea of Networking since starting the academy as this is something that I have shied away from up to press.
I'm also starting to speak like a business woman!!!! For example, yesterday I was at a jeans fitting event doing mini make-up taster sessions and I approached the jeans fitter and asked "tell me more about your brand?" I think this will be hugely beneficial for me moving forwards as the language I use will make me more credible.
I'm loving the sessions and feel as if i'm getting real quality out of them with lots of "food for thought" when I leave each one.
A big thank you to you both for giving me a huge steer in the right direction! Jill Clark - Styled in Colour
"As someone starting out with a lot of passion, but not a lot of business "know how" the Made In Bury Business Academy is more than I could have hoped for!
Debi & Phil have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to offer and work wonderfully as a team to support the academy members. The modules are broken up into bitesize chunks that make them easy to access and reflect on, and each week there is something new to think about and help develop my business.
I can genuinely see my business going from strength to strength with their support. The members of the academy have bonded incredibly quickly, and the networking has been invaluable. The support and passion within the group is amazing!"
Aislinn Marek - Relax Kids Coach
I started GEM just over a year ago and it’s been a great year. After 4 sessions with Phil & Debi at The Made in Bury Business Academy I’ve already gained invaluable advice, and topics for thought and consideration on how I can take my business onto the next level.
The other members / new businesses are a great inspriation to me, and have been supportive and encouraging within the group dynamic.
It’s going to be a great year and I can’t wait to see what my future holds now I have the help, support and advice from the team at The Academy. Gill Arnott - GEM Business Support Ltd
Being a part of the Made in Bury Business Academy has already had a positive impact on myself and my business. It has sharpened my thinking around current and future plans and has provided excellent connections with other Bury businesses. I'm really pleased to be a part of it! Natalie Qureshi - Natal Hypnotherapy
I feel very lucky to be a member of the Made in Bury Business Academy.
Each module is fun, engaging and thought provoking.
Debi & Phil share their invaluable business insights, providing support, encouragement and business skills.
Everyone is made to feel welcome, we give each other supportive peer feedback and I find the group very inspiring.
My colleagues are always eager for me to share my newly gleamed business acumen and drive.