Recession Changed my Life – For the Better

The recession has been a challenge for many people but an opportunity for others. 24-year-old fashion graduate, Maxine Wells, was one of those who found that it changed her life for the better.

The economic downturn has proven particularly difficult for young people. Like many of her age, Maxine was fresh from university and struggled to find work. She decided instead to create Maxine’s of London, a high-end lingerie label, selling handmade corsets and luxury underwear online and through a London boutique. She is now on the verge of signing up a new boutique to stock her range.

Maxine explains:

“I was looking for a job at the worst possible time as the recession was at its peak. I decided to start making lingerie in my spare time and soon took the decision of turning this activity into a proper business.”

“Jumping straight from university into the world of business was extremely difficult, particularly for a specialist business such as Maxine’s of London. Money and the right financial support represented a challenge and getting people to notice my work was even harder.”

Maxine spent four months researching how to set up her own business and turned to Business Link for advice which she found extremely helpful.

“The meeting I had with a Business Link adviser was really helpful. She gave me lots of advice. At the time I was worried about how likely it was that my business would take off and we discussed that. She also outlined how hard the first few months could be and, of course, the positives.”

Maxine also attended a Business Link pre-start workshop. As well as the additional advice, she says it was helpful to have a chance to share ideas with people who were facing the same challenges as she was, and worrying about the same things.

Maxine added:

“Setting up Maxine’s of London has been a lot of hard work and really challenging, but it is one of the best things I have ever done. Without the recession I would now be an employee and it would have probably taken me years to set up my own business.”

Older people have also been badly hit by the recession. However, a few of them have managed to turn adversity into an opportunity. 59-year-old Janet Thornton was faced with redundancy and decided to start her own business.

The Sheffield Law Recruitment franchise where Janet had worked for 12 years was about to go into insolvency towards the end of 2008 and redundancy was approaching. She says:

“I was 59 and after a 20-year career in recruitment I wasn’t ready to retire.”

Her idea was to set up her own law recruitment business and things quickly developed from there.

In November 2008 she attended an enterprise day set up by Business Link and received help with putting together her business plan. By early January 2009 she was ready to launch Janet Thornton Recruitment.

Janet also attended a Business Link course on book keeping. She says:

“Businesss Link has really helped me move forward and made me understand what is needed to run your own business successfully.”

Janet Thorton Recruitment is now going from strength to strength and is on course for £100,000 annual turnover, way above the business plan forecast.

Both Maxine and Janet also used, and continue to use the Business Link website which offers a wide range of tools that can help people set up their own business. One of them is the Business Start up organiser, available at

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