Katie is the owner of Pinz and Needlez, a business based in Darwen Creates, the start-up space in Darwen Aldridge Community Academy.

“Being passionate about something is a great motivator and in business you have to love what you do.
I’ve dreamed of running my own business since I was a little girl, but Pins and Needlez simply wouldn’t have happened without the support the Aldridge Foundation has given me. I’m the creative one in the family but I struggled at school with dyslexia, though that wasn’t diagnosed till later, and people told me I wasn’t academic enough to have my own business – you just end up doubting yourself.

I got a job as a cleaner at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy. I used to go as a pupil to Moorland High School, the school that DACA took over from. Over time I got to know the DACA staff, especially the Vice Principal, Miss Billington. We chatted about the idea I had that I’d been going over and over – she was so supportive. The school has these business pods – called Creates – available for both students and non-students, and I was encouraged to set up shop in one of them, managing my hours there around my cleaning work. It was proper daunting, but the thing was I’d never had an opportunity like the academy gave me, so I just had to go for it.

Pins and Needlez is a sewing business: I make memory bears and blankets for little ones. Each one is custom-made to order. I did a lot of research before I committed myself, to make sure there was a strong market for the products and to check out my competitors! I charge quite a bit less for my bears as I’m new to it but also because I want to sell a quality product at an affordable price. Lots of families have several kids and not a lot of spare cash; I want to make sure they can give my bears to all their kids if they want them. I like to make people happy.

I’ve been in my Creates pod almost a year now and it’s been amazing. I’ve learned a lot from the other businesses that run out of the academy, but I’ve had the chance to help out the students running their businesses too. That’s what’s the Aldridge Foundation has created here in Darwen – a place where we can all help each other.”