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Eastpak launches programme to support creative enterprise

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Eastpak has launched its Core Series programme, celebrating and rewarding entrepreneurial spirit and hoping to inspire young people to set up their own business.

The programme aims to inspire a new generation of urban entrepreneurs through its programme ambassadors. These are all successful entrepreneurs who know what it takes to thrive in a post-recession climate, and who have told their stories to Eastpak online, to inspire young people and let them know that they can achieve success. 

The UK ambassadors are: Alan and Gary Keery who run the Cereal Killer Cafés in Shoreditch and Camden; Steve Bartlett, CEO of The Social Chain; and Jaega Wise, head brewer and founder of Wild Card Brewery.

As well as celebrating existing entrepreneurs, Eastpak are also hoping to foster new talent and encourage others to take the leap and launch their own business. The company has recently launched a pan-European competition to find one outstanding new urban entrepreneur who will turn their support into something exciting.

The lucky winner, selected from entrepreneurs across Europe, will receive a full set of Eastpak’s Core Series bags, one-to-one tuition with the Core Series ambassador of their choice, and a tech bundle to help them set up their own successful enterprise venture.

TNS spoke to Jaega Wise, head brewer at Wild Card Brewery, to get her thoughts on the project and talk about the advent of her own business.

Jaega Wise - photo c.o. Eastpak 

When you set up your business, who inspired you?

It would definitely have to be other breweries. We grew from the Midlands, which is the land of the pale ale basically, and there are some really great breweries. There’s one called Castle Rock Brewery that makes really amazing pale ale, and we would look at them and think, “It would be amazing if we could be like that one day.”

What are the main challenges in setting up your own business?

The number one issue in a post-recession climate is definitely money. Anyone who wants to start their own business has to have a certain amount of capital. You can only work without pay so far, as people have obviously got rent to pay. It’s got a lot to do with the banks not lending at all. We went to them with our idea for a micro-brewery and literally got laughed out of the door. Instead we got a little bit of money together, £2,000-£3,000, and we used it to rent space off another brewery. We had to be innovative about how we approached setting up the business. We had to do it very slowly and gradually, but a consequence we are very lean, very money-conscious. We sell everything we produce, so we don’t make things like beer mats, which is unusual, but it works.

When did you realise this was going right for you?

I don’t know whether you ever stop thinking, “Is this going to happen?” Even to this day we run a very busy bar, and almost every Friday if it gets to half five and there’s not many people we worry. The pushing for things to work never really ends. However the fact that we are all employed, the fact that we have 17 members of staff now, we have the equipment and we are getting our beer out there, it does say that things are going very well for us. That said, you can never rest on your laurels, and we are always pushing for more. 

What attracted you to this project?

When I was a student I was always aware of Eastpak, it’s a bag that’s really popular and practical for students and people at work. Their involvement is definitely a bonus, plus the bags and swag the winners get as a consequence will really make a big difference. Then the idea of giving someone a helping hand especially advice for people currently going through setting up their own business – there aren’t many places you can really find that. When we started, if we could have spoken to other people doing well in new businesses, and to have someone come and mentor with us for the day, would have been invaluable.

How do you hope Wild Card can help the winner of this competition if they choose you as their mentor?

There are lots of areas that us at Wild Card can show someone, and it’s mainly to do with manufacture. If you manufacture goods and you need to get goods out into the world we can help with that in terms of logistics, production, storage – they’re the kind of skills that we are good at that we would be able to share. I think we’re also very good at stuff like branding and social media; we’re a very well-rounded company.

The competition is open now. More information can be found at eastpak.com/ambassadors




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