STORY: Two jobseekers turn a love of baking and digital marketing into successful businesses

The pandemic has changed the way we live and work for generations to come but with the country’s recovery underway we can start to embrace change and celebrate success during these challenging times.

Two people in the South West have focused their skills and passion to help them set up their own business and move from unemployed to self-employed.

Zach Hayter from Somerset was made redundant after being furloughed from his job as a delivery driver at a vehicle rental company in summer 2020.  Having worked for his employer for three years Zach knew this was the time to take the plunge and follow his dream. With a passion for website design, multimedia design and marketing, Zach knew he wanted to start up his own business but was unsure how to get started.

Zach, 29, was referred to Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) Scheme, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions in December 2020. He worked with the Self Employment advisory team, Richard Bowley and Kerry Jackson from Seetec Pluss, who deliver the scheme in Somerset.

The Seetec Pluss team helped Zach navigate all the documentation and requirements for becoming self-employed.

Zach said: “When Covid hit in late March 2020, I had been in a zero-hour day job for 3 years and it acted as my bread and butter while I started to look more into website design and marketing as a career.

“Having worked as a graphic designer years before, I knew I had some valuable skills already. I realised I needed to offer more to be an effective asset to small businesses and this had held me back from being confident enough to step up to full-time self-employment.

“When Covid came, I waited for a few months on furlough until the inevitable happened. As vehicle rentals are deemed as non-essential business, the rental store that I worked at was closed, and I was made redundant.

“At this point, I felt like I had nothing to lose.  If I was going to make self-employment happen, it would be now or never.  I threw myself into learning more and more and was able to keep myself afloat with my redundancy package for a number of months. As the money started to dwindle, I signed onto Universal Credit and told my work coach that I wanted to become self-employed.

“I was then referred to the JETS Scheme where I met Richard at Seetec Pluss, who was just excellent. I was provided with lots of informative resources that steered me in the right direction. But really the biggest part of it all was the accountability. Having that call once a week was incredibly valuable in itself just to keep me motivated.

“I have now finished my 6-month JETS Scheme and I feel very confident in knowing that I am now fully self-employed and loving it!”

Zachs support was provided under the new Government-funded JETS Scheme, designed to help people struggling to find work due to Covid-19. The programme which launched in October 2020 has already supported over 7,000 people from across the South West into employment.

Molly Crabb from Devon made her journey from unemployed to self-employed a tasty one by pursing her passion for baking and launching Greedy Cow Cakes.

Molly, 22 had always worked and found herself unemployed and referred to the JETS Scheme in November 2020.

Molly told us: “I had always been financially independent since I was 14, I never even relied on my parents for money, so when I was made redundant twice in one year and had to make a claim for Universal Credit, it was really hard for me.

“When the first lockdown hit, it seemed like the whole of the UK started baking, and I was one of them! I’d never really considered baking before, but I’ve always been quite a creative person, so I found that I was actually quite good at it.

“Whilst I was building up my baking skills, I was applying for so many jobs, but I just wasn’t getting anywhere because so many people were also looking for work at that time. So, I started to think about how I could make myself a job.

“I was referred to the JETS Scheme in November 2020 and my Employment Advisor Richard was really helpful. I told him that I wanted to start my own bakery business and he answered my questions and gave me great advice. He helped me with the marketing of my business through social media and offered suggestions to help get my name out there and get my business up and running.

“I speak with him every couple of weeks and it’s so great to have that reassurance that I’m doing the right thing. He really cheers me on and that’s so lovely to have, especially when you’re starting your own business for the first time.

“Right now, I’m working the hardest that I’ve ever worked, but I love it and it’s really rewarding. Every now and again, a customer will send me video of their child blowing out their birthday candles on one of my cakes and it just feels amazing.

“I hope one day that I can take Greedy Cow Cakes away from my home, as my kitchen is overrun with baking equipment! So, I’ll plan to look for a little unit or shop so that I can expand the business.”

 Mnister for Employment, Mims Davies MP: “Zach and Molly join almost 100,000 jobseekers across the country that are getting on the route back to work thanks to the  DWP JETS Scheme - and it’s great to see the South West benefiting, with Seetec helping local residents to launch their career and thrive in employment.

“As we continue on our recovery, we’ll be helping people build new skills, gain valuable experience and seize new opportunities through our Plan for Jobs as we level up across the country and push to build back better.”

Seetec Pluss Operations Director Tara Fisher said:  The JETS Scheme provides jobseekers with a lifeline of support to help them rebuild their confidence, self-belief and get back into sustainable work.  

Working closely with each person, our coaches offer 1:1 personalised support to help people identify transferrable skills, prepare CVs, get through the difficult days and feel confident about the talents they have to offer. Self-employment can be a fantastic life choice offering flexibility and the ability to earn doing something you are passionate about.   Due to Covid, the jobs market is challenging at the moment, but the opportunities are still out there. So far, 40% of people that started the programme in October have now found employment.”

Seetec Pluss is the prime contractor for the Work and Health Programme JETS in Cornwall, Devon, Avon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Sussex. 

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