Decorators launch their own business

A couple from Manchester quit their office jobs to set up their own company with help and advice from ForViva group member City West Housing Trust.

Francesca Lock and Louise Berriman, both 35, left their jobs in human resources and sales for food processing and packaging company Tetra Pak to set up their venture in Berkshire in 2008.

The pair decided to move north to Manchester in 2012 with ambitions to grow the company, but found it difficult to re-build their business in a new area and attract the large contracts they wanted.

That was until the couple teamed up with City West’s Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat programme, which was set up to support people looking to start-up and grow their own businesses.

Fran said: “Working with City West it has been the ticket to success for us.

“We decided to go it alone after we decorated our house and realised we had a real talent for the job. While we know a great deal about painting and decorating, we didn't instinctively know how to grow our business – especially as we set up during the economic downturn.

“But when we sat down with the team, we found that by being two women going it alone, we had our own unique selling point. Since then the business has grown and grown.”

“But when we sat down with the team, we found that by being two women going it alone, we had our own unique selling point. Since then the business has grown and grown.”

Over six months the team helped Fran and Lou to create a business action plan, and found new ways for the company to diversify its offerings – such as selling re-cycled and re-decorated furniture as a side business.

City West also introduced the pair to construction contractors Queensbridge, which was so impressed by their work that it took them on to decorate 50 City West properties – their biggest contract to date.

Find out more City West's Don't Keep It Under Your Hat programme by watching this short video.