Jamie Lea Doody and the Little Handmade Company

Jamie’s big idea

With Christmas just around the corner, Jamie created handmade photo frames and hand carved letters, as homemade Christmas gifts, so customers could decorate bedroom doors and beds with the names of loved ones.

She took her craft goods to Christmas fairs and marketed them on a Facebook page, making a small profit by the end of the festive season.

Challenges

Jamie started the course with an entirely different business in mind. But the course taught her the importance of being practical and flexible in business. So,she changed tack and combined her love for craft with the Christmas season –successfully selling dozens of products and earning a profit. Jamie also completed the course while working full-time.

How did the military tycoon programme help?

  • Jamie benefitted from the reassurance that she would be able to create her own business – something mobile which she could take with her when the family is re-posted by the military.
  • Jamie had found the move into civilian life daunting, but remembered her family had run a business when she was a child – the course reassured her that she has business in her blood.
  • In particular, Jamie found the help with money management important – keeping track of sales, profit and costs.
  • Learning to be practical and flexible in order to succeed in business were also key lessons.
  • Jamie was reminded that everyone will return to civilian life at some point – she just did it a bit sooner.

In her own words

I joined the army aged 21 and I was in the army for six years, it was all I knew.

My husband is also in the army and when I had a baby girl, I decided I had to leave. In the army, getting a promotion means going away. My husband and I missed our baby’s first steps, we were missing a lot, and she was being passed to family and friends.

I found leaving the army overwhelming, my entire sense of self changed. One of the first shocks was finding that my skills as an HR administrator didn’t translate into the civilian world. This was quite scary to realise. There were other simple things like – every day I knew what I was going to wear in the army. Every day I knew exactly what was expected of me.

With my husband being re-posted, it was difficult to stay in new jobs. So, when I saw the Military Tycoon programme advertised, I knew it was for me. My family had a business I was a young, so I realised, it was something I could be good at. I signed up and joined the very first pilot course.Setting up own business would mean I could take it with me while I follow my husband’s posting. We’d be able to stay together as a family.

My first idea was Mummy Fitness – fitness classes for parents to bring their children to. These would be great for the children as well as the parents. But then I realised on the course that it would be impossible to do in 12-weeks, particularly given that I didn’t already have the qualification needed.

So, I went back to the drawing board and realised two things. One: I really like craft and woodwork. And two: Christmas was coming up. So, I pursued the Little handmade Company as a business plan.

I could take my goods to Christmas markets and I had a Facebook page. I created products with a military theme as well as a Christmas theme.

The best part about the course was learning about money management, in particular keeping track of sales, profit and costs.

I hadn’t wanted to change my plan but that’s business, and it was great to be taught to be practical and realistic. In the army things are set, but in civilian business, things can change. It was the first time I’d been encouraged to turn my mind to my own, individual idea, but doing this within a good structured environment was incredibly helpful.

I still get monthly emails – asking if I’d like some help – and I find that really reassuring. I also enjoyed being with people from different military backgrounds, all of whom had very different stories, but we had this in common.

We’re all going to be civilians one day I’ve just done it earlier is all. I still miss the military lifestyle, civilian life is bittersweet. But it’s good to know that there are so many business opportunities available to me and to be reassured that I’m not crazy, I will get my business off the ground.