February 10, 2016, by The Ingenuity Lab
Always model behaviour at the Ingenuity Lab
The Ingenuity Lab have approximately 1,500 members and see around 30 businesses daily, supporting their business needs; introducing them to mentors and ensuring there is enough coffee in the communal space!
Each business is at a different stage in developing their business idea, with some still ‘defining’ the problem (or business need) and recognising their opportunities. Other members are confident about their business needs but still need to explore possibilities and ‘discover their potential. Some members are well on their way to ‘determining’ a solution for their business and the future, working with industry professionals to get their business off the ground.
In the Ingenuity Lab, no day is the same and every member has a different story and requirements. As a group, we support each other, collaborate and ensure we have as much fun along the day; creating a melting pot of ideas! Each month, we will introduce one of our exemplary members and their business to you!
Introducing………… Anna Gray
Company name: Model Students
Company Website: www.modelstudents.co.uk
What did you study at the University of Nottingham? Management Studies
What made you want to be an entrepreneur?
I never wanted to do anything else. I remember being about eight and hearing about Anita Roddick and The Body Shop and thinking it was the most wonderful thing to be a successful business woman and doing something so positive and I decided that is what I was going to do. So, I followed the path of doing business and economics at school, sixth form and then university. I got a little side tracked at uni when I got signed with Bond modelling agency as I loved it so much! I had some great experiences but I also had some quite negative ones and at that point I decided my business would be Model Students.
What is your business concept?
Model Students functions like any other professional model agency, the difference being that we only represent university and college students and in turn we provide models for local businesses, start-ups and fashion students – all at much more affordable rates than the big agencies. Our agency has a strong ethos centred around providing our models with fun and exciting opportunities to earn money, we also pride ourselves on our models being ‘more than just pretty faces’ and are very clear that we want our models to have a healthy attitude towards body image and looking good through a healthy lifestyle.
What stage are you currently at in setting up your company/business?
The idea for the agency came about i
n my final year of study so in 2010, however it didn’t really get going until a year or so after that. We have been trading for four years now. We represent over 150 models at colleges and universities across the UK. There is myself and one other full time employee Jose Pope who is a Nottingham university graduate who heads up our London branch (he is a recent addition) and my Mum, Pauline who has taken on a part time admin role.
What challenges have you faced during the process?
The main challenge has really been getting our
name out there and building up a client base who trust us and come back for repeat business. In the fashion industry which is very superficial it has been difficult to be different and be a brand who cares about more than just looks so it has taken time for people in our industry to take us seriously. This is an ongoing challenge and we have by no means overcome it.
How has being a Ingenuity Lab member helped you?
There are so many benefits to being at the lab, as a new business having somewhere to go and speak to someone if you have encountered a problem or even just to run an idea by someone is invaluable, it gives you that extra bit of confidence. Also the address at the university gives a lot of people faith in you company being a reputable, legitimate company. Being able to book rooms for meetings and events there also has been great for us.
Being able to see professionals like accountants, lawyers and advisors has helped us to deal with so many situations at times when we have been unsure how to proceed with something.
There are also a lot of opportunities, for example we have a social media intern starting next week that is being funded by the lab and the careers service, we think this will be great for our business and hopefully a great work experience for our intern.
What are you goals for this year?
Regarding the internal business with having Jose running Model Students from London, we hope that is will at least double our turnover from last year. We are currently recruiting more models in the London area so we will hopefully have over 200 models by the end of the year.
We are continuing to build up our client base in other areas and work on our relationships with our current clients. As we are becoming more established as an agency our confidence is growing and we hope that this comes through in our brand and the service we provide. It would be great if in a years’ time, we were in a position to take on another member of staff.
As for our brand we hope to have a bigger presence on social media and that we will create/find some positive media opportunities to get the message out there that our models are ‘more than just pretty faces’ and that we are an ethical model agency who cares about our models and the opportunities we give them. We are a well known agency in Nottingham, we would love to be known as one of the go to UK model agencies.
If you are a lab member and would like us to introduce you and your business, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.