Anastasia Karampela – Telchines Fashion Ltd
Greek mum of four Anastasia Karampela’s enterprise journey has transformed her from being a medical scientist to heading up her own online sustainable fashion label.
While living in Greece, Anastasia was forced to leave her job researching improved cancer treatments when the government was no longer able to fund the work as a result of the financial crisis that engulfed the country. She then took a management job with Ikea, and due to the lack of career progression opportunities at the time in Greece, she was transferred to North East England to work at their MetroCentre store.
Anastasia arrived in the North East with just 1,000 Euro in her purse and with her four children to support. This may seem like a big risk to most people, but Anastasia knew that the UK provided a much better opportunity for her to create a better economic future for her family than remaining in her home country, which was undergoing severe economic and social hardships after being propped up by an EU bailout.
Having begun to establish new roots in Newcastle, Anastasia decided to turn her passion for knitting into a fashion business after finding herself out of work. The inspiration for her business idea came after her daughter couldn’t find the unique, pure wool scarf she was looking to buy. Anastasia saw this as an opportunity to use her passion for knitting and crocheting, which have a strong tradition in Greece, to create her own range of luxury handmade scarfs and knitwear, using fine local yarns that are 100% natural, and naturally dyed.
Anastasia turned to PNE Enterprise for help in turning her fashion idea into a viable business. Supported by her Business Adviser, Lee Longstaff, she successfully embarked on the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) and ERDF programmes. She benefitted from one-to-one business advice as well as PNE’s two-day intensive start-up business course which covered the essentials of marketing and finance.
Commenting on the impact that NEA had on her fledgling business, Anastasia said, “The financial support through NEA was important in the early stages of my business. It enabled me to develop my website and purchase the cloud space I needed to run my business. It allowed me to start a digital marketing campaign, and also to purchase yarn.
“NEA provided a vital source of funding to get my business off the ground when I needed it the most.”
Anastasia is also very grateful for the support she received under the ERDF programme, saying, “The one-to-one advice and the workshops were extremely useful, especially in giving me a good understanding of the tax legislation and financial requirements. It was also great to be able to share advice and information with the other entrepreneurs attending the workshop, and to support each other in starting our businesses.”
Working with her PNE Business Adviser, Anastasia also secured a Start Up Loan which has enabled her to buy essential equipment to run her online business, including a MacBook Pro laptop, digital camera and sewing machine. Anastasia enthused, “The Start Up Loan has enabled me to buy the tools I need to make my business fly!”
With support from PNE, Anastasia launched her business, Telchines Fashion Ltd, in April 2019. Focusing on its own range of handmade luxury scarfs and knitwear, the business also provides a platform for other premium up and coming sustainable UK fashion brands to sell their wares.
Driven by social aims, it is Anastasia’s ambition that her business will be able to contribute to society by providing employment for disadvantaged women.
Future plans also include developing a range of children and men’s clothing, and developing a knitting café to strengthen the knitting community in the region.
Anastasia is passionate that her business has sustainability throughout its DNA. From using sustainable wool and natural dyes to ensuring her suppliers and fashion partners share her ethical sourcing and sustainable values, Anastasia is determined to ensure that her business enables her growing clientele to reduce their fashion carbon footprint.
“The support I’ve received from PNE to turn my idea into a viable business has been incredible. I never believed that they would support me every step of the way from producing a business plan to creating my cash flow forecast and enabling me to understand the government requirements of starting a business – which are much different to those in Greece.
“Without the support from the PNE Enterprise team, Telchines Fashion Ltd would still be an abstract concept and not the online business that has already attracted over 3,000 visits in its first few months of trading.
“It’s also amazing that PNE continues to support me with one-to-one advice as my business develops. PNE is a combination of the business expert who is also your best friend!
“I thank PNE for sharing in my passion and vision, and for helping me transform an idea into a viable business.”