The Kickstart Scheme was announced by the government in 2020 to address the employment needs of 16–24-year-olds due to the pandemic. Rolled out early in 2021, the £2 billion scheme was designed to fund hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
Transform Lives Company stepped in to become a Kickstart gateway for employers across the Liverpool City Region and beyond, allowing business to easily get involved in the scheme and fill their vacancies. This was an obvious choice for us: for years, we’ve been helping people across the city region to find their way back into work
This was the opportunity to work with tons of brilliant employers who were willing to create opportunities for young people across a wide variety of sectors. We were able to create 220 jobs for young people who were previously on Universal Credit, of which 60% have either been kept on or found further employment, thanks to the superb employers in our Kickstart Gateway.
One business who attended one of our early information sessions, Lucy Maggie Designs – a super imaginative giftware company who created the quirkiest greeting cards - were interested immediately at creating vacancies. TLC knew right away that this was the kind of company we were looking to work with: a local creative company with heart.
We caught up with shortlisted Businessperson of the Year 2022 candidate Lucy Nicholson, founder of Lucy Maggie Designs, to chat about her experience of Kickstart.
Q. Who are Lucy Maggie and what do you do?
Lucy Maggie Designs is an independent giftware and stationery business specialising primarily in the design and distribution of greeting cards. We also have a secondary brand - Sunshine Llama. that works with illustrators from around the world on small collections of card designs and other stationery products. We've worked with several illustrators in the local area, including our Kickstart employees.
Q. How did you hear about Kickstart? What was it about kickstart that made it fit into your company at the time?
We're a growing small business, so the scheme really appealed to us as we were able to get help to expand the company at a time when we wouldn't have otherwise had the capital to invest in extra staff.
Q. How did you find the process of applying for Kickstart, from applying to job start? How did the team at TLC help?
The application was seamless and the Zoom meeting sessions with Tracy were really useful and helped explain how it all worked in a digestible format. The process was really easy, which meant that we ended up applying for more Kickstart positions to get more young people involved in the company just a few months after we took on our first two hires. Having fresh minds with innovative ideas join the team has been invaluable and brought us a new perspective on how we do business.
Q. Who were you able to hire from Kickstart and what have they achieved and learned since being at Lucy Maggie?
We first had Olivia Sullivan, who joined as an Illustrator and Beth Agar who was employed as a Design & Marketing Assistant, though there were some elements of crossover between the two roles, which meant that both girls got involved with designing new products for the company. In fact, Liv's designs were picked up by a major supermarket retailer as part of our Sunshine Llama brand and will be seen in stores nationally by Christmas 2022. Both girls really impressed us, from their enthusiasm and willingness to get involved in all areas of the business and help out where needed, through to their meticulous attention to detail and pride in making sure that every task given to them was done to the highest standard. Following Beth and Liv, we welcomed Ellie Purdy as an illustrator, a tattoo apprentice with amazing drawing abilities. In the six months she was with us, she produced some really high-quality work which has since made its way into shops across the UK, including Scribbler.
We're now employing Carol Hattersley and Ella Goddard as Design Marketing Assistants. Carol has only been with us for a few months but is already producing some fresh, young designs for notebooks and gift wrap, as well as helping with many of company's administrative tasks. Ella's just completed a range of brilliant cards for us which were launched in May, and has been leading the way with our social media marketing plan. Our Instagram feed has gone from strength to strength, and it’s been down to Ella's organisational skills and keen eye for executing eye-catching compositions with her photography that we owe its success.
Q. What else would you like to see, in form of similar employment opportunities for young people? Would you consider older people?
Schemes such as the Kickstart scheme have made us truly realise the value of investing in people. We've been reluctant to bring in new staff in the past due to funding blockers whilst we've been trying to expand the company, but actually what we've come to realise through our Kickstarters is that investing in people is one of the best ways to grow. All the fresh ideas, talent and support they've provided has meant we've managed to achieve things we wouldn't have thought possible a few years ago.
Q. Would you consider collaborating with TLC or other Kickstart employers by offering volunteer style placements to people who need it?
Yes, we would be very keen!
See more of Lucy Maggie Designs here -