Gillingham based young entrepreneur snaps up a business grant

A 17 year old from Gillingham has become the youngest person to receive a start up business grant from Medway Council.

Katie Blench was awarded a £1,000 grant from the council to help get her business, Katie Blench Photography, off the ground.

The young entrepreneur, who turned 18 at the end of August, set up the business after taking to photography as a hobby and after work experience with a professional photographer, realised she’d found her perfect career.

Working from her family home in Nelson Road, Katie has her own studio with professional lighting and already boasts a portfolio of pet portraits and weddings to shoots for bands and models.

The Partners for Growth start up scheme offers budding entrepreneurs a grant of up to £1,000 that can be used to fund initial start-up costs for example rent, stock, vehicles or promotion.

The former Chatham Grammar School for Girls pupil completed a foundation degree in photography at North West Kent College in Dartford in June 2010 and determined to succeed, wasn’t fazed by the challenges of going it alone in the business world.

“Setting up the business wasn’t a difficult decision at all. I had several nine to five office jobs after leaving college and knew they just weren’t for me. I have a genuine passion for photography and love it when people enjoy themselves on my shoots.”

Katie will put the grant towards a new camera and a mobile generator to allow her to take her shoots outside of the studio and on location.

“The grant has meant I haven’t had to worry about money for a while and being the youngest person to be offered a grant was a great confidence boost in my ability and my business plan. I hope it will mean I can inspire more young people to pursue their dreams as well” she said.

In the future, Katie’s looking to invest in her own studio away from home as well as hiring an assistant for shoots and receptionist to manage bookings.

As part of the Partners for Growth scheme, Katie was also provided with courses through the council’s Business Link service.

These included bookkeeping and one to one business advice meetings. She will also receive on-going mentoring to assist the growth of her business.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development and Economic Growth, Cllr Jane Chitty, said: “Katie is a real inspiration to all young people with entrepreneurial spirit and an example of how, with ambition and hard work, you can realise your dreams and start up your own business.

“Our start up grants are about helping local people with obvious talent find their feet and get their business off the ground, as well as giving them the tools to help their business grow and create jobs and opportunities in the future. I wish Katie every success.”

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