Award-winning young jeweller Lora Leedham has become the latest entrepreneur to become a mentor through a business partner scheme.
The 24-year-old, who won Young Woman Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2010 Women on Their Way Awards, will pass on her knowledge to other young people through the MET Academy of Business and Enterprise at Birmingham Metropolitan College.
The scheme aims to give 16 to 19-year-olds an insight into the world of work and Ms Leedham will contribute by giving the benefits of her experience.
With the help of the Prince’s Trust, she has built up a company which has a base in the Jewellery Quarter and an outlet in Stratford-Upon-Avon creating ethical, handcrafted jewellery
Ms Leedham said: “There are so many opportunities out there and young people need to know what options are available to them. Getting help to steer them in the right direction is crucial.
“It’s tough getting started at the beginning.
“The banks would not take me seriously because I was only 19. But thanks to a loan from the Prince’s Trust, I set up my firm and now business is doing really well and I have been asked to design jewellery for a High Street brand.”
Ms Leedham, who begins as a mentor in June, got her big break in business when she was commissioned to create a necklace for the Duchess of Cornwall, who then wore it on national television.
Since then, her jewellery has been featured in fashion magazines, worn by celebrities and used on the UK’s catwalks.
She now makes between three and 20 pieces of jewellery a week, with the help of a team of freelancers, with prices up to thousands of pounds.
Ms Leedham continued: “I was lucky in the sense that I knew what I wanted to do. So by being a business mentor I hope to be able to help the students find their feet.”
Dr Christine Braddock CBE, principal and chief executive of The Metropolitan College, said business mentoring plays an integral role in the learning experience and practical knowledge and skills the students can gain.
She said: “Business partners can make a real difference to the success achieved by students of the MET Academy and it is innovations such as this which raises the achievements of all.
“Greater collaboration between the boardroom and the classroom is clearly the way forward. Lora is a hugely inspirational figure to have on board and we are extremely excited by her support.
“Hopefully Lora will in turn benefit from the ideas and enthusiasm her student will bring.”
* Anyone interested in being a business mentor for the MET Academy can contact Tony Dennant at email@example.com.