Love of Lemons, a vintage clothing business that started online during the Covid lockdown and has since grown to include two high street shops, is among 12 businesses that have been announced as Ambassadors of the Start Up Loans programme, part of the British Business Bank.
The annual Start Up Loans Ambassadors programme, now in its eighth year, celebrates exceptional business owners who have launched an enterprise using funding from the government-backed scheme.
Bex Osman, founder of Love of Lemons in Nansledan, near Newquay, has been selected as she embodies the can-do mindset it takes to make a start-up successful.
Starting with an online business during the pandemic, Osman opened her first store in Nansledan in 2021, selling hand-picked vintage items alongside sustainably produced new brands. She relocated to a brand new shop in Nansledan over the summer and has just opened a sister store, Love of Vintage, in the same complex.
“I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been scary,” she said, “but I think without that emotional drive it never would have happened. I worked for eight years in fashion retail in Cornwall before branching out on my own during lockdown by launching online, but ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted my own shop. My first Start Up Loan helped me open Love of Lemons and this year I took out a second loan to open Love of Vintage.
“It’s been a huge step for me. I’ve always been creative and had a lot of retail experience styling, buying stock and managing shops for other people, but I’ve always found the numbers side a bit daunting. The process of applying for the loan, working on business planning and projections has been a massive help.
“Above all it was knowing that the bank had faith in me that I could make this work. Having that external validation of what I was trying to do gave me a huge boost in confidence and believing in yourself when you’re just starting out is so important.”
Steve Conibear, UK network director south west for the British Business Bank, added: “Bex is a fantastic example of an entrepreneur who has followed her heart in setting up her new business while keeping her feet firmly on the ground. We’re delighted that she is one of our 12 nations and regions ambassadors and I hope that her story will help inspire other start-ups across the south west.”
Bex Osman and the other 2023/4 ambassadors will be introduced at a launch event in central London that kick-starts a year-long programme which will see the new ambassadors take part in a series of local and national activities, helping inspire and encourage aspiring start-up founders to take the leap into business ownership.