Setting up Grow in Nature has allowed Carolyn Cameron and Lesley McPherson to establish a company that provides enriched outdoor and play experiences for children with social, emotional and behavioural needs in the Highlands. To help them finance their work, the duo offer corporate team building experiences and workshops on emotional literacy, positive psychology, and the benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility.
What did you do before setting up your business? Carolyn started and ran a children’s nursery in Dores and an after-school club at Kirkhill Primary School alongside a childminding business. Lesley spent 22 years as a teacher, including holding acting head positions in two local primary schools and the Black Isle Education Centre. She also has a degree in Developmental Psychology – and is currently working towards an MSc in Positive Psychology - and was a Development Officer for Enterprise in Education and Determined to Succeed for Highland Council/Careers Scotland.
Why choose to go into business for yourself and when did you start your current business? We have been talking about this for years, probably since we both completed our Forest School training. Carolyn had been working with children on a 1:1 basis in several schools last year while also working to develop an outdoor learning project and a project to enrich the learning environment of a nursery. I had just retired from teaching and had been looking to work with businesses running workshops and CSR projects, so we decided to combine our interests to launch Grow in Nature. We now have premises at the James Cameron Community Centre in Dalneigh and plan to open soon. The premises will provide youngsters with space to grow and learn through fun, mostly outdoor, activities in a one-to-one or small group setting. Children will build on their strengths, use their imaginations, and improve communication while developing new skills, confidence and self-esteem. They won’t notice they’re learning new skills as they will be too busy having fun!
Why did you choose your current business? We have lots of experience between us, enjoy what we do, and want to make sure we can do all our favourite things to make a living while also creating enriching experiences and life skills with others.
Who has helped you get started and develop your business? Friends and family have been a great support as we’ve been going on about this for years! We also have to thank Business Gateway Highland for its help and advice. We worked with an adviser 1:1 who gave us start-up guidance, advice on business finance options and highlighted what support was available for social enterprises. Although we aren’t a social enterprise as yet that is our ultimate aim. We also received advice and funding from The Impact Hub, and would like to thank the Dulux Decorator Centre for donating paint to our Croy Primary School Project and JC joinery for its help on several different projects.
What achievement are you most proud of? Anytime we see a child or adult grow their own abilities in some way, developing confidence and self-esteem, makes us proud of them and confirms we are doing something right.
What was your biggest mistake? Taking so long to find our own venue.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business? Getting more businesses involved, but we are looking forward to getting some new projects going soon.
What would help your business? Local businesses to get in touch to discuss their needs. Initial consultations are free! All our projects are tailored to suit each business's needs and budget.
What do you still want to achieve for your business? A regular flow of CSR projects which will create many win-win situations and fund more places for children. Host regular corporate training events with a difference, develop personal growth, better working environments and in turn help, local businesses flourish.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business in Inverness? Be clear about your goals, start small, keep costs down, hold your nerve, and keep smiling! Business Gateway Highland is also a great source of free information and support.
Find out how Business Gateway Highland can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01463 898 466.
Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.
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