This month in-Cumbria is profiling some of the county’s young entrepreneurs and top employees. Izzy Gray, 21, is the founder of Lakes Embroidery at Clawthorpe Hall Business Centre 

Tell us about your business/job… 

I operate an embroidery business where we provide uniforms to various businesses, including both the garments and the embroidery and printing services. 

When did you start in the role/set up the business? 

I purchased my first embroidery machine in December 2021 and Lakes Embroidery properly started in January 2022 in the shed in my garden.  

How does being a young person impact on your work?

Being a young person has both advantages and disadvantages in my work. On the positive side, many individuals are eager to lend a hand, supporting my business and personal success. I've experienced people going above and beyond to help me succeed. However, the downside is that some individuals may not take me seriously due to my age and perceived lack of experience. I've encountered situations where people would approach my mum first during shows, assuming she's in charge. Additionally, there's pressure from others, which can be challenging to handle at times. It feels like I must constantly show my business thriving and being busy for others to perceive it seriously, but I've learned that every business has its ups and downs, and that's completely normal. 

Where/how have you learnt your skills?

I feel that I haven’t acquired all the necessary skills to run a business, given the vast number of skills required. However, my learning has primarily come from interacting with people and observing how they handle things. By adapting these insights to my own business, I strive to improve and develop the essential skills needed for running a successful business. 

What motivates you in your working life? 

The people around me are my biggest motivation. I think everyone I surround myself with works so hard for what they want that it just naturally makes me want to do the best I can. While it's challenging to stay motivated all the time, especially when things go wrong, having supportive individuals to talk to and remind me that mistakes are part of the learning process makes it easier to carry on and stay driven. 

What are your ambitions - both in work and life? 

One of my ambitions in work is to create a happy, successful work environment for people to grow and learn in. I would also really love one day to help people set up their own businesses and share what I learnt and the mistakes I made because not all young people have the confidence to take such steps.

Who do you admire in the business world? 

I admire anyone who has started their own business as I know firsthand the challenges and difficulties that come with it. 

Do you have a role model? 

One of my role models is my dad, Chris Gray. He started as a delivery driver and worked his way up the company to now become a director of three successful businesses, Lakes Speciality Foods, The Cheese Larder and Ulverston Meat Company. His journey has inspired me to pursue my own entrepreneurial path and taught me the value of hard work in achieving my goals. 

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years’ time? 

I hope to see Lakes Embroidery thriving, supplying businesses across the country with an exceptional team managing its operations. Additionally, I aspire to start a venture aimed at assisting young entrepreneurs, like myself, in establishing their own businesses, guiding them towards available resources and funding, when I have gained more experience myself! 

What would your advice be to other young people setting out on their career? 

My advice would be to pursue what you truly want, even if it seems challenging. Taking risks is essential for personal and professional growth. Additionally, try to connect with as many people as possible, such as through networking groups, as you never know the opportunities it might bring and the valuable lessons you will gain along the way.