Helen goes wild to celebrate the very best of Yorkshire produce

A Doncaster-based entrepreneur is hoping to drive people wild with her passion for all things Yorkshire after calling for help from the Launchpad programme to create her white rose-themed gift shop.

Keen historian Helen Slade fulfilled a lifelong ambition of running her own business when she launched Peppers of Yorkshire earlier this year. Inside, Helen has carefully curated a unique collection of Yorkshire themed memorabilia and also items that are sourced from across the Yorkshire region. Helen is very keen on supporting local businesses, including the small cottage industries by being an outlet for individuals working in the creative industries.

Having spent time working at both Doncaster Airport and the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Helen felt there was a niche market for a shop that celebrated the very best of all things associated with Yorkshire. When she learned of the Wildlife Park’s plans to launch a dedicated retail offering in the form of The Hive, based near the entrance of the popular tourist destination, Helen decided it was a now or never moment and started to put her plans into action.

After making enquiries about one of the new units, Helen signed up to the Launchpad programme, a unique initiative that helps new entrepreneurs and small business owners across the Sheffield City Region to unlock the potential in their ideas.

To help her understand what would be involved in running her business, Helen initially signed up for an intensive three-day workshop, delivered by Doncaster Chamber. The course helped Helen to understand her responsibilities as a new business owner as well as helping her to secure her first business bank account – something that she struggled to obtain initially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With plans to initially launch her business back in September 2020, Helen was forced to place her grand opening on hold; however, she spent the time carefully developing and refining her business plans, as well as continuing to work closely with her Launchpad business adviser Craig Atkin.

It’s now been just over six months since Helen’s business, named after her family dog Pepper, opened its doors, and she has already developed a loyal customer base and received rave reviews for her unusual collection of Yorkshire-themed goods, which includes many items only available in the store.

Her business has proved to be something of a family affair too, with her eldest daughter helping out with managing the shop’s social media channels, whilst her younger daughter – a keen photographer and artist – is one of a number of Yorkshire-based creatives who stock their one-off artworks in Helen’s shop. 

Having successfully navigated her way through a challenging start to her business journey, Helen is determined not to rest on her laurels. She is hoping to expand her workforce in the near future and is always on the look out to add new Yorkshire-themed product ranges to her growing collection.

Helen Slade, founder of Peppers of Yorkshire, said: “During my time working at Doncaster Airport, I was amazed by how people would visit the shop and buy London buses, or items associated with the capital. I felt that not only Yorkshire, but Doncaster’s rich cultural heritage should be recognised. I’ve always been passionate about local history, and I wanted to create a business that would give people a chance to learn more about their local area, as well as celebrating the best the region has to offer.

“I had always liked the idea of being my own boss, but I knew it would take much more than an idea to run a successful business. Through my previous work with the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, I thought it would offer a terrific location for my business – I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve, I just didn’t know what I needed to do to make my idea a reality.

“The help and support I’ve received from Launchpad has been amazing; nothing has been too much trouble. The workshops I’ve taken part in have helped to provide focus for my business idea, whilst the one-to-one sessions with Craig have been invaluable. For example, when I decided to take the plunge, I knew it was important to have a business bank account, but initially I struggled to get one because of the impact of Covid-19. Craig helped me to understand my different options, and I’ve never looked back. I’m now looking forward to continuing working with the Launchpad team as my business develops and grows.”

Craig Atkin, Business Advisor, Sheffield City Region Launchpad Programme, said: “Peppers of Yorkshire is a business that is built on Helen’s passion for history and celebrating the very best of what Yorkshire has to offer to the world. It was clear from our early meetings that it was an idea that had been bubbling away inside her for many years, but she didn’t feel that she had the confidence or knowledge to launch the business.

“Having been forced to put her plans on hold as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Helen was able to adapt her business plans, and the success she is enjoying is a testament to her true Yorkshire grit and determination to succeed. It’s been terrific to see how Helen’s business has evolved, and although it’s still relatively early days for the company, I think it’s terrific that she is also providing a platform to help others working in the creative sector to succeed too.”

You can also watch a video about Helen and her business here.


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