A young woman from Newtownabbey who set up her own business after being made redundant has been honoured at The Prince’s Trust Awards.
Sarah Lavery (26) was presented with the Ulster Bank Enterprise Award at the recent Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense awards ceremony in Belfast.
Sarah dreamt of starting a business that would allow every child to be invited to a birthday party regardless of their needs or abilities.
She has family members with autism and recognised that some children need a quieter space to be available for them to enjoy a party.
When she was made redundant from her full-time job, Sarah was left with no way to support herself and mounting credit card debt.
She decided this was the time to see if her business idea could become a reality and got in touch with The Prince’s Trust about their Enterprise programme.
The programme supports people aged 16-30 to make their business idea a reality. During the three-day course Sarah developed a business plan, was matched with a mentor and was offered a loan to help her set up her business. Just weeks after finishing the programme she opened her business in Glengormley.
Sarah said: “Dudes and Divas Entertainment is a unique children’s party venue themed like an enchanted garden with princesses, superheroes, fairies and pirates. Snow machines, bubbles and candyfloss machines add to the magic while a sensory room, wheelchair access and a disabled toilet mean everyone is able to join the party.
“The programme gave me the confidence that my idea was viable. I’m now debt free, and in the past 12 months we have employed three part time members of staff and expanded into an additional building onsite.”