The owner of British jewellery brand Astrid & Miyu is launching two separate mentorship programmes to help six young black founders navigate through the start-up lifecycle and 10 black students kickstart their career in the fashion industry in support of the BLM movement.
Founder Connie Nam has pledged her full three-month salary towards raising additional funds to provide grants along with mentorship to black-owned consumer brand businesses.
Leah Remfry-Peploe and Nikki Michelsen, co-founders of organic tampon brand Ohne, have joined forces with four of the A&M team to offer a three-month Accelerator Programme covering all aspects of business and tailored to the needs of each chosen entrepreneur.
Six new business owners will be selected for mentoring and awarded a £3,000 grant each on completion of the programme. It will kick off in July with mentees joining a one-hour video session with Nam to explain their businesses, motivation, challenges and long-term goals. They will then be assigned a mentor whose expertise best fits their needs to take them through the next two months.
In August, each mentee will build a solid foundation for gap areas of the business with the help of the mentors with relevant experience. Finally, September will see them refining their planning and reporting to support growth.
As an extension of the Business Accelerator Programme, Nam and her team are also launching the Graduate Accelerator Programme, designed to give unprivileged BAME students skills and guidance to kick start their career. Ten students will be paired with some of Astrid & Miyu’s management and senior team covering areas including marketing, account management, merchandising, design and buying.
Similarly to the Business Accelerator Programme this will kick off in July with a monthly 1-2-1 hour session with their mentor and homework provided to further their skills. Students will gain feedback and guidance on their CV and cover letter, work on a research project and be provided with key resources to help them begin their career successfully.
“We have seen extreme cruelty in humanity that has prompted us to all think about fundamental issues surrounding racism and diversity,” said Korean-born Nam, explaining the idea behind the programmes. “This issue is very true to my heart. Having grown up and worked in predominantly white societies, I have experienced implicit and sometimes explicit racism, as well as sexism and stereotyping in a male dominant industry prior to founding A&M.
“I know that others have experienced much more significant racial cruelty and that we have a long way to go, but we wanted to make sure we are doing something real to make an impact to individuals in the BAME community.”
The ex-investment banker launched A&M alone from her kitchen table eight years ago and now runs a business with six retails stores, a turnover of £10m and 80 staff. #
The first store launched in 2015 with in-store piercing introduced in 2018 and tattooing last year, leading to 350% growth in physical retail. She intends to expand nationally and internationally with target locations including Brighton, Manchester, Edinburgh and New York. Meanwhile, online sales have increased 100% so far in 2020 following a focus on experiential shopping and online stylists.
Find out more about the brand’s success in our exclusive video with the founder below: