Card work pays off for contest finalist

Lynne O'Connor's firm makes greetings cards
Lynne O'Connor's firm makes greetings cards
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A GREETINGS card business that aims to provide work for people from disadvantaged backgrounds is among the finalists in the Evening News-backed Local Business Accelerators contest.

Six new businesses, including Greetings from Leith, are battling it out to win mentoring and free advertising in the Dragons’ Den-style competition, as well as a chance of advice from real-life “dragon” Deborah Meaden.

The card company was set up by mother-of-three Lynne O’Connor in December 2009 to produce handcrafted and eco-friendly greetings cards, with the aim of providing flexible and creative work for staff.

Mrs O’Connor, from Granton, decided to enter the competition after taking a break to have her third son William.

She said it would be “a dream come true” to win the competition and reach local customers via the Evening News.

The 39-year-old said: “With having to take a break from Greetings from Leith, if I was to win it would allow me to catch up on the time I have lost and would give Greetings from Leith a boost.

“I’m re-launching the business in January and I’m working with Volunteer Scotland to find volunteers to help kick-start the business. This will boost us towards having enough sales to be able to take on our first crafter.

“The long-term goal is to provide creative work for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. They would get paid per card and work from home.”

She added: “I want to give people that flexibility to earn income and do something really creative that makes you feel good about yourself.”

The nationwide Local Business Accelerators competition has attracted more than 3000 entrants and will see 1500 firms across the UK receive £15 million of free advertising.

Launched in October by regional and local newspapers, locally the competition is organised with the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

Joining Greetings from Leith on the shortlist are eteaket tea boutique in Frederick Street; Vertex eCommerce in South Queensferry; Market Prepare in Prestonpans; Gardening Services Edinburgh in Colinton; and AM Lettings, based in Dalkeith.

Last week, the finalists made their pitch to a panel of judges – entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer, former Prince’s Trust director Geraldine Gammell, former Scottish Businesswoman of the Year Liz McAreavey and Evening News editor Tom Little.

Three winners will be selected next month, with the trio receiving free advertising in the Evening News and a three-month mentoring programme.

They will also go forward to the final round for the chance to be mentored for a year by Ms Meaden, and win an advertising campaign by a top London agency.

The winners will be revealed in the News on January 11.