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Helping people and the planet as an entrepreneur

Lorraine Wolter is an MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship graduate and the Founder of sustainable clothing start-up, Light and Air. Here she talks about her experiences of studying in Manchester and the opportunities available to her as a budding entrepreneur.

“In one of my units – High-Tech Entrepreneurship – I learned how to systematically create value by developing a value proposition to solve an important problem for target customers, and to turn this value proposition into a successful business. However, I still had to identify a problem so important that it would keep me highly passionate over many years. I realised that this problem had to be the pollution of our planet, the exhaustion of our resources, and the climate crisis. I also wanted to address the feeling that people are left behind and helpless to act.

"With my ‘beloved problem’ in mind, I decided to meet other entrepreneurs and founders to learn from their experiences and to convince myself that it would be possible to start my own business. I was amazed by the many entrepreneurial events and opportunities at The University of Manchester.

"I joined Manchester Entrepreneurs and went to every one of their events. This university society offered astounding talks and panels by varied entrepreneurs – from student founders to CEOs of big companies. I also attended numerous events at the School’s Masood Entrepreneurship Centre, including ‘She’s the Business’. As the name suggests, this activity supports women in business.

"In my second semester, I took the unit, Enterprising Individuals. We met Tony Enfield, Managing Director of Rayware – a global housewares supplier founded in nearby Liverpool. Tony underlined that nobody would thank you at the end of each day for working hard when you start to run your own business. Yet, it is worth it, he said. The hard work will pay off and he would not want it any other way.

"I began from scratch. With no previous coding or design skills, I built an online store and created 29 different clothing designs that represented my inner wish for a better world. I learned that everything usually takes twice the time expected.

"After six months, numerous YouTube tutorials and lessons learned, a Kickstarter Award and many ups and downs, I finally launched Light and Air. This is a sustainable clothing brand offering certified organic garments and clothing made from recycled plastic. Light and Air is going to be so much more than the garments themselves. I want to empower people in living a conscious, eco-friendly, and happy life.

"Being a student at The University of Manchester comes with many opportunities, resources, and support for those who wish to become entrepreneurs. I learned how to find a successful business idea and how to put that idea into reality."

This is an excerpt from a blog post on the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR) website >>