People helped get me here.
I’ve gone from a 16-year-old waitress to the 30-year-old business owner and brand communications manager of an incredible crowdfunding platform – and I couldn’t have done it without the amazing people from my LinkedIn network.
I grew up in Cornwall, in the south of England. From an early age, I knew this was where I belonged. Despite calling my home a small seaside town in Cornwall, I developed a burning ambition to prove that no matter your location, you can still make a big impact, wherever you are.
It’s been a tough journey, but I’m thankful to the people around me who made it possible. First was my Dad.
School wasn’t easy: I don’t think I was the coolest kid. I just wanted to get out there and work. I remember my Dad saying, “Do what you love. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.” It was scary leaving formal schooling at 16, but having my dad’s backing to follow my dreams meant the world. I felt I could achieve the impossible.
When I left school, I applied to work as a waitress at the Eden Project. I got the job and, for the first time ever, immediately felt at home. I loved it. Over the next few years, I worked my way up and into the PR and Communications team. It was my first desk job, which came with my first desk. I was so proud I actually polished it every night!
But the best thing about Eden was that it was bursting with inspiring people, and I began to realize that maybe I could start achieving great things myself.
My ambition to do something more, to own something, grew. When I became pregnant, I had a now-or-never moment. My partner Ben and I decided to buy two camper vans, renovate them, and rent them out – and so The Cornwall Camper Company was born. Granted, they promptly fell apart like the rust buckets they were. The bank wouldn’t help us, and instead they suggested we just go bankrupt. It wasn’t a good start!
Thankfully, I knew a lot of people who wanted to help. I started using LinkedIn to connect with all the amazing people I had met since my days at Eden. It seemed like a good time to reach out. When I look at the breadth of my connections, they’ve got years and years of experience behind them. They gave me the knowledge I needed to set up and run a successful, sustainable business – from accounting to replacing engine parts.
Eventually, we got our first two campers up and running. Then the business just grew and now we have four campers on the road with another four to renovate, and even more on the way.
It’s the people in my network that have helped me get to where I am today and now I want to use that experience to help others achieve their own dreams. I was offered a role as the Brand Communications Manager at Crowdfunder, an online fundraising platform that helps people fund their own ideas.
At Crowdfunder, we’ve raised over £2.5 million for businesses, charities, social enterprises and communities since launching in 2012. It’s brilliant to work for a company that gives me a real opportunity to help others get the funding I struggled to find when I opened The Cornwall Camper Company.
My advice? It’s to get out there, meet people, and build relationships. Make lasting impressions and connections that will lead to future opportunities. That’s where LinkedIn can help.
– Jess Ratty @_Jessification