Student entrepreneur’s advice on succeeding in business

You could be forgiven for thinking a 21 year old entrepreneur with an international business who has pitched to Sir Richard Branson might be a tad arrogant. But Jacob Hill, founder of The Lazy Camper, is not the bent-on-world-domination dragon, permanently attached to his iPhone, one might picture. The young businessman aims to go global with his camping kit in a bag and has partnerships with many of the major festivals. Yet despite this he has an easy smile, friendly demeanour and, when asked about meeting Sir Richard, confides that the food at his house was “amazing”.

Virgin Media Pioneer’s ambassador for Yorkshire and the Humber is open about his own experiences. In his workshop for the Youth Festival of Business he regales students from Leeds City College with an anecdote about the time he turned his front room into a sweatshop. A supplier had made a mistake with his order and so he enlisted family, friends and neighbours to help him alter the tents in time for shipping.

He gives targeted advice to the students on how to spot a good idea, get the funding, make the samples and manufacture the goods. Jacob thinks events like the Youth Festival of Business, part of Leeds Business Week, are important because “people need to see that that it is easy to get into business. All you’ve got to do is just get the ball rolling and start moving forwards.”

Jacob began his career selling sweets at age 14. It culminated in him hiring staff, selling to other schools and making over £1000 a week. In 2011, after the cheap camping equipment he bought for Leeds Festival couldn’t handle the event’s routine downpour, the idea for the Lazy Camper was born. However it wasn’t easy being a young entrepreneur.

“Definitely being taken seriously is a big challenge,” says Jacob. “I know when I started my business people were like, ‘Oh it’s just a young person doing it for a laugh, just wanting to take the mick or get something free in life.’” Getting involved with Virgin Media Pioneers and building a reputation around the company helped him to be seen as a businessman worth working with.

As well as a strong reputation Jacob says the first thing young entrepreneurs need is knowledge. “You don’t need to be Einstein but you could do with a bit of basic business background, simple maths, a bit of wit about you, things like that, ready to make hard decisions and be a decision-maker.”

He is also a firm believer that it is necessary for people to make mistakes. One of his favourite sayings is: “‘Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.’ You’ve got to learn to make mistakes so you will fall and because you fall you build yourself up and that’s how you become a better person.”

Finally, says Jacob, you need determination as there are a lot of obstacles in business. “People will tell you that it’s a crap idea, you’ll lose money, you’ll sit there thinking ‘How am I going to pay next month’s bills?’ If you keep pushing through I’m sure there’s a way through it, another way to do things.” It is this determination that led to him becoming a member of the Virgin Media Pioneers which he believes has helped him a lot.

The Pioneers improved Jacob’s confidence. “There’s a video of me doing the coin trick…for the Virgin Media talent adverts. I was so nervous, so shaky and I didn’t know what to do. Then there was the video of me pitching to Sir Richard Branson, they sent me a pitching mentor and I was just fine with it. I was there standing in front of my idol and I was just like, it’s fine, I’m ready to pitch to you. Because of what the Pioneers gave me, I’d built my confidence and I can now talk in front of crowds of people.”

When it came to meeting his hero, Jacob said Sir Richard put him instantly at ease. “He’s so chilled out, he just seems to be a normal person, he’s not arrogant in any way. He seems very down to earth.” Being unpretentious and socially-responsible in his business is important to Jacob. The Lazy Camper’s website says: “We love our planet and deep down, we know everyone else does as well. So we want to help it where we can for future generations to enjoy.” The company offers discounts to those who return their kits, donates those that can still be used to homeless charities and recycles the rest.

There are few people better qualified to help young people in business than Jacob. As a student entrepreneur with a successful growing company and a wealth of good advice he’s well-placed to help those attending the Youth Festival of Business. With The Lazy Camper looking to go global the man who’s “Trying to change the world one tent at a time” may very well succeed.


Best Bikinis for Summer 2013


, , , , , , , , ,

Whilst I write this the house across the road from me are having a barbecue. They’re wearing shorts, sandals and sunglasses, and although I have definite opinions on people wearing shades when the sky could best be described as ‘overcast’, I have to concede that spring is definitely here and, hopefully, summer isn’t too far behind.

With students still writing essays, (drinking in the pub and putting it off until the last minute), studying (drinking in the pub and putting it off until the last minute) and revising for exams (drinking in the pub…etc), there’s no better time than to start shopping for the sunshine. I’ve gathered up the best bikinis for you to show off your body on the beach. (For those of you wondering where the tasselled type are, I don’t think there’s anything flattering about making your boobs look like a cross between a stripper and an octopus).
1. Miss Selfridge: £26
2. Topshop: £28
3. Topshop: £26
4. Topshop: £32
5. ASOS: Bikini top £16. Bottoms £12
6. River Island: £30
7. Ultimo: £40
8. ASOS: Bikini top £16. Bottoms £14
9. Urban Outfitters: Bikini top £16. Bikini bottoms £12

And for those who have always wanted a cat face on their boobs…
10. Boohoo: £18

Andrea Gjestvang wins top prize at Sony World Photography awards


, , , , , , , , ,

Photographer Andrea Gjestvang has won the top prize at the Sony World Photography awards for her haunting and heartbreaking pictures of survivors of the Utøya massacre in November 2011.

Terrorist and white supremacist Anders Breivik killed 77 people on the 22nd of July 2011. 517 people survived his murderous frenzy; some hiding under sofas, behind pianos and in caves. Andrea has captured their intense, provacative and heartrending stories in her photos, which can be viewed here.

‘As Sexual Offences in West Yorkshire Rise By 21% Is Victim-Blaming Banter The Issue?’


, , , , , , , , ,

“When polled only 4% of the British population thought the number of people who are raped each year exceeds 10,000. This is unsurprising when you consider the victim-blaming culture which perpetuates the idea that false accusations are rife and anyone who leaves their house in a skirt is guilty until proven chaste.”

Read the rest of my Huffington Post blog post here.

Live blog of Thatcher’s funeral


, , , , , , , , ,

Check out our live blog of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral which includes protestors un-broadcast by BBC, Amanda Thatcher better than Pippa?, Bishop of London condemning protestors, George Osbourne crying whilst Cameron chuckles and Morrissey hates Maggie.
Check it out here

FAQ: Avian Flu


, , , , , , , , ,

What is avian flu?

Avian flu is caused by a virus which is similar to the types that affect humans. The symptoms are very similar to regular influenza viruses. They include a high temperature, aching muscles, chills, a cough and headaches.

Some of the sixteen variations of avian flu kill birds including poultry such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys, which are especially vulnerable. The most concerning variation is the deadly H5N1 strain. Since 2003 nearly 600 people have been infected with the virus since 2003. Although infection is rare 60% of the people who catch the virus die.

The newest concern is the H7N9 strain of virus which is similar to H5N1 as it causes the same symptoms and can also infect people. So far it has infected multiple people in China leading to fears of the virus mutating to allow human-to-human transmission.

Unlike many types of human influenza, avian flu is not spread through the air. It is contracted through infected bird droppings and contaminated objects, clothes or vehicles.

How many people have died?

The number of people infected by H7N9 is rising quickly as is the current death toll. At the moment 60 people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, including a seven year old girl. 13 people have died. The virus is now appearing in areas across the country including the capital, Beijing.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) over a thousand people who have come into contact with those who are infected are being closely monitored for symptoms of the virus. Currently there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission which would signal the possibility of a pandemic.

In January last year it was confirmed that there had been 583 cases of the H5N1 strain in humans with 344 deaths.

What is China doing?

Authorities in Shanghai ordered the slaughter of at least 100,000 chickens, ducks and geese. According to state media, the Hangzhou Carrier Pigeon Association plans to suspend races and vaccinate up to 90,000 pigeons. Last Monday, the WHO said it was talking to the Chinese government about sending some of its experts to the country to help investigate.

However there are concerns that the government has not responded quickly enough or in the right manner. Although the first two victims died on the 4th and 10th of March the government did not announce the disease publicly until the 31st. Ten years after the SARs outbreak, in which 774 people across the world died, China still does not have adequate laboratory or epidemiological capacities which are needed to detect, assess, notify and respond to health emergencies.

Some government officials have recommended a herbal remedy to combat the virus and a member of the People’s Liberation Army, Colonel Dai Xu has blamed H7N9 on America, calling it a “bio-psychological weapon”.

How worrying is it?

Bird-to-human transmission is harder than bird-to-bird and therefore cases are rare. However, the virus is deadly; about half of people who are infected will die.

Health officials in the US have said there is currently no cause for alarm, particularly as no human-to-human transmissions have yet been reported. However, according to Richard Webby, a member of the department of infectious diseases at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, the sequence of the virus appears to have some mutations which could indicate that virus has increased its ability to replicate in humans. However there’s no proof of that and it would need to change further to pass easily from human-to-human. There’s also the concern that two of the people who have caught the virus did have contact with each other. One of the victims of the virus had two sons, both of whom had acute pneumonia and one of which has already died. The WHO’s China representative said, “it raises a lot of concern.”

There’s also the worry that the flu which killed 50 million people within a few months in 1918, was a bird flu which had developed to spread in humans. Humans may have little or even no immunity to a new influenza virus that is significantly different from human influenza strains. An avian flu pandemic could be catastrophic.

Is it treatable?

H7N9 is treatable, (although not curable), with already available antiviral medications. According to The New York Times, the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already begun work on a vaccination for the virus just in case although this will take a month to prepare. Chinese authorities are also working to develop a vaccine.

What should people do?

As there’s no cure, although there are treatments, and the chance of death is so high it’s best to avoid catching the virus to begin with. The NHS says there are no travel restrictions to China or other affected countries; however it’s importance to be careful. They advise avoiding live animal markets and poultry farms and contact with animal faeces and following good hygiene practices and wash hands regularly.

For those with mobile phones who wish to be kept updated, the company UpSnap has developed a text messaging service which will inform people when bird flu reaches their area. The information will come directly from the Homeland Security Department, Centers for Disease Control, FEMA and the FBI and will cost about £2.60 a month.

BBC spent over £199,000 last year on licensing letters to halls of residence


, , , , , , ,

BBC World

The entrance to BBC World in the Television Centre.
Image courtesy of chiefmoamba

The BBC spent over £199,190.83 in 2012/13 posting 1,083,560 letters about TV licensing to student halls of residence.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that 7,011,875 ‘Red’ enforcement letters last year, (sent to addresses that haven’t responded to previous reminders to purchase or renew a TV Licence). This despite the fact that a little less than 400,000 people were caught watching TV without a licence across the UK in 2010 In 2011/12 the BBC spent £9,500,000 on postage.

The £199,190.83 spent on letters to student halls of residence only consists of the cost of postage and does not include the cost of paper or printing. Neither does it include the letters sent to students living in rented accommodation outside of halls of residence.

Using research which interviewed only 200 students across universities in May 2011, TV licensing claim that 29% of students watch live TV online and that 28% think they don’t need a license or don’t plan to buy one. Pauline Gillingham, TV Licensing spokesperson, said: “…if they are watching or recording programmes…at the same time as they are shown on TV they must have a valid licence or risk breaking the law.”

Retail Marketing Management student Rosie Dorman, 23, was bought a TV license by her mum when she moved into a shared flat in her second year. However she still received ten letters from the TV licensing authority despite having called them twice to confirm that she had a license. She described the behaviour as, “harassment, especially since we’ve actually bought the license they should be able to see that. And the fact that we were still receiving letters months later; it’s ridiculous.”

TV licensing has previously received criticism for its approach. A TV license officer was convicted of assault in 2005 on a person who denied needing a license and started filming the officer. In 2009 the BBC instructed the TV licensing authority to stop using “bully boy” tactics.

A colour TV Licence costs £145.50 and a black and white TV Licence costs £49.00.

Profile: Meet Frank, a refugee to confound the sterotype


, , , , , , , , ,

As UK politicians ratchet up the rhetoric on immigration. I tracked down one refugee from Cameroon who is doing his best to contribute to the greater good.

The Mini, fish and chips, Marks and Spencer, all undeniably British all marked with the same stamp: “made by immigrants”.

Top seven independent vintage shops in Leeds


, , , , , , , , ,

Recently “western Europe’s biggest mall project” opened in Leeds. A shopping centre with a million square feet in space for customers to stroll through, the equal of 13 football pitches. There is a cinema, 12 restaurants, bars and cafes, and, most importantly, 120 shops ranging from Armani Exchange to Urban Outfitters. However, for those whose fashion needs can’t be met by a One Direction pop-up shop the fourth-biggest shopping destination in Britain can offer much more.

With the country’s economy on track for a triple dip recession the fashion-and-purse conscious have turned to vintage. It’s cheaper than the high street and, unlike the latest Topshop attire; you won’t have to go home mortified when you see three other people in the same outfit. To add to Leeds’ ever growing collection of charity shops there are now numerous vintage stores which can sell you a piece of history bring back the forgotten eras.

Map of Leeds independent vintage shops

Top seven independent vintage shops in Leeds. © OpenStreetMap contributors

1. Blue Rinse
9-11 Call Ln
0113 245 1735

As Marilyn Monroe is deemed the face of the ‘50s, so Blue Rinse is to the Leeds vintage scene. Its first incarnation was as a stall in Leeds Market and in the 16 years since they have blossomed into a three floor giant with a 15,000 square foot warehouse and collaborations with Miss Selfridge, Topshop and Urban Outfitters. Yet despite their massive success their brand has retained its cult charm and affordable prices. The wide-range of stock is staggering; they currently have over 900 items for sale on their eBay store and the endless racks of clothing in their shop are a hoarders dream. Their upcycled ‘Re-Made in England’ range, where vintage clothes are taken apart and sewn into modern pieces, is perfect for those who find vintage sizing a challenge but still want the eclectic, one-off look of vintage fabric. It’s currently on sale in 27 Urban Outfitters stores across Europe.
Blue Rinse Leeds

Blue Rinse, Re-Made in England

Blue Rinse Leeds

Blue Rinse

Blue Rinse

Blue Rinse


22 New Market St
0113 245 5101

What Urban Outfitters dreams of being, Best succeeds at. A truly urban shop that does indeed stock the best vintage you can find. Affordable (customised Ralph Lauren shirt dresses for £35), beautiful (the delicately beaded tops) and worn by Rita Ora; it would be hard to give a better recommendation. The shop is beautifully laid out with all three floors full of clothes, shoes and accessories, without looking messy. The staff are the friendliest I’ve come across in the city; happy to chat about the merchandise and utterly without the more-vintage-than-thou attitude than sometimes pervades similar shops. Unlike many vintage stores there is a large and impressive men’s section and their ‘Put your Best on’ t-shirts are a true highlight.
BEST Leeds

BEST Leeds

BEST Boutique

BEST Boutique

3. Bird’s Yard
83 Kirkgate
0113 245 9515

Alt Fashion magazine’s Best UK Shop of the Year currently hosts over 50 independent designers and creators within the one building and last year opened another store in Sheffield. There are couture gowns from featured-in-Vogue Bird Shell and avant garde hair and make-up from the independent agency Blonde Fury. There’s also art, jewellery and second-hand records all collected in one beautiful vintage setting. It’s a veritable smörgåsbord of creation.
Bird's Yard Leeds

Bird’s Yard

Bird's Yard, Marvellous Tearoom

Bird’s Yard

4. Mad Elizabeth
Corn Exchange
Call Lane
0113 234 0363

Mad Elizabeth started in Birmingham, with two friends selling vintage and reworked clothes at their local market. Venturing to Leeds in 2010 as a pop-up shop they decided to take a permanent lease and have become one of the city’s not-very-well-kept secrets. The shop is named after a line from a Cribs song and their aesthetic is an eclectic mish-mash of indie and vintage. With maxi dresses for around the £20 mark and gorgeous ear-cuffs for a fiver they’re one of the most affordable shops in Leeds. Their jewellery will surely inspire Accessorize and Topshop whilst being priced at a tenth of the high street. The store itself is beautifully arranged managing to fit a vast amount of items without looking cluttered and the clothes rails are arranged by colour to ease the stress of rummaging.
Mad Elizabeth Leeds

Mad Elizabeth

Mad Elizabeth jewellery

Mad Elizabeth jewellery

5. Pop Boutique
12-14 Central Rd
0113 243 2264

Although technically not an independent store, (they have five stores in the UK and one in Sweden), their Northern roots and impressive range of clothes, shoes and accessories mean they have to be included. Originally opened in Manchester in 1994 Pop came to Leeds in 2008 and revitalised the vintage scene with a froth of fun and style. Where Blue Rinse is the archetype of a vintage shop, rails to rummage through and suitcases full of scarves and belts, Pop is vintage-gone-high-street. Shoes and accessories are displayed amongst the rails of neatly ordered clothes and Pop Boutique bags are exhibited on shelves. For those who hate sales shopping and want their consumerism ordered and efficient, Pop is ideal. However it is accessories where Pop truly shines. A striking array of shoes, scarves, bags and belts are displayed enticingly in the basement and the prices are supremely affordable. The best bargains are their men’s vintage leather bags. They’re in excellent condition and are wallet friendly at £30, similar can be found at Topman for £120.
Pop Boutique Leeds

Pop Boutique Leeds

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

6. Candy Candy
Corn Exchange
Call Lane
0113 245 4955

For vintage-esque handmade costume jewellery and hair accessories the sweet treat that is Candy Candy is second to none. The old fashioned sweet shop-themed store is a confectionary wonderland with stunning necklaces placed side-by-side with cake-shaped soaps and a fairground horse hanging from the ceiling. Although the price range is definitely on the higher side, (one particularly stunning Alice in Wonderland key choker is £49), the quality of work is incredible and the avant garde fashion is certainly memorable. Along with their handmade jewellery they also stock a small range of vintage clothing and they’re one of the few shops in Leeds to stock Rose and Co, the Yorkshire-based vintage-inspired cosmetics company.
Candy Candy Leeds

Candy Candy

Candy Candy

Candy Candy

Candy Candy

Candy Candy

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair
Corn Exchange
The largest vintage fair of its kind, Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair has been serving 30 of the UK’s cities for eight years. Appearing in Leeds around 3 times a year it returns to its hometown brimming with vintage items at always-affordable prices. Pocket watches, vinyl records, antique and costume jewellery, shoes, gloves, hats, scarves, suitcases, crockery, toys, magazines, hats, picnic baskets, cake stands and clothes of all colours and fabrics mingle in the Corn Exchange whilst bargain-hunters root out the best deals. Even the most avowed hater of sales shopping will be converted by this dazzling array of vintage treasures.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair.
Image courtesy of Leo Reynolds

What’s your favourite Leeds independent vintage shop?