Tyrone Santa Maria, 53, from Blyth, had been made redundant a number of times throughout his career, which included roles at international fashion house Burberry and popular shoe company Simply Way, before launching his business Arty Wood Craft with the help of Pinetree.
Enterprise agency Pinetree, based in Birtley, helped Tyrone launch his new business with support from expert advisor Vanessa Proudlock. Tyrone developed a clear business plan in his Pinetree sessions, which helped him gain a £2,600 grant used to buy specialist laser equipment.
Arty Wood Craft specialises in crafting bespoke laser-cut MDF items, such as wedding invitations, ornamental accessories and gifts.
Tyrone said: “At the point of redundancy I had nothing to lose. I had always wanted to work for myself but had never had the confidence, so when I was made redundant I saw it as an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and decided to begin a new venture.”
“The team at Pinetree were very helpful, and business adviser Vanessa came to my home to help me develop a business plan and talked me through the different financial options.
“Vanessa’s own experiences with business helped me. It is so helpful gaining expert advice from someone who has the experience of setting up and running their own business.
He added: “It was a huge learning curve and a very nerve wracking experience, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I can’t thank Vanessa and Pinetree enough.”
Tyrone has gone on to create a website and develop partnerships with local retailers who now stock his products.
Vanessa, who has helped a number of small businesses become established in the North East through her role at Pinetree, said: “Tyrone is very talented and was determined to finally be able to work for himself after building his career as a craftsman.
“He was very enthusiastic and designed a great business plan, which helped him gain the funding to buy his equipment and set up Arty Wood Craft. We are looking forward to seeing the business grow and develop.”
Tyrone now aims to recruit an employee to assist him with the increase in projects and orders since his website launch.
Since 1991, Pinetree, which is based at the Pinetree Centre in Birtley, has been working to help a range of clients that include students, unemployed individuals, ex-offenders, people with physical and sensory disabilities, ex-service personnel, people aged 50+ and those individuals and businesses who have been refused mainstream finance, offering loans of up to £25,000.