It was September 2014, when Lucy Taylor graduated from the University of Wolverhampton after completing her First Class degree in Special Needs, Inclusion Studies and Education Studies.
Alongside her studies, Lucy worked as a team leader on a number of short break schemes and worked with children and young people with complex needs. Lucy’s son displayed similar characteristics to some of the children she worked with and therefore she decided to apply what she had learned about Sensory Integration and the benefits of sensory movement and play strategies into his home life. She gradually experienced positive changes in her son’s behaviour and received positive feedback from his school.
With the support of SPEED Plus, Lucy founded Sensory Wise in September 2014 which is based in Dudley. They develop and sell a wide range of affordable resources and equipment using Sensory Integration theory for those who require support with their learning and behaviour and whose lives are affected by special educational needs and/or disability. This includes children and adults alike, their families and professionals in health, education and social care.
Lucy’s business is based on her own experience and those of the families she has worked with. She first learned of Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Disorder whilst volunteering for French Squared who support children with complex needs and their families, through the University of Wolverhampton. It was this role, her personal experience and her direct contact with health, education and social care professionals as well as families that prompted Lucy to start her own business.
Lucy said, “I had always wanted to start my own business but I lacked confidence in my ability to cope with such an enormous task. I saw SPEED Plus as a way of building my confidence and resilience so that I could turn my ideas into a reality and ultimately how to overcome my fears about going it alone.”
“The networking opportunities were not only fun but a great way to practice talking about my business in a more succinct way. I have found it beneficial to my personal growth by increasing my confidence to talk to people I don’t know. Networking has also helped gain exposure for my business resulting in referrals and sales orders. I have also been able to meet other business owners who are interested in working with me on future projects.”
Lucy, who lives in Dudley, has now set up an online shop with a good, solid range of individual products including innovative and creative sensory toys, and resources in line with recommendations made by play therapy and occupational therapy professionals. These professionals have also expressed an interest in becoming customers and using the Sensory Wise website to help teach parents about Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing Disorder and ultimately how to Be Sensory Wise.
In July 2015, Lucy won an award for Graduate Start-up of the Year at the University of Wolverhampton Business Achievement Awards 2015.
Lucy now plans to develop a range of products to support speech and communication such as flash cards with unique personalisation and Sensory Wise fidget kits. She is also planning to work with three other SPEED Plus beneficiaries later in the year on different projects.
Lucy recommends other students and graduates to apply to join SPEED Plus, she said, “Joining the SPEED Plus project was a big step for me and not a decision I made lightly. The workshops, business development weekend and professional support on offer have given me the knowledge, skills and most importantly the confidence to assess my business needs and identify what I need to do to make Sensory Wise successful and sustainable.”
SPEED Plus is a business start-up project part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
If you would like to find out more about SPEED Plus, then please visit: www.speed-plus.org