My name is Melanie Mays-Tanton and I graduated from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy (PJEA) in 2014, at the Sheffield City College campus. I studied the intensive one-year extended diploma (level 3) in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship which has been one of them most exciting years of my life. During my time with the PJEA I was selected out of the campus to attend and talk at a variety of events from Sheffield to London, including presenting at the Bringing the Gap conference at Sheffield Hallam University.
Given what I had learned from the course I started a photography micro-business which I produced from a detailed business plan that I had developed with the help of the PJEA. Using this business plan, and building on my increasing confidence I pitched the plan to 15 potential investors with the academy; my pitch was a true success and I received investment and mentoring offers from many of the individuals. I shook hands with one in particular that same day and I am still in contact with them today. The PJEA Business Manager said, quote “You wowed the room” – I was so pleased with my progress and couldn’t have done it without the support of the academy.
The PJEA further supported me when I was successful in passing the quality selection process for the BBC TV show, The Apprentice at the age of 18. While I made it no further than the interview in London the feedback was very positive and was advised to attain more business experience and to then reapply – this was not the end of the road. The confidence from this experience helped me to build the business plan that earned me the support of my investor, with great thanks to the academy for their part in getting me to London.
Since graduating from the PJEA I took some time to think about the entrepreneurial business that I wanted to develop going forward, and I also used the time to develop my personal life. In the last three years I got married, had two children and refreshed my business knowledge by attaining a degree with Hull University and University Centre Doncaster – I am currently in my final year, aiming for a 1st Class Honours Degree. As a part of my degree I am to take part in work placement; I considered many industries from law to wildlife park management. My decision was highly influenced by the entrepreneurial spirit that my time with the PJEA helped me build; I chose to start my own business – Planet Tot.
Planet Tot is ran solely by myself and my husband, Kallum Tanton, and is currently in its infancy as an online retailer of personal gifts with a children and family theme, including personalised gifts, books and photo shoots. The store also sells a variety of toys for children, chosen specifically for their benefits to children’s cognitive development. Our slogan is “All Things Tots” – which resonates through my limitless love for our children, who are the driving force behind the theme of the store. This business is also born of the advice given to me by the BBC The Apprentice team to get more business experience, then to reapply for the opportunity.
Although starting as a work placement project, Planet Tot has become a large part of our lives that we enjoy nurturing and love to see it grow. We are trying to gain as much recognition as possible so far by marketing on social media and email updates to subscribed users. If you are interested in having a look at our project please contact us on our primary interface on Facebook or our products can be purchased directly from our website.
This amazing journey that I have started with my husband could only have been possible with the advice, mentorship and guidance that I received from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, I will forever cherish my time there.
Author: Melanie Mays-Tanton, PJEA alumni and founder of Planet Tot