A life in the theatre was cut short for Annie Murray when addiction took a hold and she found herself, like 21,000 others in the UK, on the streets and her health in peril. After 4 gruelling years spent homeless and living in hostels her life began to transform, and being accepted onto a film making course run by Kennedy Street CIC in 2016 was one of the initial steps on her recovery journey. Back then, she did not know how vital that step would become to her future.
Fast forward two years and Annie is the now the proud founder of Edit Sweet Ltd, a film production social enterprise based in Brighton. Her business idea came to life following the course and with the support and structure of The Platform’s 6-month StartUp Programme – SEEK.
Her social enterprise offers film production packages for businesses to help them get their impact stories out into the world. Profits and additional funding are then funnelled into providing free workshops for people in recovery to learn all things media. The inspiration came from the realisation that the film course she took was a huge factor in turning her own life around.
“I realised how lucky I was for the rare opportunity and that it was in my ability, if I had the confidence and support, to be able to create something similar that would enable that same life changing possibility for other people.”
The SEEK programme allowed Annie to take her inkling of a business idea and get it off the ground. All aspects of testing and setup were covered on the programme and a highlight for her was the focus on the emotional side of being an entrepreneur. The people running the course and the other participants understood the emotional aspect, and that enabled Annie to keep focused on the bigger picture.
The combination of having access to a business mentor in the same field, who boosted her confidence around pricing strategies, to having 1-2-1 time with a financial expert helping her make sense of the numbers, allowed Annie to feel confident from day one. The other budding social entrepreneurs on the programme were just as helpful and supportive as the programme leaders and still continue to support in any endeavour. Annie notes that the ongoing support after the 6-months has been paramount.
Annie recalls that her personal suffering over the years had meant she started the SEEK programme with her confidence and self-esteem at zero and her biggest challenge was overcoming this. Today, she notes that her life has improved immeasurably because of social enterprise, business, focus, creativity, purpose and it has made her feel confident and complete as a human being.
“Of course it was daunting and I think the inspiration that kept me going was that if I could offer an opportunity to just one other person then I would feel like I had really achieved something big, because I know how huge and key it has been for me in completely turning my life around.”
Her journey to starting up a business had a ripple effect on others in her life, bringing her closer to her parents who she goes to for sound business advice. Her parents have their own business of which Annie was raised around so creative business is intrinsic to her and she feels she is following in their footsteps in her own way which has strengthened their relationship after a very rocky few years.
Edit Sweet was launched as a limited company in January 2018, just 6-months after starting the SEEK programme, and Annie has worked with nearly 20 different clients since then. Offering bespoke packages, Edit Sweet have created everything from small social media snippets to feature-length documentaries, from business explainers to music videos. Annie is excited that her social enterprise has attracted a diverse client group from small local businesses to most recently securing a 12-month contract with an employment law firm with 3 offices across the UK.
One project Annie worked on earlier in the year saw her following a cancer survival patient through her very personal journey. Annie feels immensely proud to have been able to be part of that journey. She found that the film-making process helped the patient with her own well-being, sharing her story to the camera, as well as being a finished piece to share with the community and inspiration for others battling cancer.
“My portfolio is expanding quicker than I ever thought possible. I never know what’s round the corner which is what I need from my business – to be challenged and faced with something new that keeps me on my toes, keeps me learning and keeps my creative brain flowing.”
Thanks to the income from her business, as well as a £10K grant from ‘Awards for All’ from The Big Lottery, Annie is now developing media courses to support people in very early recovery to build confidence and skills, like she did two years ago.
Annie shares that starting up a social enterprise was the best thing she has ever done as it aided her recovery and has given her a life she never thought possible. She encourages others embarking on this journey not to hesitate and to try and not worry and stress too much and to try and enjoy the process.
“Once faced with the challenge, the support and encouragement made the whole process fun and exciting and I recommend the whole process as a therapy, no matter what personal challenges you are trying to overcome or social issues you are trying to combat. The emotional rewards far outweigh the hard work and stress levels!”
She is also looking to work with more truly community minded organisations to use film to tell their impact story.
“If people don’t see or hear what you’re doing, then they simply won’t know. It’s so easy these days to get the word out there with a video, much easier than going to networking events night after night. With my passion for film-making with people’s passion for their work, sparks fly when you put that together. Let film do the hard work for you”
Annie shares her aspirations to continue on the successful start in her business journey. Her desire is to make a sustainable impact throughout the year (not just one-off) for those in recovery through the free workshops she is currently putting together.
Phone: 07826 949326
Do you have an idea for a business that will have a positive impact in your community or the environment? The next SEEK programme is open for applications to start early 2019. Find out how you can apply to be in a chance to get support to make your idea a reality, just like Annie did.
The SEEK programme is a multi-partner project that has received funding under the Building Better Opportunities Programme which is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. Partners include The Platform, UnLtd, StartUp Croydon, Croydon Council and University of Chichester and covers the Coast to Capital area.
Featured Image Source: Gus Picket from Rugged Studios