Royal Marines Spouse and X-Forces Beneficiary Olivia Smith was announced as the winner of the Start Up Loans Company Start Up of the Year Award on Tuesday 12th December.
Olivia who launched her business Olivia & Pearl, an accessible, luxury pearl jewellery brand and online retailer, this Autumn was supported by X-Forces through mentoring from CEO Ren Kapur and through a loan from the Start Up Loans Company.
Ren Kapur MBE, said
We are so proud that Olivia has been recognised in this way, there couldn’t be anyone more deserving! Not only is this amazing for the Armed Forces community but Olivia won this against Start-Ups from all communities across the nation. This truly is an accolade to Olivia and the Armed Forces community.
As an avid lover of pearls when she was younger, Olivia remembers her dad often returning from his business trips with pearls. She grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and remembers washing cars and running coffee and tea stands as her own little businesses at a young age. She worked as an actor for 10 years and then moved to advertising for a while but then, after realising she didn’t want to work for other people, finally made the leap to start up her own business. She decided to turn her love for pearls into a brand and put herself in the driver seat of her career.
Olivia wants to encourage other military spouses and says,
To people starting up their own business I would say feel the fear and do it anyway. It is scary, but make sure you try it. Transitioning to be the only person making decisions is really hard at first and you carry the business with you all the time but it is amazing to see your decisions become a reality.
Olivia has now launched her online shop as of 1st December and works alongside X-Forces to support military spouses in Enterprise. For Olivia, she wants military spouses to realise that they too can find their place in self-employment.
Winning the award came as a total surprise to Olivia.
What a complete surprise and absolute delight to win the Start Up of the Year Award. Thank you so much X-Forces and the Start Up Loans Company, I will be celebrating tonight!
Lieutenant General Richard Nugee CVO CBE, Chief of Defence People, from the Ministry of Defence, said
I was delighted to hear the news that Olivia had won Start Up of the Year Award. It is excellent to see that the support for spouses of our serving military personnel is going from strength to strength and enabling them to explore careers paths both in employment and self-employment. Congratulations Olivia!
For further details on how X-Forces can support you, please visit the X-Forces website at www.x-forces.com or call 0800 3689533 to speak to the X-Forces team.