An entrepreneur vying to become the best exporter in Cumbria has revealed she would not have achieved success if it had not been for her location.
Claire Shepherd, who established Zuza Trading in 2014, said being located in Cumbria has been a key part of her success. Zuza Trading sources unique and ethically soured décor and accessories from communities in South Africa, before selling on to zoos, fairs in the UK and via connections with Ireland, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia, to name a few.
Claire utilised support provided through the Cumbria Growth Hub, which has led to a connection with Cockermouth-based marketing company Blue Shadow Marketing, support via UK Trade & Industry and valuable connections with other suppliers and collaborators.
Zuza Trading is one of three finalists for the in-cumbria Business Awards Best Exporter category. Claire – who started the business from her guesthouse near the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, but now has office and storage space in Maryport – said: “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been based in Cumbria.
“You get access to a lot of support and there are a lot of creative people around to help you develop things. You can go off and do things by yourself, but that can take a lot of time and be expensive, whereas here in Cumbria there are a lot of people who can help, in particular when it comes to making connections. I don’t necessarily think you would get that in a big city.”
Claire moved to Cumbria from her native South Africa in 2010 to run the Ouse Bridge Guest House, in Dubwath with her husband. What started as a small time operation too off thanks to a significant order from The British Museum, which then led to more orders from the UK and overseas.
“We set out with a clear marketing plan and a clear view on our ethical approach – and it has worked well,” she added.
“I’m very positive about the future and excited about where things may lead. And while challenges like Brexit may have an impact, I don’t think people will stop buying things from Britain, and there will be demand for products with a great story behind them such as ours.”
Zuza Trading are competing with Penrith-based companies Primasonics International and Trade Copiers for the top award, which will be revealed at a glittering ceremony at The Halston, Carlisle, on November 9.