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Department for International Trade praises mum's business

INNOVATOR: Sharon McBean and the Nia Ballerina jewellery box

A FORMER social worker who launched a line of musical jewellery boxes featuring black ballerinas is achieving huge exporting success – thanks to Department for International Trade (DIT) experts.

Sharon McBean, who lives in Birmingham, launched her Nia Ballerina last summer and received so many orders from the United States in the run-up to Christmas that she had to enlist the help of a packing warehouse in Virginia to help her cope with the demand.

After meeting Cheryl Boxall, an international trade adviser at DIT’s Birmingham office, Sharon took the advantage of the department’s export support service. This included offering advice on intellectual property protection and launching a global e-commerce website.

Boxall said:

“The fact that Nia Ballerina has experienced such rapid success demonstrates that Sharon has tapped into a gap in the market. DIT has been helping her company from the start and continued to offer support as Sharon looks to expand more strategically into new markets.

“Issues such as intellectual property are crucial in business and this has been an important part of her export experience so far.”

IMPACT: The Nia Ballerina musical jewellery box

McBean came up with the idea for the jewellery boxes after failing to find a suitable one for her ballet-mad daughter who is five years old. Realising there was a business opportunity she hired an illustrator to design two images for the musical jewellery boxes and ordered black ballerina figurines to go inside them.

Following her initial success, which included selling more than 1,000 boxes to US buyers in just a few weeks, the mumpreneur is now in the process of creating new lines to complement them. She has also collaborated with the US-based organisation Brown Girls Do Ballet.

McBean said:

“The past few months have been absolutely overwhelming. I never imagined that these jewellery boxes would become so popular so quickly.

“They have proved to be a major success, particularly in America, accounting for around 80 percent of ales over the Christmas period. I’m looking for see how we can continue growing sales there, building on the success we’ve had so far.

“I’m grateful to Cheryl and the team at DIT because without that support I’m not sure I would have been able to prepare my business for overseas trading so quickly. I intend to continue working with DIT and plan to tap into markets in Ghana and South Africa."

Any company interested in breaking into overseas market and taking advantage of the global appetite for UK goods and services, should visit the new online trade hub which is part of the Government’s Exporting is GREAT initiative.

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