Shipston-on-Stour based Wild & Fine was among eight shortlisted businesses who pitched their Startups to a panel of Blenheim’s senior management and the FAB Accelerator team.
The winning applicant, who describes their brand as jewellery with stories to tell, was also awarded a contract to supply their work to the Oxfordshire Estate’s retail outlets.
In addition to the contract, Jessica Hickman-Woolcott, silversmith, jeweller and owner of Wild & Fine, and colleague Hannah Rogan will also receive ongoing tips and advice from members of the Blenheim management team.
“Being involved in the Blenheim Startup Competition 2019 has been a really inspiring experience for us,” said Jessica.
“It was a privilege to meet the other seven finalists and hear them speak with such passion about their brands. Wherever life takes them from here, we are confident they will all do very well and we hope to keep in touch with them in future.
“Both Hannah and I are very nervous public speakers and we entered the competition to challenge ourselves to get up in front of everyone and introduce the brand.
“We never expected to win. We were therefore extremely surprised to hear that Wild & Fine had been selected by the judges.
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with Blenheim and are especially excited about the prospect of developing bespoke designs inspired by the Palace and grounds,” she added.
Working in partnership with the FAB Accelerator team, the Oxfordshire estate put together its own programme designed to support locally-based firms and is now in its second year.
The opportunity was open to any business which is less than two years old or has fewer than five employees, is based within 20 miles of Blenheim, and can provide something which could be stocked in their shops. The competition attracted more than 39 entrants of which eight went through to the final pitching process.
“Our decision to select Wild & Fine as our 2019 Startup winner was based not only on their range of delicate jewellery, but also their passion and values, as well as the development potential of their collection to reflect the Palace’s beautiful gardens and parkland,” said Roger File, Property Director and Chief Operating Officer, Blenheim.
“We believe we can really make a difference to this new business, by providing support, advice and a year-long retail contract and we look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength,” he added.
The brainchild of Fabulous Bakin’ Boys’ founder Gary Frank, FAB was Oxford’s first accelerator programme for ambitious entrepreneurs and startups.
“The Blenheim pitching event is a great opportunity for local startups to show off their products. The quality of the applicants was incredibly high and testament to the thriving entrepreneurial culture in Oxfordshire,” said Gary Frank.
The other seven finalists were BREATHE360, A Blackbird Sang, Lou Lou Creates, Rootyfruit, Hazell & Gray, The Conscious Company and Miana Ltd creating everything from personalised canapé boards to wellness products.