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Business | 29


Ex-RAF Servicewoman Hannah Finds niche in the Market with help fromX-Forces


X-Forces is the leading provider for enterprise in the Armed Forces community and was recently awarded the GoldAward Employer Recognition SchemeAward. In the last four years, X-Forces has supported the launch of over 1,100 businesses started by service leavers, veterans, spouses, family members, reservists and cadets over the age of 18, including individuals from theWounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) community.They also supportawide range of initiatives, including the Poppy Appeal, Armed Forces Day and others, across all media channels and, most importantly, continue to raise the awareness of the Armed Forces contribution to theUKeconomy.


Hannah Saunders joined the Royal Air Force Personnel Support Branch in 2008 aged just 23. Fast forward nine years and Hannah is now asuccessful business owner and married to husband Ed, who she met seven years ago at RAF Leeming, with athree year old son and another baby on the way in February!


For Hannah it was the possibility of adventurous opportunities that first attracted her to the RAF and it seems she has had her fair share, having now learned to mountain bike, ski, surf,dinghy sail, yacht sail, climb and wind surf! However,it wasn’t all about the sport! Hannah’s proudest memory is being awarded aChief of Air Staff’s Commendation for astrategy project she was working on.


“it’s lovely having agroup of people in the same position as you who have been on a similar journey”


Despite the amazing opportunities Hannah had in the Armed Forces, she came to the realisation that she wanted to put her business, that she’d been working on for ayear alongside her role in the RAF,first and spend abit more time with her family and so she left the RAF in the Summer 2017.


Being avery outdoorsy family,Hannah had noticed that there was agap in the market for outdoor products for children. The first idea came to Hannah when, one day,she noticed that her young son’s chapped lips were badly bleeding. The lip salve she had brought out with them wasn’t getting through the dribble that


them wasn’t getting through the dribble that naturally often comes with atoddler


naturally often comes with a toddler and so she decided to hone her


and so she decided to hone her own recipe. It was from there that Toddle was born!


Hannah now has ateam of 6freelancers supporting her on her entrepreneurial journey but it wasn’t always easy.


Hannah said: “It’s difficult having nobody else to fall back on when you’re the only employee. I have alittle team now,but for the longest time it was just me doing the accounts, sales, operations, design, social media etc. Ifound it difficult to go from putting all decisions through achain of command, to all decisions just all on me, and trying to prioritise the vast amount of work.”


For Hannah, support was key.Through X-Forces’ mentoring and the X-Forces workshops she was given support in writing her


“I’m not sure where Toddle would be now without X-Forcesto be honest.”


business plan, accessing funding, marketing the business, sales and even tax returns.


“X-Forces has helped Toddle alot through its first year.It’s great to know you have someone there should you have an issue or difficult question and it’s also great meeting other veterans who are starting their own businesses; it’s lovely having a group of people in the same position as you who have been on asimilar journey.I’m not sure where Toddle would be now without X-Forces to be honest.“


She also advises budding entrepreneurs to do their market research and most importantly, to sell themselves!


“I think forces people can be afraid to shout about themselves. The feedback I’ve had


regarding forces business owners is that apparently, we’re very thorough and we tend to have thought about the second/third order effects of our business decisions... so if you think you don’t have any business knowledge because of your trade/branch, you have more transferable skills than you think. So, have the confidence to go for it!”


Toddle has launched its Kickstarter campaign entitled ‘Toddle- Born Wild Toiletries’; where customers can pre-order from their exciting new range. They are already 80% funded, with days still to go! They’ll also be selling limited edition personalised adventure bundle gift boxes, perfect for adults who love the outdoors and have sensitive skin as well as the little ones. Find out more and support the campaign at kickstarter. comkickstarter.com (search ‘Toddle’).


Website: toddle.online Facebook: facebook.com/toddlebornwild Instagram: ToddleBornWild Twitter: twitter.com/toddlebornwild


If you’re considering self-employment like Hannah, why not come along to one of X-Forces’ free Self-Employment Discovery Workshops around the country for ex- servicemen and women and their families. For more information contact briony@x-forces.com or visit http://bit.ly/xfevents


Envoy is offering six lucky readers the chance to win one of: Five lip balms (RRP £10 each) or aPersonalised Adventure Bundle (RRP £42): Hand Sanitiser, Lip Balm, Sun and Wind Protection Balm, 100% Cotton Neck Scarf (aged 0-4 or 4-adult) and aPersonalised Adventure Gift Box. Simply email enquiries@raf-ff.org. uk putting ‘Toddle Prize’ in the heading by Monday 16th April ’18. We’ll then put all emails into ahat and draw out the winners. Winners will be notifed via email.


Hannah Saunders. www.raf-ff.org.uk |Spring 2018 | ENVOY


©Images X-Forces.


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