And the winner of KickStart 2016 is…


A start-up skiwear-for-women company from Leicester is heading uphill after landing £20,000 in an enterprise competition.

Snooks, formed by two former Loughborough University students, bagged the top prize in the Baldwins Accountants’ KickStart Young Entrepreneurs Awards after impressing around 500 business representatives with their plans for the business.

Sophie Kelly and Susie Beere have collected £10,000 in cash for their business and £10,000 worth of mentoring and accounting advice from Baldwins Accountants, which has offices in Ashby and across the Midlands and North East.

The duo pitched their tailored ski jackets, t-shirts, trousers and beanie hats in front of businesses from across the Midlands region at the fourth KickStart Awards at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham.

They beat off two other young entrepreneurs to land the prize after winning through against 10 start-ups at the semi-final stage.

The pair spoke of their frustration at not being able to find ski and snowboarding clothing with the correct fit for women, and how it set them on a mission to create a brand solely for women.

They currently sell six product lines and their vision over the next three years is to have Snooks products for sale in high street shops around the country, especially in London, and in major action sports retailers throughout Europe.

Sophie said: “Winning the prize is more than just about the investment. It’s about the incredible belief and the support shown from Baldwins. Thank you to everyone that voted for us, it means such a lot.

“We’ve got a clear vision of where the business needs to be. In the next year we want to be stocked in British and European retailers. “

Susie said: “The fact that a group of really respected business people believe in what we are doing means an awful lot to us.

“This prize money means that we can now invest in marketing our brand and getting some sales in and making a success of out of Snooks.

“People often say to us that we are really lucky to be doing what we are doing, but I honestly believe that you make your own opportunities, and if you don’t put yourself in positions where you can win competitions like this, then you’re reducing your chances of success.”

They added the prize money will enable the business to consolidate online as they head into their first skiing and snowboarding season which runs from November through to March.

David Baldwin, a partner at Baldwins Accountants, said Snooks had fought off the toughest competition since KickStart had begun.

“All three businesses will go on to be successful as they are all well-researched and address a gap in the market, so it was difficult to decide the winner but the audience could see that Sophie and Susie know their target audience requirements inside out,” he said.

“The event underlined that we have some really talented young business people and all our winners over the past years are doing well and we delighted to have played a part in that.

“I’d like to congratulate all of the finalists on getting this far, and look forward to helping each of them to achieve their future goals.”

The evening also raised £15,000 for Baldwins Accountants’ official charity partner, HelpHarryHelpOthers, through an auction and raffle.