Elspeth Van Der Hole, UK Fashion Photographer, Droitwich
Meet Elspeth. 25 years old and full of enthusiasm for her fashion photography business that she runs from her home in Droitwich Spa. Passionate about her home town and educated in Worcestershire she credits the skills she learned at Worcester Sixth Form College while studying A-level photography for inspiring her career choice. After a spell away securing her degree at Nottingham Trent University in photography she’s back and in business with an online following of 10,000 and contracts locally and nationally. She worked with ASOS boutiques and Vidal Sassoon, and personalities including Frankie Cocozza from the X Factor and up and coming popstar, Alexa Goddard, who was recently signed up to Jay Z’s label Roc Nation.
Two years ago things weren’t so rosy for Elspeth. With a history of mental illness, the death of her father from cancer in her third year at University, ending up homeless and sofa surfing saw Elspeth hit rock bottom and she wondered how she’d ever get her life back on track. She made a decision there was only one way to go – up! With the help of the Princes Trust, an organisation that Worcestershire County Council financially supports, she attended business courses and was assigned a business mentor to help get her ideas off the ground and start the hard work to turn her dreams into a reality.
As Elspeth says: “I was devastated after my father died. I had always turned to him for advice and guidance in regards to my career. My father passed away. I threw myself into my photography. It was the only constant in my life. I’d spend hours in the dark room, I felt like I belonged there. I’ve learned that nothing comes easily and I’ve had to work really hard to build my career. The help and support I’ve had to get my business off the ground has been amazing.”
She’s clearly a driven woman, with a love of fashion and photography and a strong head for business, much gleaned from those business courses she attended. Some things still frustrate her though. Like broadband speeds which has become a critical business issue.
As she says, “In my business the Internet is so important but uploading photos and videos can take hours. It’s so frustrating! I need to be able compete on an equal footing with areas where there’s faster broadband speeds. That’s why I really welcome the plans to upgrade speeds across Worcestershire.”
To support businesses like Elspeth’s, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership is investing £2.4m from the Government’s Growth Deal to increase access of Superfast Broadband for local residents and businesses from 90% to 95% by 2017 ensuring Worcestershire continues to be a World Class place to do business.
Cllr Simon Geraghty, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure said: “Elspeth is a good example of a SME in need of improvements to her broadband service in order to compete against competitors. In recognition of the importance of faster broadband speeds, Worcestershire County Council, together with BT are in the process of rolling out superfast broadband to 90% of residential and business premises across the county by mid-2016. Once complete, I know this will make a major difference to the ability of businesses across the county to compete in the digital world”.
Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is great to hear the difference that our investment through the Growth Deal will make to businesses like Elspeth’s. I would encourage businesses and residents to look out for Superfast Broadband being enabled in your area so that you can upgrade at the earliest opportunity as you do have to upgrade to benefit from the high speeds.”
Residents and businesses can find out more about the availability of Superfast Broadband in Worcestershire and register for updates at www.superfastworcestershire.com