With a successful furniture business specialising in modern shabby chic and traditional antique wooden furniture, Dawn Brown knows what it takes to get a small retail business off the ground. A growing family-run business, Freshlook Furniture sells both Dawn’s own upcycled and restored pieces, and those of others who rent space from the retail outlet.After taking some time out to raise her daughter three years ago, Dawn decided that returning to the daily grind of a 9 to 5 wasn’t the right fit for her any more. Instead she set about looking for a new opportunity that would give her more control over her career, and the flexibility and rewards she wanted. Having got into refurbishing furniture to sell at antique centres, Dawn and her future business partner Paul quickly outgrew the limited space they were being given at these centres. Together they took the decision to open their own outlet and before she knew it, Dawn had become a business owner in her own right: “I never thought for one minute that I would be my own boss and run a successful business doing what I love at the age of 28. If somebody had suggested that to me a few years ago I’d have laughed. But now I think to myself, ‘If I can do it, then so can anybody.’” It was this belief in the importance of people realising their own potential that led Dawn to sign up for the Get Mentoring scheme. She says, “In many ways I was nurtured by Paul in the early days of our business and he’s passed on the knowledge he’s gained over the years. I see Get Mentoring as my chance to help someone else in the way that he’s helped me. Unemployment is obviously high at the moment and there will be lots of people out there mulling over whether to start up their own business. I’m keen to offer support by being positive but also giving them a reality check. A voice of experience and encouragement was important to me, especially when you have to work hard through those early days to get things up and running.” Dawn also has impressive ambitions for the future of her own business. She’s already looking at opening a sister boutique upholstering and selling on luxury pieces, and she would like to run workshops to support the growing trend in upcycling antique furniture. Dawn thinks that the skills learnt at the Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring session won’t just help her interact with future mentees but also think about her approach to her day job: “The training in Sheffield was a really positive experience and the things I learnt about body language, engaging with others and using different lines of questioning have opened my eyes in all aspects of my work life. I feel like I can utilise those skills with future mentees, but also customers and clients.