Within just three years of launching her promotional staffing agency on campus, Sunderland graduate Fern Snailham has now been named as one of the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs.

Fern has been included in a list of 32 UK female entrepreneurs to look out for by Business Leader, the go-to industry bible for businesses. Whether they are an established and successful businesswoman, disrupting their industry, or are set to burst onto the scene – these are the individuals set to dominate the business community for years to come.

Fern, 25, started out with just £800 in her pocket, zero staff and a burning ambition to grow her business. That grit, determination and entrepreneurial mind-set paid off as UNEEK Staffing has grown into a flourishing business with a projected turnover of more than £500k, a database of over 4,000 staff and a list of clients running the length and breadth of the country from football clubs, racecourses, gyms, exhibitions, automotive, retail, food and drink brands, charities, shopping centres, pop up shops, and roadshows to name a few.

Having already been named a Duke of York Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018, the first-class Business Management graduate is thrilled by the latest accolade.

She said: “I feel honoured to be recognised for making waves in the business world. I am so grateful to have made the list as one of the UK’s top Female Entrepreneurs. Credit always to everyone I work with.”

She added: “I am very ambitious and always want to operate in an innovative and memorable way across communities and within business to help inspire others.”

Fern moved into new premises in Team Valley, Gateshead, last year, to cope with the business growth, having been given her start by the Enterprise Place, the University of Sunderland’s business support facility which gave her access to their co-working office space in Hope Street Xchange, Sunderland’s centre for enterprise and innovation.

Laura Foster, Enterprise Place Manager, said: “Since joining the Enterprise Place in 2017, we’ve seen Fern go from strength-to-strength. She has shown determination and passion and is an inspirational example of a graduate entrepreneur. She fully deserves this latest success, being named among the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs and we have every confidence her business will continue to flourish.”

Fern also applied for and won a £2,500 University DOSH (Development Office Scholarships) Futures Fund award to support and enhance her business in order to maximize and open new opportunities to enable growth and stability.

“It has been crazy since I launched UNEEK staffing in 2017,” explained Fern, from Stanley, County Durham. “The high growth of the company was challenging as the way we operate always needs to align but also ensure we are keeping to our core values. Working with all of our amazing staff and clients UK wide has been a blessing.”

She added: “My knowledge of dealing with clients and situations have developed so much, I’ve had to learn everything pretty quickly. I even had to develop my own website from scratch, as funds were tight when I first started out, but it’s been all worth it. Luckily I could draw on all the expertise around the Enterprise Place which has been invaluable.

“I’m so pleased I took the plunge and had the confidence to go out and grow my own business.”

Explaining how she has been managing her business during the Covid 19 lockdown, she says: “We have been offering our digital services such as virtual business workshops, CV writing service, online marketing, and forward planning client events for lockdown easing.”

What advice can she offer other entrepreneurs just starting out?

“Do something you’re passionate about, ensure you put time and hard work into it,” she says. “Getting a business mentor is a great way to have someone for knowledge and advice. Gain support from a local Business Hub.”

Along with running her business, Fern is also a model and public speaker in the business world, regularly booked UK-wide for events, seminars, workshops, university talks and interviews delivering on a range of topics.

She currently holds the Miss Natural Beauty 19/20 award and undertakes various modelling bookings for business promotions, clothing boutiques, catwalk and fashion shoots.