Name: Karen Gibb.

Age: 31.

What is your business called?

Mind Marvels Limited.

Where is it based?

Strathaven, South Lanarkshire but work all over Scotland.

What services does it offer?

We help young people from the age of three to late teens on their emotional wellbeing. Many can have big feelings, anxiety or low confidence and our sessions aim to equip them with ‘skills for life’- with a learning framework that provides positive pathways through to adulthood. Our sessions are based on the NHS 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing: Learn, Move, Connect, Mindful and Be Kind. Using group work and one-to-one sessions, we employ calming strategies and use practical tools, such as breathing and mindfulness, to help them through nursery and school and at home with their families. We provide staff training and work with charities and third sector organisations, most recently the Brownies and Who Cares Scotland. We also offer consultancy work for private companies with an interest in supporting youth wellbeing and mental health.

To whom does it sell?

Local councils, nurseries, schools, social work, charities and third sector, community groups, and families.

What is its turnover?

We are a new, small but slowly growing business. We have worked with many schools and helped over two thousand children so far. Our projected turnover for the end of next year is £100,000.

How many employees?

I am the only paid employee for now but I have plans to expand! This has been an absolute labour of love for me, but there are many people who help me behind the scenes. Unsung heroes if you like. Family, friends and my business mentors. Without their support, this would have seemed impossible.

When was it formed?

2019, just before Covid-19. That was a really stressful time for me, but I learned so much. It forced me to be brave and put myself out there instead of hiding behind the brand. I started taking part in Facebook lives and online business networking to raise the profile of Mind Marvels. It was terrifying at the time, but I teach young people to reach out of their comfort zones, so I had to do the same!

Why did you take the plunge?

Quite simply, because of my ‘why’in life, which, I decided, is to help others, especially young people. My own journey with anxiety began in childhood and continued until I became an adult, although I didn’t realise what it was until late on in my 20s. I decided it would be worthwhile to help others understand their own mental health as prevention is always better than cure.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was a teacher of Modern Studies, working in behavioural units and within social work. I loved being a teacher, but I didn’t always feel like I made a direct difference to young people. Often admin would take up a lot of time. I was very efficient at the paperwork side of things which led me to thinking about starting a business. It was never the intention to be a businesswoman - I am not sure I ever had the confidence, but it felt natural at the time to try. Ultimately, I decided that I could try to be my own boss and I was fortunate enough to have supply teaching as a backup.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I was very lucky to have minimal start-up costs. I didn’t require an office or many resources. The local rotary club kindly donated £200, which allowed me to buy small resources that I did need, like a breathing ball as a prop and help with printing costs.

What was your biggest break?

My proudest moment was landing a contract with an Autism charity to work directly with young people and their families. This felt huge as I had worked so hard promoting the business to reach this level of recognition.

What was your worst moment?

When Covid happened, I lost a lot of planned work and I took a big financial hit. When I discovered I was ineligible for any government support, as I was a newly limited company, I took this very personally. However, this spiralled for me into a set of circumstances which ultimately changed my life for the better, personally and professionally. I was able to reassess my life, the business and understand what was really important to me. Money does not equate to ultimate happiness in the end.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I like to be in control of my working day and it’s an absolute privilege to be able to decide what to do each day. I enjoy helping others, especially reading or hearing all the positive reviews from young people who have been supported by Mind Marvels.

What do you least enjoy?

Numbers and pricing. I have vivid memories as a child not being able to understand basic figures and this has led to a bit of a mental block for me. I am very fortunate that my partner, Steven, is an accountant and keeps me on track!

What are your ambitions for the firm?

I would love Mind Marvels to become global helping young people across the world.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Delegating tasks is crucial and being able to step back from the business to be reflective is critical to surviving as a small business. Sometimes we can jump right in and not want to ask for advice or help. I’ve realised early on that it is always okay to ask for support. You will always find it too when you surround yourself with the right kind of people who want to help. That is a two-way street though - I always try to support others too. Networking is so valuable for visibility and LinkedIn has been pivotal for making those vital business connections - some of whom are now genuine friends too.

How do you relax?

Laughter! Seeing the funny side or finding humour in each day helps me to destress. I am slightly obsessed with crime podcasts and I love the murder mystery documentaries on Netflix. True escapism! I have started a ‘Miracle Morning’ routine where I meditate, exercise and goal set each morning very early. This helps clear my mind and keeps me mentally and physically well. In my profession, it is so important to practise what you preach!