Sunderland business woman wins TTR Barnes start-up stars competition after defying odds to launch retail business.

Local businesswoman Lynsey Kimmitt is celebrating after winning the “Start-up Stars” competition, run by accountancy firm TTR Barnes.

Lynsey’s entry not only impressed for her business’ unique multi-channel approach but also for her perseverance to succeed despite diagnosis of a rare eye condition that left her temporarily blind and with long-term eye problems.

Lynsey Kimmitt and Natalie Newton

Lynsey Kimmitt and Natalie Newton

In May 2015 mum-of-two Lynsey was diagnosed with bi-lateral posterior scleritis, which left her temporarily blind and unable to work as a media sales executive.

Following diagnosis of her illness, work choices were limited due to her lack of vision and the family were struggling financially.  It was from this point that Lynsey felt inspired to start her own business.  “I wanted to do something that not only offered me the flexibility to work within the constraints of my condition, but also had the opportunity to generate real income for my family and would be something I would enjoy doing.”  She sought assistance from East Durham Business Service and received grants and funding with which to launch her business at the end of 2015, which has now grown to both an online and offline offering.

Lynsey recently entered the TTR Barnes Start-Up Stars competition, launched in May 2016, that aimed to find a local start-up business that had set itself apart from its competitors and showed high potential for success.  The prize includes a year’s professional business support, incorporating free accounting services, business advisor sessions, bookkeeping software and virtual office space at North East BIC.

Natalie Newton, Tax and Payroll Manager at TTR Barnes said, “We wanted to identify and support a new business that, with the right help, could thrive and make a positive contribution to the local economy.  We know the low success rates typically seen with start-up businesses, and this is often just down to bad financial or business strategy decision-making rather than having the wrong product or service.”

The TTR Barnes’ judging panel was impressed by Lynsey Kimmit’s omni-channel approach to her accessories retail business, Carry and Sole.  Lynsey’s business sells handbags, shoes, purses and accessories through various sales channels; online at; from her retail outlet in Murton; and through a series of pop-up shops at local retail parks, functions and events.

Natalie Newton added, “Lynsey had obviously carefully considered her market, recognising that the diversity of her market segments required a multi-sales channel approach, combining both online and offline outlets that went deep into the heart of her target communities.  We felt that this made her stand out from the other entrants.  Lynsey’s success is made even more remarkable by the personal circumstances she has overcome to realise her dream of launching her own business. ”

Lynsey said, “I am excited and happy to have won the start-up stars competition.  With additional support, advice and software from TTR Barnes, and the virtual office space from the BIC, I will be able to take my business to the next level!”


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