Graduate Takes ‘UNEEK’ Approach To First Business

Fern Snailham’s lightbulb moment to launch her own business came during the year she spent freelancing across the UK promoting new products and raising brand awareness.

Still uncertain whether a university degree was what she wanted after finishing a childcare course at college, the 23-year-old took a year out promoting everything from supermarket products to cars. The work offered Fern the freedom and flexibility of being her own boss but she decided she needed the business qualifications to support those ambitions.

Fast forward three years later and within days of graduating with a first-class Business Management degree from the University of Sunderland, Fern began setting up her very own promotional staffing agency – UNEEK Staffing. With the support of her university lecturers, Fern secured membership with the Enterprise Place, the University’s business support facility which gives her access to their co-working office space in Hope Street Xchange, the University’s new centre for enterprise and innovation.

Fern, from Stanley, County Durham, explained: “After college I decided to take some time to work freelance within promotions nationally, that’s when I decided I wanted to start my own agency and applied to study Business Management, to develop my knowledge base and experience, supported by the qualifications. I loved the course and embraced every opportunity that came my way, I had a goal in mind when I started and I never veered away from what I wanted to achieve.”

Sunderland University graduate Fern Snailham from Uneek Staffing at Hope Street XChange in Sunderland Picture: DAVID WOOD

She said: “I have no doubts about my decision, I just feel motivated and excited by this opportunity. I’m also very grateful for all the advice and support I’ve been given through the Enterprise Place, I couldn’t ask for a better location.”

Fern is now in the process of building up an in-house database of hand-picked, reliable promotional staff, covering the UK. She plans to match personalities to brands to convey key messages, and deliver a positive, memorable brand experience.

She says: “All our staff will be vetted, and we’ll hold audition days up and down the country. When I worked in this industry, I came across situations in which some agencies would send anyone to promote the products, but who weren’t necessarily right for the role, the personality and the brand were just completely off. We want to make sure we match people’s personalities to the correct brand, to make sure it’s the correct fit for the campaign.”

Dr Derek Watson, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism, commented: “Our business programmes at the University of Sunderland are specifically designed to not only provide students with essential business insights and live commercial experiences but also to imbue them with a ‘can do attitude’ in order to seek a meaningful career path.

“Fern is a natural entrepreneur but freely admits our degree programme has provided an essential business grounding to channel her creativeness into a successful business model. I will certainly be asking Fern to share her success with our student community”.

Laura Foster, Enterprise Place Manager, said: “Since joining the Enterprise Place in June, we’ve seen Fern go from strength-to-strength. She has shown determination and passion and is an inspirational example of a graduate entrepreneur. We have confidence in her vision of launching and growing her own successful business, right in the heart of the city centre.”

For more information on UNEEK Staffing, go to:

The Internships and Enterprise project is receiving up to £2,207,656 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. ‌The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. ‌Established by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

The Enterprise Place offers students and graduates the opportunity of up to 12-months free membership and access to:

  • Professional, co-working office space in Hope Street Xchange

  • Expert one-to-one business advice

  • A place on our Start-Up-Skills course

  • Workshops, events and networking

  • Commercial editing software

  • Dedicated business development support team

  • The opportunity to join a community of entrepreneurs

For more information about the Enterprise Place, go to:

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