VBSS Mentor Spotlight: Corinna Hartwig

A creative and empathetic mentoring approach helps artisan crafts business to ‘think out of the box’ and grow confidently.

The Volunteer Business Support Scheme (VBSS) has attracted many high calibre mentors to its network since it was launched in June 2020 by the Hertfordshire Growth Hub in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire and powered by the Hertfordshire LEP. This includes Corinna Hartwig, who has been a stalwart of the scheme, mentoring over 15 businesses since it launched in June 2020.

Corinna Hartwig is an accomplished business advisor with expertise in creative strategy and SME marketing. She has worked and lived in Germany, France and the UK and comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. She has herself set up and successfully run several of her own companies and is able to tap into her extensive experience to effectively support the businesses she mentors. Through the scheme, she has supported a diverse range of Hertfordshire small businesses and has equipped them with the confidence to think creatively and explore solutions to a range of business dilemmas.

One business that has benefited from Corinna’s expertise was Made Unique, a Community Interest Company (CIC) showcasing local artisans and their creative skills. Borne out of a passion to champion the work of craft artists and provide them with a 'shop window’, founder Ruth Moffat launched Made Unique during Christmas 2019, before the pandemic hit.

Ruth’s motivation to start her business was to build a creative community, and a marketplace for customers who value the ethos and aesthetic of unique handmade items, connecting them to the local artist-makers and their story. However, as the business grew, Ruth found herself working seven days a week, whilst struggling to balance work and family life. Seeking answers to questions such as ‘what is my business, what is its purpose?’, Ruth spent time online researching business support providers and seeking solutions that eventually led her to discover the Volunteer Business Support Scheme. Once Ruth registered her interest, she was matched with Corinna.

With a Master’s degree in Media Marketing and experience as a senior business adviser, Corinna likes to think ‘outside the box’ and be creative. She was a great match and an ideal mentor for Made Unique. Corinna shared her practical experience in marketing, business planning, customer care and social media; and quickly became an indispensable sounding board for Ruth:

Corinna has been really brilliant. Rather than just helping me answer a few specific questions she’s been helping me reassess the whole company and has introduced me to lots of helpful tools as well as sharing her wisdom with me! It’s been so much more than I could have hoped for.

Ruth Moffat, Founder of Made Unique

Mentee, Volunteer Business Support Scheme

During the course of six 1:2:1 mentoring sessions, Corinna helped Ruth to focus on the bigger picture, using a more strategic approach to tackle Made Unique’s business model. Through sharing her own experience, Corinna was also able to empathise with Ruth’s challenge of juggling a business, whilst raising a family.

In addition, through a successful mentoring partnership, Ruth has been able to make use of Corinna’s network and was connected to an events expert who is now also supporting her.

"The scheme recognises that all businesses work differently and will be facing unique challenges so you are paired up with a mentor who will work with you as an individual. For Made Unique it’s been such a valuable resource and I’d really recommend it to other business owners. Ruth's vulnerability and the social purpose of her early stage, Social Enterprise makes her a joy to work with and it is great to see her and her business growing in confidence. Hertfordshire needs more businesses like hers.” – Corinna Hartwig.

Made Unique is just one example of the many businesses Corinna has supported to date through the scheme. Corinna also highlights the value of the experience for mentors like herself. She was inspired by the mentees, and all the business owners and entrepreneurs who are trying to create businesses with a social purpose.

The Volunteer Business Support Scheme has been crucial to my own growth as a business owner this year. It has been a really, really rewarding experience. During the lockdowns I wanted to feel connected to businesses. It was really important for me to be able to help businesses ‘do better business’ across Hertfordshire and the scheme certainly allowed me to make my small contribution. Thank you.

Corinna Hartwig

Mentor, Volunteer Business Support Scheme

For answers to your business challenges and access to experienced mentors to help you grow your business, look no further.

Join today for free impartial business advice. Registration closes November 2021. If you have any questions about the scheme or would like help registering, please contact us at businesssupporters@herts.ac.uk or 07725 477278 and we’ll be happy to help you.