Grace is a wonderful example of what can be achieved if you follow your passion. She sought advice and funding, when needed, but has worked incredibly hard to become a successful businesswoman. It’s been an honour to support her on her journey so far and I look forward to our work together moving forward.
Primas’ corporate and commercial team works with a range of small business owners and entrepreneurs, supporting them along their business journey. From investment and funding to growth strategies and commercial agreements, the Primas team are a helping hand to so many young businesses looking to flourish.
One of these entrepreneurs is Grace Vella, who grew up in Skelmersdale and had a keen interest in football from an early age. Encouraged by her parents, she started her sporting career at eight years old, playing for local grassroots clubs before winning a place at Liverpool Football Club at the age of 13 and then transferring to Manchester City women’s reserves at the age of 18. A talented midfielder, Grace was a driving force for her teams and has now taken that same spirited approach to the world of business and launched MissKick!
Grace was inspired to start MissKick whilst she was a university student and realised how little representation women’s football received in mainstream media and in retail stores. As a young footballer, with a passion for the sport, she felt ignored and discouraged and she wanted to change this for future generations.
Using her student loan to initially self-fund her business idea, Grace began MissKick in June 2018 and since then has seen the brand go from strength to strength. Additional funding has so far come from a student pre-accelerator and a Kickstarter funding award from The University of Manchester.
The retail website launched to positive feedback in the community, with Grace hosting pop-up stalls at sporting events to further widen the brand’s recognition and drive interest in her retail offering – which includes t-shirts, hoodies and headbands. She’s also kept strong connections with her former clubs, so she can continue to support young women coming through in the footballing world.
Grace believes that more needs to be done to increase the visibility and support for females in sports. Whilst attitudes are changing, and strong female ambassadors such as Alex Scott are coming through to champion young athletic girls, women’s football is still a sector that is drastically underfunded and often overlooked. That’s why MissKick was created – to provide a better balance and help young girls succeed in a predominately male dominated world.
The brand’s biggest point of difference in the market though, apart from being a brand dedicated to young female footballers, is that a percentage of all MissKick profits goes to girls’ grassroots football in the North West. For those who want to try their hand at the sport, in a positive and secure environment, Grace is also funding a MissKick football academy to allow young girls the chance to benefit from experienced coaching with dedicated professionals, making a direct impact of the lives of those with a passion for football.
Currently, Grace is looking to raise further investment for MissKick and is working with the NatWest Accelerator Programme to drive forward the business and secure commercial deals with the expert advice from and guidance of our corporate and commercial team, in particular, Senior Associate, Dan Rodgerson.
Taking time to understand your legal rights and the laws that apply to your business, is key from an early stage, according to Grace. As a small, emerging business there’s plenty of regulations you’re subject to and receiving the right legal guidance is invaluable. Grace’s work with Primas has helped to ensure that her business is protected, with all the necessary copyrights, principles and policies set in place.
She wants more young women to understand the opportunities that are available to them and to pursue their dreams. Regardless of the industry, or of your gender and age, Grace’s advice is to seek guidance and support from businesses that are supportive of entrepreneurs and to validate and nurture your ideas early on.
Moving forward, especially with the UEFA Women’s Championship coming to England in 2021, Grace has substantial ambitions for MissKick. She wants her brand to become a household name and her retail offering to become available in major high street stores. The way she sees it, she’s up against an open goal, and she’s determined to score big!
A girl with goals
Grace said: “As a young woman in business, I face challenges every day. My gender and age can be seen as barriers to success by some, but I’m very determined to inspire a shift in the industry and encourage other young girls to do the same.
“MissKick was created to empower girls throughout the country. Whether your passion is football, finance, food or something completely different, your gender shouldn’t determine your achievements. More needs to be done to educate girls to see themselves as equals and be confident in their abilities.
“I want to encourage girls to break down boundaries. Become an entrepreneur if you have a fantastic business idea. Have faith in your opinions and have the conviction to follow them through. Look for the right professional support, but remember that you set your own path and you can achieve incredible success if you put your mind and heart to it!”
Dan Rodgerson, Senior Associate at Primas, has supported Grace with advice for MissKick and commented: “It’s encouraging to see such an ambitious young woman tackling gender bias in both the football and business worlds.
“Grace is a wonderful example of what can be achieved if you follow your passion. She sought advice and funding, when needed, but has worked incredibly hard to become a successful businesswoman. It’s been an honour to support her on her journey so far and I look forward to our work together moving forward, as MissKick grows and becomes a household name for aspiring footballers up and down the country.”