A BUSINESSWOMAN who beat the bullies and started her own firm has won a top award.
Emma Reilly struggled for years when she developed depression after being targeted by schoolyard tormentors.
The 31-year-old says she was shy at school and as a result suffered from depression and anxiety.
“It was a real battle,” said Emma. “It was always in the back of my mind that something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t until a year ago I was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum.”
Emma left Sacred Heart School, in Fenham, to study at Sunderland University but soon found things becoming too much for her.
“I couldn’t cope,” she said. “I had a bit of a breakdown.”
With few prospects, Emma moved back to her parents’ house, in Chapel House, Newcastle, and spent the next year unemployed and feeling hopeless and isolated.
However, she was still determined to make the most of life, and enrolled on a Media Production course at Northumbria University. Having always wanted to work in a creative environment, on graduation she decided start her own design company.
She contacted The Prince’s Trust and enrolled on the Enterprise Programme, a scheme for young people interested in exploring their self-employment options.
The course gave Emma an understanding of basic business principles. She additionally received a £1,500 loan and significant help and support from a Prince’s Trust business mentor in getting her company off the ground.
Now she runs her own company, The League of Pixels, which specialises in the design and production of a wide range of printed T-shirts, stationery and websites. The business has already exceeded expectations and Emma plans to expand next year with a range of urban apparel.
“It’s really exciting,” said Emma. “My clients are mainly in the North East but I’m starting to get inquiries from the South now.
“It’s a great feeling to be running my own business and being creative. Everything I’ve been through means I can offer a different perspective so it actually helps me.”
Still in the process of overcoming her challenges, Emma is keen to get her story across to other young people in similar situations. She has recently applied to become a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador.
And her efforts were recognised earlier this week when she was crowned winner of the RBS Enterprise Award at The Prince’s Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards, which were held at The Sage in Gateshead. Thom Kenrick, from RBS Group, said: “I’d like to congratulate Emma on behalf of all at RBS for winning this award.
“She has shown true entrepreneurial talent and I’d like to wish her all the best for what I imagine will be a very successful future.”
For more information on Emma’s business, visit www.leagueofpixels.co.uk