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Dotty About Braille was founded in May 2023 by Hayley Kellard

Tell me about yourself and how you got started with Dotty About Braille…

I'm 41, married to Scott, have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Paddy and two tortoises called Ted & Kat. I like reading, walking the dog, watching darts and baking. I work part time for Citizens Advice, and I volunteer for Manchester Sight Loss Council too. 

I decided to teach myself braille after seeing a part time job advertised with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), I did know a little bit and had always been around braille because my mum is totally blind. Within 6 weeks I knew most of it and found I really had a love and passion for it, and then I thought "how can I make this a business?" And that's where the idea for braille greetings cards came about.

The name "Dotty About Braille" came about because my mum joked that I was "mad about braille" because I phoned her multiple times a day to ask questions.

Can you tell us your story before you started your business?

I've actually been self-employed for almost 6 years now, so before opening Dotty About Braille, I mostly worked on a business called Happily Rustic, I closed that in December 2022 for various reasons, supply issues, competitors undercutting me drastically and I'd lost my passion for it. Between that and opening Dotty in May 2023, I tried to launch a couple of different business ideas, but nothing really worked, until I came up with Dotty About Braille.

Can you introduce your business?

Dotty About Braille is an online business specialising in personalised braille greetings cards, transcribed documents, and labels. I have a wide range of greetings cards covering different life events, milestones, and special occasions, including a range of religious cards such as Mazel Tov, Merry Christmas and Happy Diwali cards. I want Dotty to be as diverse and inclusive as possible.

What was the motivation for you to start the business? 

I had taught myself braille during the period when none of my business ideas were working. I had actually applied for a job with the Royal National Institute Of The Blind (RNIB) and you needed to know braille, I only knew a small amount so I spent the next six weeks learning as much as I could.

I found I had a passion for braille, and I thought about how I could turn it into a business idea, and that's when I thought of braille greetings cards. My mum gifted me a Perkins brailler so I could get started. I knew from personal experience that the choices of braille greetings cards were often limited, expensive or not fully accessible, I wanted to change that.

What feedback have you had on Dotty About Braille?

I've received lots of great feedback about the cards, people are loving that they can send thoughtful and accessible braille cards to their loved ones. I've even received an award for them and being shortlisted for other awards.

People are reaching out to me and asking me to be involved with things that I could never have imagined. For example, I have been added to the steering board for The Lilac Review, a government-backed independent review, aiming to tackle the inequality faced by disabled-led businesses and level-up entrepreneurial opportunity across the UK. I was invited down to 10 Downing Street and then after the launch they emailed me and asked me if they could add me to the steering board, which is very exciting.

What kinds of difficulty you have encountered in the process of developing and expanding the business?    

The first difficulty was actually having the equipment to produce the cards, Perkins Braillers are very expensive, £750 - £900, and although my mum had gifted me an old Perkins to get started, it really wasn't up to the job, and I needed to invest in a new one. I did research into grants and struggled to find anything. It was actually somebody at EnterprisingYou who recommended me to the Access To Work scheme, and although even now, six months later, I still haven't received the government grant to pay for the Perkins, I have been approved.

Another difficulty was simply awareness, I still have people saying to me now – "I didn't know you could buy braille birthday cards" for example, so a big challenge was getting my name out there, and letting people know that personalised braille cards do exist.

How did you hear about the EnterprisingYou programme offered by the Business Growth Hub and what kind of service, advice and support did you expect from the Business Growth Hub? 

I first saw the programme on social media. I think if I'm being honest, I thought the workshops would be on a par with the free webinars you see online, where the focus is really on selling a course at the end, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this wasn't the case.


How would you describe the EnterprisingYou programme?  

I really enjoyed the programme, I thought the workshops were fantastic, they provided so much value and the hosts were always really friendly and engaging. I also enjoyed working with Rebecca one of the advisors at GM Business Growth Hub, it was useful having somebody to bounce ideas off and she gave constructive feedback and kept me focused on the job in hand, instead of worrying about the future.

How has EnterprisingYou helped you with your business?

I think it gave me confidence more than anything, I'm not new to business, but with my previous business I never did any proper training, I just winged everything, and I never had much of a plan or goals for the future. Completing the workshops made me realise, I do know what I'm doing, and it also filled some knowledge gaps which helped to make me feel confident in running this business.

Would you recommend the EnterprisingYou programme to others?

Absolutely, I think it's fantastic, especially with it being fully funded. The workshops alone were worth signing up for. I have actually already recommended it to other Etsy sellers in the area. I love that the workshops were mostly online because I wouldn’t have been able to attend a lot of them in person and it was great meeting other local business owners.

What would you say to someone who is considering starting their own business?

I would say try to avoid super saturated markets unless you're offering something unique within that market and have the means to get your message out there. I'd also say don't panic if it doesn't take off in the way you hoped, or even if fails. Not all businesses are meant to be a huge success, some are there just to keep you moving towards the business that will take off. Enjoy the process, absorb as much information as you can, be curious, ask questions and put yourself out there.

What is next for your business?

Things are very exciting for Dotty About Braille at the moment, I'm a finalist in the Gift of the Year awards (in two categories) and I'm receiving a lot of support and recognition for the work I'm doing which is great. My plan for 2024 is to grow the B2B side of things, offer more transcribing work and hopefully make Dotty a full-time job by the end of the yea

You can find out more about Hayley and her business Dotty About Braille here:

Website: Dotty About Braille

Instagram: @dottyaboutbraille

Twitter: @dottyabtbraille


EnterprisingYou is a program delivered by GM Business Growth hub, tailored to support those with a budding business idea, those ready to start a business or established self-employed individuals, freelancers and gig economy workers in Greater Manchester.

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