Merton Council gave a Mitcham welcome to former Dragon’s Den contestant and successful entrepreneur, Rachel Lowe as she formally opened the revamped market yesterday (Thursday 5 March).
Market Square was abuzz with market stallholders selling their wares and local people joining in the celebrations. To mark the opening Rachel cut a cake especially baked for the occasion by local caterer, Shamim Haarhoff. The delicious sponge cake was shared out to residents as part of the launch festivities.
Rachel Lowe is the inventor of the board game ‘Destination’, and is an inspiring example of an enterprising person who has become immensely successful. Her product is now stocked in shops such as Hamleys and is one of the best selling board games in the UK.
At the launch Merton Council was on hand with top tips from Mitcham Means Business for all budding entrepreneurs on how to set up a business. Information on how to make the most of your CV and how to write a job application for maximum impact was also available. Visitors to the launch were able to find out about adult education classes and skills building initiatives run by the council too.
Rachel Lowe said: ‘It’s very appropriate to be opening Mitcham Market today as I sold my first game Destination Portsmouth from a market stall. The success of my business is largely down to the support I had from family, friends and local businesses in the early days. The businesses funded the development of the game by sponsoring their place on the game board. This was my first taste of earning hard cash for all the effort I had put in to getting the game to market.
“Entrepreneurship and local businesses should be cherished as they are the lifeblood of a community. By supporting our stallholders we are supporting the local economy which makes for a vibrant community where success and prosperity are valued. I would say to anyone wanting to start a business, no matter what kind, follow your dream and make it work. Dragon’s Den was a great experience for me even though the dragons didn’t want to back my idea. It made me more determined than ever to make my idea work. Now my business is going from strength to strength and I haven’t looked back. Developing your own business is never easy, especially in times of recession. It is a challenge, but entrepreneurial spirit and hard work carry you through.”
Flower stallholder Alan Hunt said: “I love the fact that all the stalls will be together now. There’s a real buzz about the place and all our customers know where to come if they want quality products and good prices. Mitcham’s got a lot to offer and it’s just getting better and better.”
Merton Council cabinet member for regeneration Councillor Diane Neil Mills said: ‘I am really proud to be opening the market today. It is a real credit to Mitcham and the borough as a whole. This market is at the heart of Mitcham. Looking to the future, we want to make Mitcham, and more broadly, Merton, proud of its business credentials and let everyone know what a great place it is to do business.’
Note to editors
Rachel Lowe used to drive a cab around the streets of Portsmouth to support her two young children. While on a shift Rachel had the idea for a board game called Destination. The player’s pieces are miniature taxis and the idea of the game is to collect fares from famous destinations across the city.
Rachel later enrolled on a law with business degree at the University of Portsmouth. There she entered her game idea in the design category of an Enterprise Challenge at the Student Union. She won and used the money to make a prototype. Rachel sent it to major toy companies but her idea was rejected. She decided to set up her own company RTL Games. She then took part in BBC2’s Dragon’s Den, but the dragons didn’t take to her idea either. Undeterred, Rachel launched Destination London in Hamleys and the stock that had been ordered sold out by 5pm on the first day.
There are now 21 editions of Destination including Destination New York and Destination Paris.
Rachel is also working with Walt Disney on her first junior edition – Destination Animation, which features characters from Disney Pixar films including Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.
She recently won the prestigious Natwest Everywoman Award and has also received recognition from Buckingham Palace.