AN Oxford entrepreneur who once appeared on Dragon's Den has won a place on a mentoring program for small companies wanting to establish their name in UK retail.

Liz Beswick, co-founder of gin brand Collagin, is working with mentor Connie Nam, founder and CEO of British jewellery brand Astrid & Miyu (A&M) to navigate the current Covid-19 crisis and beyond.

She said: "The program is an example of something good to come out of a rubbish time for many small businesses."

The Business Accelerator Programme follows three 'core pillars' for success with the first month focused on developing the vision of the businesses and long-term goals.

The second month will be centred on brand positioning, go-to market strategies and financial planning; while the final third will look at refining financial reporting.


Ms Beswick will have a virtual one-to-one session with Ms Nam each month with a bespoke programme established to help each business reach its maximum potential.

Ex-investment banker and entrepreneur Ms Nam launched A&M alone from her kitchen table eight years ago and now runs a business with six retails stores, a turnover of £10m and 80 staff.

Collagin is one of three successful businesses chosen for the programme.

Ms Beswick said: “When I saw this initiative from Astrid & Miyu I jumped at the chance to be involved.

"We feel very lucky to be working with a founder who we really respect and admire, particularly as we model our gin brand on fashion and lifestyle brands, something that is unusual for our industry.

"By generously offering up her time, contacts and skills, Connie is not only opening doors for us but also changing our mindset, approach and goals with a fresh, outsider’s view on our business."