Rewind to April 2020 and myself (Briony) was just finishing the second year of my Animal Science degree. I had planned to apply for a veterinary medicine degree in the autumn, however, I faced a big problem! As I was already studying for a degree, it meant I would have to self-fund a 4-to-5-year veterinary medicine degree. I knew I needed to find a way to be able to self-fund this as I have worked extremely hard to get the grades and work experience to be able to apply. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I was unfortunately out of work and all my work experience placements had been cancelled (apart from 1 amazing week at The Wildwood Trust!) so I had to get thinking of how I can save some money! 

Since a young age, I have always been creative and loved sewing! So, I got my sewing machine back out and began playing around with different items such as scrunchies, and bandanas! Along with the pandemic, there soon came a huge demand for face masks so I quickly learnt how to sew face masks. After a couple of weeks of setting the business up, Herd & Healy was born! I spent the summer of 2020, mainly at my sewing machine making a mixture of face masks and scrunchies, whilst experimenting with resin and felting. As much as I loved making all the different face masks and scrunchies and experimenting with new art forms, I always knew I wanted to go into clothing as that has always been a childhood dream of mine so that became my next business goal!

I began the final year of my degree in September 2020, where I returned to work on my university’s farm and was back to volunteering in the student union. I carried on Herd & Healy in my spare time whilst studying and working. I applied for 4 veterinary medicine degrees in the October and the long wait to find out whether or not I would receive interviews had begun! In the meanwhile, alongside planning and writing my dissertation, I started to look into purchasing a Cricut machine to be able to add my logo onto clothing and managed to buy my first machine in the Black Friday sales! I was provided the chance to complete an interview for the Royal Veterinary College accelerated veterinary medicine degree (my dream veterinary university and course!) just before Christmas and then had to wait until the spring to find out the results.

During my Christmas holidays, I started to experiment with clothing, starting with T-shirts, all in burgundy to match our brand colours. Come January 2021, I released the burgundy clothing range which became a huge success and had many people asking for more colours! Over the following months, I released more clothing items and continued to expand Herd & Healy whilst still at home due to the pandemic! I sadly found out, that I hadn’t been given a place in any of the veterinary medicine degrees I had applied for in the March, but I returned to university after the second lockdown and in the May, I completed my Animal Science degree with a 2:1 with Honours and received a student spotlight award for Enterprise Excellence for my volunteering, career progression and for setting up and running Herd & Healy. 

Since leaving university, I have been working multiple part-time jobs; at a care farm, in schools and pubs and running Herd & Healy alongside them. Just over 2 years later since Herd & Healy began and I am just about to attend my first country show with a trade stall at the Kent County Show with Kent Young Farmers. I continue to work with fellow small businesses to create products for the country lifestyle and along the way, raise some money for various charities like Yellow Wellies, The Hospice in the Weald and The British Heart Foundation. As much as I would love to become a vet, for the moment in time, I am taking a career change from veterinary medicine due to the difficulty financing the veterinary medicine degree and have applied to part-time postgraduate degrees locally. But whatever happens, I do know that I cannot wait to see what Herd & Healy has in store for the future!

Written by Briony Balcombe from Herd & Healy