A skateboard enthusiast has overcome serious illness to set the wheels in motion for a new business venture.
Paul Morales, 35, from Cullercoats, North Tyneside is now on a roll with his skateboard enterprise, which includes a shop in Park View, Whitley Bay, school demonstration team and skateboarding lessons.
Morales was first inspired to take up his passion after watching the film Back To The Future when he was younger.
He said: “I took up skateboarding more than 20 years ago now. I used to write to the council and ask them to build skateparks, but they never did back then. Now though there are plenty of parks in the region and around the country.”
Morales pointed to the growing popularity of Links Skate Park in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.
However it wasn’t an easy start and his business launch suffered a setback after he was struck down with septicaemia. He remained critically ill in hospital for several weeks.
Morales said: “It was really touch and go. One minute I was fit as a fiddle decorating the shop ready for opening, the next, I was fighting for my life. My family were told to prepare for the worst. I’m really lucky to have made a full recovery.
“My friends really rallied around while I was in hospital though and they set to work painting and decorating the shop. I can’t thank them enough.”
Now fully recovered, the entrepreneur is back on board with his business plans having secured a £7,000 loan from Gateshead-based Transmit Start-Ups, which specialises in loans for young creative entrepreneurs between 18 and 30.
Morales was able to get the funding after Transmit joined the Government Entrepreneurs’ Pilot Scheme enabling thirty-something business owners the chance to secure the same funding as their younger counterparts. To date Transmit has helped 100 entrepreneurs since its launch in May.
Morales, who has two children, Lola, eight, and Eva, three, said: “It is fantastic to have this financial support from Transmit Start-Ups. The loan will help me stock the shop and develop the website so I can attract clients from all over the country.
“As I have never been self-employed before the business mentoring will also be extremely beneficial.”
The Whitley Bay Skate Shop, which opened in June this year, sells skatewear and boards and caters for retro and vintage skateboards and clothing with retro roller boots to coincide with the revival of roller discos in the North East.
Morales added: “Ideally I hope the shop’s turnover will be around around the £20,000 mark at the end of the first year with a healthy profit. I’d love to launch another shop in a unit in the Dome in Whitley Bay, that would be my ideal location.
“Hopefully if the shop takes off here in the North East, the brand may be able to be rolled out nationally to skateboarding clubs across the country.”
Morales is currently sponsoring local skaters and has further plans to help children skate more safely.
Next summer he plans to launch a skateboarding competition on the Links skate park as well as trips to other parks around the region.
Damian Baetens, director, Transmit Start-Ups said: “Paul has overcome terrible personal challenges to launch his business.
“His grit and determination to succeed is clearly shown in the fact that he has been able to open his shop and has ambitious plans for further development. The market for skateboards and accessories seems to be booming at present so it is a perfect time to launch.”