Rowing to Business Success ~ Jody Fletcher (née Patrick, Ch, 1996)

I’m not sure I’ll ever forget my first day at College. I’d always been a real ‘home bird’. I have a close relationship with my parents and siblings so, despite the excitement about

my new adventures, I clearly remember standing in the window watching my mother drive away with an enormous lump in my throat, trying – without success – to hold back the tears. What had I done? Why did I want this so much! Could I run fast enough to catch her up?

Thankfully this feeling didn’t last long. My new roommate soon arrived and life at College began! Some stand out memories are the fun and friendships, doing the make up for ‘The Scottish Play’, spending time visiting Vera during community service (who had a love for Daniel O’Donnell; she was always trying – unsuccessfully I may add – to convert us to fans), and the evening walks down Bath Road. The majority of my memories, however, are centred around the College Boat Club.

I was the most unlikely rower. At 5’5” I simply don’t have the leverage, but what I lacked in height I made up for in passion. I loved rowing; being on the water, the sense of achievement, the laughs, the teamwork, but most of all I loved the Regattas! What a great day out they were with the mix of ages and abilities all cheering each other on.

After College I went to the University of Newcastle to read Food Marketing. I loved the course and really ‘found me.’ My first job was as Marketing Co-ordinator in a builders’ and plumbers’ merchant (it may not sound glamorous but it did involve three cruises, including one in the Caribbean, so I certainly wasn’t complaining!) before moving to a small high street recruitment agency.

There I was lucky to work under an inspirational leader from whom I learned all aspects of running a small business and gained the confidence to set up my own business. 2008 was a busy year! I left the recruitment agency, got married, and set up Chilli Promotional Products which I can honestly say is a decision I have never regretted. Setting up a business from scratch was not easy, but it’s been so much fun.

Chilli Promotional Products allows me to be a completely authentic version of me, and to fit my career around my family. I love helping businesses to become and remain visible and to attract new customers and staff or thank existing ones with carefully selected branded merchandise. We have an incredible customer base working with great clients and suppliers, many of whom have become friends over the years.

I’ve always had a stubborn streak and I love the fact that, as my own boss, nobody tells me what to do, and the self-motivation and self-discipline I first learned at College comes into its own almost every day.

I’d love to reconnect with more OCs and hear what everyone is up to!
[email protected]

[Jody’s company, Chilli Promotional Products, produces some fantastic Cheltonian Society merchandise, with more ideas in the pipeline.]