In the summer of 2009 an administrative mix-up put Helen Knowles out of a job promoting wildlife in Cumbria.
Unable to find anything else, other than stacking shelves on the Tesco night shift, she decided to plough all her energies into turning her hobby into a source of income. She created Tinnisburn Plants.
Always a keen gardener with artistic flair, Helen loved discovering and nurturing plants which the mainstream garden centres shunned. In the 1990s, straight after university, she'd set up her own garden centre on a plot of land behind the village shop.
Unfortunately, on that occasion, location was her downfall. On a small country road in southern Scotland, miles from the nearest town and with very little passing trade, the venture foundered. Which was why Helen had sought more conventional employment. She continued growing plants as a hobby and covered some of the costs by selling them at local fairs and markets.
But now, in 2009, she determined to give it another go. But this time she would focus on raising plants on the family smallholding and increase her sales activity. Her calendar filled with producers' markets, craft shows, fetes and fairs.
She began to develop a reputation as someone who supplied garden plants that you couldn't find anywhere else, because they were that bit harder to propagate. While the big garden centres focus on easy to grow plants which offer more profit, enthusiast growers like Helen seek out and nurture varieties that have fallen from favour because they're not so easy to produce in large numbers.
Last year Helen received an invitation for Tinnisburn Plants to have a stand at Gardening Scotland 2011, the premier gardening event north of the border. Working with a shoestring budget, she put together a stunning display which won her a Silver Medal - a huge achievement for someone so new to the business.
Tinnisburn Plants will carry on growing and selling plants in the Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway region. Helen's hobby is finally on the way to developing into a sustainable business and she's looking forward to more success in the future.
I must declare a personal interest in this story. Helen Knowles is my sister, and she's also one of those UK entrepreneurs who have taken on the challenge of creating their own business in the face of adversity.