From education to employment


hands of someone on laptop

An apprenticeship through Acacia Training, an independent training provider, has enabled their former Assessor, Danielle Dunn, to launch her own cosmetics business, Divine Box, at the height of lockdown, going on to achieve a £200k turnover in the last 12 months. 

While working at Acacia Training, Danielle decided to enrol on a Level 5 Apprenticeship in Ops Management via a course provided by her employer. The initial push to start her apprenticeship came from an interest in learning more about the inner workings of a business, but came with extra benefits of experience of managing the business in a more ‘hands off’ management capacity, giving her the confidence to go self-employed, even during lockdown. 

“The main skill that I learned from my apprenticeship was confidence and business planning. I implemented this into my work and completed a mock one, which helped me to understand and gain the confidence to go for it and launch Divine Box”, says Danielle. 

Divine Box specialises in luxurious handmade toiletries such as themed bath bombs, bubble bars, bath rocks, bath powder, soaps, and candles, with popular ranges including Stranger Things, and its best seller, toilet bombs (bath bombs for the toilet).

As a result of people being unable or feeling nervous to shop in person, there was a huge increase in online shopping, especially with the number of people placed on furlough, which helped the fast growth of Divine Box. 

Danielle said, “I never expected Divine Box to grow how it did and just wanted it to be a little extra cash earner. It was the feedback from customers and demand for our products that really made me think that I’d created something amazing here. I would have never left my career, only for this business. I am so glad I did though as the business has literally been built from nothing, with no outside help or advice, during a pandemic. It’s something I feel massively proud of.”

Going self-employed during the pandemic came with its challenges, where Danielle has to move premises into her own home due to restrictions, coping with postal and supply issues, staff shortages and desolate market places. While revenue has been rocketing for Divine Box, in the last six months, there have been drastic and unforeseen changes within the business, with ingredient costs increasing by up to 270%. 

“Even after lockdown and the pandemic, the after-effects of the pandemic are hitting us hard now, probably harder than during it. Though we have encountered these issues we have stuck with our original prices. We believe that with everybody feeling these temporary increases in living, people still deserve their luxuries for their mental health and to take that 5 minutes to themselves after the stress of life.

“If it wasn’t for starting during a pandemic, I truly don’t think I’d be as strong as a business owner as I am right now. As much as it’s been one thing after another for us, I’m still extremely grateful to have started and experienced the challenges that I have so early on. I really feel that nothing could stop me now.” Danielle stated. 

In the last nine months, more than 692,900 learners have enrolled in apprenticeships, and research by CIPD reports that more than half of graduates (52%) wish they had done an apprenticeship instead of a degree. 

On her awareness of apprenticeships, Danielle commented:

‘Due to working with Acacia Training, I was aware of the many and great benefits of Apprenticeships. I have always thought that they are massively important. You really get to develop as a person and grow in areas you didn’t know you could. Thanks to Apprenticeships, there is always an opportunity to learn, whatever field or industry it might be in.’

Acacia Training has been supporting the development of adult learners for more than 20 years, via apprenticeships, traineeships and other educational programmes, with specialisms in Adult Health & Social Care, Children & Young People’s Services, Dental Nursing, Beauty, Sport & Fitness, Adult Education & Training and Business, Management & Digital. 


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