Course studied: BA Creative Writing and English Literature
Graduating year: 2015
Job: Director of Ben Franks Wine/Novel Wines Ltd
Ben has been running Ben Franks Wine, one of Bath's leading independent wine consultancies, and guest-writing for a variety of regional magazines and national wine trade publications. For the past year, he also coordinated the BathSparks programme on a part-time basis, supporting freelance and enterprise activity at Bath Spa University.
He has just founded his own independent wine retail business, Novel Wines, which aspires to be the leading UK retailer in undiscovered wines.
Since I left Bath Spa I have gone from being an aspiring journalist to a specialist in the wine trade, which allows me to use my passion for writing day in, day out. My driving force is that I’ve always wanted to write for a living, but in my journey to get there I’ve discovered a deep interest in the wine world and an equally powerful drive to learn more about it.
I’ve always said, if you’re an amazing writer you can be a journalist who writes about anything and someone will pay for it, but if you’re a good writer, you need to specialise if you want to get paid. Ben Franks Wine has allowed me to establish myself as a notable expert in my field, opened doors to new guest-writing opportunities, and I have become one of Bath’s leading food and drink personalities.
Without my freelancing at Ben Franks Wine I couldn’t be where I am today, ready to launch Novel Wines. Starting your own business is one of the most challenging and exciting things you’ll ever do, but it’s unquestionably one of the most rewarding, both personally and professionally. Even if it goes dreadfully wrong, you’ll learn. You’ll stand back up and you’ll do ten times better next time. For me, the opportunity to forge my own career is the key to my happiness.
"Starting your own business is one of the most challenging and exciting things you’ll ever do, but it’s unquestionably one of the most rewarding, both personally and professionally."
''My advice for current students is ...''
While you’re in the “bubble” of University, just be brave enough to try things. Take risks, be the best you can be, work on that idea that’s been niggling away for months, try selling to people for the first time, and just explore the possibility of entrepreneurship and self-employment. If you have the potential to be your own boss, take it. You’ll never be happier – not necessarily better off, but if you’re doing what you love, you’ll never be happier.
''The best thing about the course I studied was ...''
All about the area, the people and the space to discover what I wanted to do for a living. I enjoyed my course but it was always second best to what University gave to me: time to establish myself, find out what I wanted to do, what I loved to do, and make sure I went for it straight after – even before – graduation.
''I recommend Bath Spa because ...''
It has that balance between course life and the focus on reality, a space to think, down to a tee. It’s like an early introduction to the ideal work/life balance.
Qualifications, experience and achievements
- BA English Literature and Creative Writing (Joint Honours)
- Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level 3 Finalist
- IPSE-QA Freelancer Awards 2016.