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Lockdown: A boost for small business

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By Lauren Edwards

During this last year of intermittent lockdowns, it has been a hugely challenging time for people from all walks of society. Employees in the retail and hospitality sector have faced endless closures. For many, furlough became the new normal, whilst office workers had to set up home offices in their children’s bedrooms or at their kitchen tables.

However, for some, lockdown gave them an opportunity to stop and look at their lives in a new way. That a break in their routine meant that they could explore business ideas that perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to focus on before.

A group of seven women, based in Rickling, Essex, joined forces during their lockdown to help each other launch new businesses, or nurture long established companies, and support each other through promotion and creating new opportunities to sell their wares.

My son Tom sold Christmas trees on the run up to the festive season and I saw the opportunity to open a pop-up shop alongside his venture where I could sell my handmade garden ornaments and decorations.

I then invited my friend Caroline to join us with her company Secret Wines, so that she could sell her specialist Artisan wine in the pop-up shop and we could then maximise both our profits.

Lindsey Jones, TERRACE & GARDEN

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2019, 11,503 new companies registered in the UK and then, despite the pandemic, there was a significant increase in 2020 with 13,257 new businesses having launched. As we saw more of the retail giants close their High Street shops or move online, against all odds, independent shops started to adapt and thrive.

I felt like I was chained to my kitchen in the first lockdown, preparing numerous snacks for my constantly hungry sons. Then one day, whilst on the endless food prep, I tried my hand at making candles. My kitchen was then filled with beautiful fragrances and I even employed my son’s on the production line, labelling and packaging in our new family business.

Stephanie Bridgwater, Rickling Candle Company

Yell Business reported that 76 percent of small businesses had to introduce new ways in which to make their companies work in this strange new world, with 34 percent using video communication, 32 percent creating an online booking system and 25 percent offering the option of home delivery services.

Maria Baker of Petals Floristry, started specialising in doorstep deliveries with her handpicked floral creations, and Ana and Tori at Waffle + Co took their business on the road in a vintage horsebox, visiting local food truck events and offering Covid permitted outdoor hospitality.

I have been creating collections of jewellery for over 18 years. During lockdown restrictions, we had to become inventive, offering our customers new ways in which to shop with us and supporting each other’s small businesses.

Emma Goodwin, Emma’s Creations

Collectively, these seven women have helped each other through this bizarre pandemic and have come out the other side with a strong sense of business. Rather than see it as a time to quit, they have used it as an opportunity to come together and boost each other’s companies. They have used social media to advertise for each other, promote themselves as a group and maximise their opportunities.

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