Covid lockdown and regulations lasting from 2020 to 2022 was tough on all of us, it goes without saying. However, to every grey cloud there is a silver lining, and the pandemic gave some people more time to pursue their hobbies, re-think their priorities, and even take a leap into the creative business they’ve always wanted to pursue.
We spoke to a few Pedddle members who started their small business during 2020’s UK lockdown, asking them how they took the leap and gained the confidence to go solo during such a turbulent time for the global economy, how they have found market selling since then, and more.
Read on and you might just be inspired to set up a small business yourself!
Makers that started a business during lockdown
1. ivy and ginger
We spoke to Nicky from sustainable jewellery business ivy and ginger, about what inspired her to start selling. Read our Q&A with her below to find out more about her business ethos and how she juggles family life as a young mum.
When did you start your own business and what made you take the leap?
I started ivy and ginger officially at the start of lockdown in 2020.
I studied Fine Jewellery at University, but only starting using wood at the end of 2019. I wanted to buy fun and eco-friendly jewellery for myself, but struggled to find anything. I started planning ivy and ginger around my full time job, before having my first child that December. After a crazy few months with a newborn, I wanted to get back into painted wooden jewellery but then lockdown happened! I had hoped to officially launch the business at this point, but was unsure whether to wait to see what happened with Covid or not. I decided to launch anyway in the end and built a website, as I wanted to see how things went in terms of whether I could make it into a full time job or not.
Returning to my previous career would mean a lot of shifts and it wasn’t suitable for a flexible working request. I needed my business to work in order to spend as much time as possible with my daughter, and the thought of not being around much due to work gave me the push to really make the jump into running my own business.
It was certainly difficult having a three month old, with no help for childcare, a new business and a husband who had to work from home during lockdown, on top of the other Covid worries. I essentially worked during nap times or in the evening when my daughter had been put to bed!
Have you been to a market yet and if so, how did you find it?
I have and loved it! I love discovering new businesses to buy from and meeting the people behind the brand. Having visited some superb markets, I wasn’t overly concerned with going to a market after Covid with them (mostly) being outside – I think it can only be better than being squished in a supermarket food aisle! Everything was marked out safely and there were plenty of signs, so it felt very comfortable.
How do you champion shopping from other small businesses?
I only use UK based suppliers for everything. I buy Thank You cards from a local Staffordshire artist, my wood is cut by a lovely man in Hampshire, and even my tape comes from a lovely Framers in Barry!
ALL of my supplies are from British suppliers. I truly believe in shopping small and the positive differences it makes to our communities, so it wouldn’t feel right to be asking people to support my dream if I’m not supporting others in turn.
I also love knowing who I’m buying from. The quality is always better and the products are sent with care, rather than being mass packed and shipped from a big warehouse. Another bonus factor in choosing to do this is to reduce any negative environmental impact from imports from overseas.
2. Happy Tote Quotes
Happy Tote Quotes is all about spreading positivity whilst using daily goods, such as tote bags! In this Q&A we explore how they set up their business amidst the lockdown turmoil:
What were you most nervous about with setting a business up during lockdown, and how did you overcome that fear?
I was worried that my very new business would not get off the ground due to the lockdown, with people not having a good reason to buy my products. They are ’nice to have’ but not ’essential’. Everyone was worried about money and people were only buying the essentials.
I used the time in lockdown to learn more about running a small indie business from people with more experience than me. It was also a great opportunity to engage with all of the new online markets that sprung up over the lockdown, which helped me to be seen and engage with customers and other small businesses too.
What helped me overcome some of that fear was how small businesses came together in that period and helped each other out; through events, social media, competitions and also the online markets, and how welcoming this whole creative community really is. It did make a difference that we all went through it together, everyone was so supportive.
To anyone else tempted to take the plunge into running a business, do you have any advice or a positive mantra?
‘I am worthy of my dreams and goals’.
If you have the passion and commitment behind your idea for your new business, then I would highly encourage you to take the plunge. My advice would be to not be afraid to fail. Sometimes we have to fail for us to succeed. This is how we learn and also grow. I also recommend that from the beginning you write down all the little successes you get along the way, like a ‘little win’ book. When you hit those hard days, you can look at your ‘win book’ and remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing and how far you have come.
Never be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people out there that are willing to help you and your business. Be brave as well, and remind yourself that you can do this! Things can become daunting sometimes and it’s definitely worth giving yourself a break when things get too much. Take care of yourself in the process, but enjoy every moment of sharing your passion and your talent with the world. I guarantee there will be someone out there that will love what you do!
How do you champion shopping from other small businesses?
I use British suppliers for all my products. It’s also important that all of my products are environmentally friendly and ethically sourced.
3. Knttd Ldn
How did you set up your business, despite the pandemic striking?
I graduated in 2009 with a Textiles degree (knitting!) and then real world life happened and I needed rent money! 10 years later, I worked my way up in the same company with good money and great people – but just wasn’t what I want to do.
On Christmas Day 2018 I had my little boy. I knew that I didn’t want to go back to an office job and I needed to do something creative, but I just didn’t know where to start. Whilst on maternity leave at the start of 2020, I made my partner a macramé plant hanger for Valentine’s Day. He thought it was shop bought, and I realised that this could be my way back into the creative field! I decided I didn’t want to go back to work and set the wheels in motion for Knttd Ldn.
Then the dreaded C word… Corona struck! Worst timing ever! However, I somehow still managed to launch the business, and here we are! If you’re determined enough to follow your true calling, it will work out.
4. Thimble and Fabric
Thimble and Fabric was set up at amidst the pandemic, in between lockdowns.
What made you take the plunge into a new business, despite Covid?
I started my business during lockdown, after my bridal seamstressing work (not surprisingly!) very suddenly stopped in April.
I had to diversify and generate a different income based on my skills. I’ve also only just started taking part in in-person and online markets, having not done them prior to starting my embroidery business – but now is the time to raise visibility!
Want to discover other makers, or set up your own new creative business? Check out our other blogs for inspiration…