This past year the coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on our local (and even national) businesses, but it’s certainly not stopped our community from growing!
We’ve been in touch with a few local entrepreneurs who have bravely set up their own business or even diversified their business due to the pandemic. Our team has been learning their stories and is delighted to share them with you in this edition.
Sam’s Nordic Walking & Fitness – Moving a fitness business online overnight! (@sams_nordic)
“Not being the most tech-savvy or having much knowledge about online platforms that I could use for my business, the one thing that I decided when the pandemic hit was that I must reach out to people and the only way to do this is to bring my fitness business online! My thoughts were that now more than ever people need movement, exercise and fun!
I will be completely honest in saying I have learnt more in the past year about technology than in my whole life. All self-taught, trial and error, and with a lot of help from my kids! I am so passionate about the power of exercise and how it can bring people together. My new vision is to create this online. Exercise is not only good for your physical health, it is fabulous for your whole being, mentally and physically. This past year I have created virtual walking groups, virtual challenges, online fitness sessions on Facebook, Zoom, and Cuppa, and catch-up sessions too, to support and reach out to my amazing community.”
Sam is a Nordic Walking Instructor and an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) coach. Understandably, Sam’s had a tough year completely transforming her physical, outdoorsy reputation into an online, virtual business that anyone can get involved in. But the pandemic, fortunately, hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her passion, providing an all-around fitness regime to help improve people’s health and wellness during these difficult times!
Paula’s This Little Piggie business – A self-taught artist selling her illustrations (@thislittlepiggie73)
“I left my full-time job last January to start my new business called This Little Piggie, and then the pandemic hit. I have managed to get quite a following with my character animal illustrations and paintings with the help of social media and word of mouth. In June last year when restrictions were lifted, I joined the Courtyard at Hyperion Auction Rooms where I rented a pod to sell my creations. It was a great opener for me and an opportunity to get an audience too. Then we had another wave so I had to close again.
I’ve managed to keep quite a following (@thislittlepiggie73) and some regular and lovely new customers too. But all has not been bad, I gained some wonderful friends at the Courtyard, so much so that four of us are starting up in the shop at 15 Cromwell Mews St Ives. Alison at @institches and Sandy from My Little Shop in Cambridge are the main proprietors and I am renting space. This is very exciting as we will all have an opportunity to widen our audience and customer database.”
Paula’s creative eye has allowed her to provide personalised drawings, framed pictures, mugs and pillows with her amazing animal illustrations printed on as the finishing touch. While the pandemic may have made businesses take a step back, it seems This Little Piggie has grown! Paula is also going to rent space at the Cambs Lock in Huntingdon, so she is really branching out! You can check out her website on www.thislittlepiggie.co.uk!
Lauren’s Local Sweet Cart Company – Dealing with all of those spare sweets! (@thelocalsweetcartcompany)
“I rebranded my old business to The Local Sweet Cart Company in January 2020. Sadly I had to cancel all bookings and booked wedding fairs due to COVID-19. I had heaps of sweets in stock that would eventually pass their use-by date, so I made up a few sweet boxes and sent them to family members we missed seeing regularly. I had amazing feedback and decided to try them out on Facebook in June 2020. Within three days I was in tears as I was struggling to cope with looking after my one-year-old twins and an absolutely crazy amount of sweet box orders.
They took off massively and each target I have set for the next big occasion I have managed to double up! I have now got used to the demand and managed to find myself a place to run the business from rather than my kitchen and it’s running along amazingly. January 2021 was the test as I didn’t expect any orders after Christmas, how wrong I was. it’s been very busy.”
Lauren told us this story in January 2021. In February she updated us that times were still very much busy, especially during Valentines Day! The Local Sweet Cart Company has grown amazingly during the pandemic and rightfully so! Who doesn’t want a box of sweets to enjoy while being stuck at home?
Stephen’s Docked Designs – A simplistic twist to digital art! (@dockeddesigns)
“When I first moved to London, I worked as a film and television extra, luckily landing a couple of great jobs like an Olly Murs music video and The Imitation Game film. I work in digital marketing for the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and during the pandemic, I was furloughed in November. As a very creative person through my previous life and current job, it was great to be creative. During furlough, I had time to self reflect and decided to self teach digital illustration to keep my creativity alive. In doing so, my friends encouraged me to sell my work, and hence, Docked Designs was born.
The main passion for this is that my creativity comes to life as well as channel my passion for film and television. But I also do custom prints of whatever the customer wants.”
Originally from St Ives and Ramsey, Stephen drove his career to the big city and found himself taking part in a variety of awesome and creative experiences. Since Docked Designs was born, he’s perfected his skill in digital illustrations and has grown a wide audience who enjoy his “unique twist to digital art” gaining 1,000 followers in just two months. Perfect for homes and creative workspaces, Docked Designs is a brilliant thing to come out of the pandemic! Visit www.dockeddesigns.co.uk to check out Stephen’s work!
Kathryn’s Mindful Design Shoppe – bringing imagination to life during lockdown (@mindfuldesignshoppe)
“My background is in journalism and media, which was my specialism at university but life had other ideas and I ended up going into retail post-uni, then into healthcare, and then onto online project management. However, when I was made redundant due to COVID-19 at the end of last year, I took the opportunity to launch a passion project.
The Mindful Design Shoppe was born out of lockdown and has become my sanity saviour during the current circumstances. Mindful Design combines my love of social media, small businesses, digital illustration and calligraphy, and is a place to blend not only the things I love to create but bringing imagination to life, with love, for my customers and clients.
It’s by no means a full-time career, the mortgage won’t pay for itself and the dog still needs his treats! But it’s been a joy to launch during this time and to work so closely with so many people to create such meaningful pieces.”
Kathryn has launched The Mindful Design Shoppe as a way to remain creatively fulfilled and to bring to life personal things for her clients and small businesses during this very difficult time. Her small craft and digital design shop offer a variety of bespoke illustrations, branding and graphic prints for families and businesses to help put smiles on people’s faces when we aren’t able to see them and give them a cuddle at the moment. You can visit her website on www.mindfuldesignshoppe.com