Lockdown was a difficult time for all of us. From key workers to business owners, the majority share the feeling of wishing the pandemic never happened and that 'lockdown' wasn't a word we all know too well.
However, a small group of people, across the country, somewhat owe it to COVID-19 for their entrepreneurial spark. While many people were forced to close down shop, we spoke to six businesses from a variety of categories that opened during the nationwide standstill.
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The Lady's Slip
Fulfilling her long-time dream of starting a business, lockdown gave Sandra Power the time and motivation she needed to open The Lady's Slip store in August 2020. Located in Ireland, the store offers a specialised bra-fitting service as well as selling a variety of lingerie from high-quality brands.
Sandra decided to take the plunge as she very quickly realised during lockdown that something was missing in her town. "The closest shops offering a proper bra-fitting service were both the best part of an hour's drive away," she said. "It pained me to have to travel so far to get something that is a very basic need for an awful lot of women."
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As her contract job was coming to an end, and lockdown, in her expectations, was set to ease, Sandra felt this was the perfect opportunity to start making a change for her area.
However, what she didn't anticipate was just how long the pandemic would last. "I didn't really anticipate that we'd be still going through lockdowns in April of 2021," she said. "I thought we were at the peak at that point so that's why we ended up doing it in the middle of a pandemic."
Despite her physical store currently being closed, Sandra continues to make the best out of the situation by offering customers a virtual bra-fitting service and online shopping. Find her on @the_ladys_slip_lingerie.
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Founded by Julie Peachey in March 2021, Peachey Clothing offers a range of "comfortable but stylish sportswear", with the option of personalisation.
Talking about her motivation for opening the business during lockdown, Julie said: "I found the first lockdown fine because it was summer and it was quite nice to have time off work.
"But as it progressed into the second lockdown, I found myself not really feeling like myself and I lost my job due to COVID. So I decided I needed to do something to keep me busy because mentally I was not very happy being stuck at home doing nothing."
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As a one-woman team, Julie hopes the business will get bigger and more successful as time goes on, but "if all else fails, it has really helped me mentally so it's got that going for it," she said.
Peachey Clothing is currently only run through the Instagram account @peachey_clothing.
An online Asian boutique selling all kinds of cultural earrings, anklets, dupattas, necklaces and more, Desiii's vision is "fast-paced, forward-thinking and fashion-centered at its core", according to their website.
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Founded by Janki during the very first UK lockdown, the 20-year-old Indian female took to Instagram to explain that she saw a gap in the Asian community in terms of online boutiques.
"There aren't many places ONLINE that offer Asian clothing and jewellery for an affordable price," she wrote. "So… I decided to create one myself! I hope this inspires others to be proud of their culture and to support small businesses."
With a presence on almost every social media platform, from YouTube to Instagram, @desiii_uk is a fast-growing small business set to make a difference.
Founded in March 2021, NYANEE offers a wide range of "affordable and high quality premium jewellery". Currently selling gold earrings, necklaces and rings, founder, 23-year-old Niyanee Porter said, "I chose jewellery [to sell] because I like the idea of wearing it to boost your confidence. I want to be able to empower other women and bring out their confidence, all while at a fair price."
Niyanee's motivation for this came from her previous experiences. While she always wanted to be an entrepreneur, she didn't have the time nor confidence to go for it. "During summer last year, I lost a lot of self confidence," she said. "I deleted all my socials, and just let myself go." This small business is Niyanee's way of picking herself back up.
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While she loves being her own boss, and constantly learning new things, the hardest part of starting and owning a small business is the fear of the unknown. "Starting something you've never done before is always scary, especially when I don't know how it's going to go," she said. "It's also not knowing what people might think, especially people you know."
Her biggest piece of advice, however, is to just go for it. "You create your own journey and people's opinion or comment shouldn't affect you."
Hannah Rose Chocolatier
Established during the second lockdown, and based in North Yorkshire, Hannah Rose Chocolatier offers a variety of handmade artisan chocolates in all shapes and sizes.
Founder and chef Hannah Rose started her small business while she was unable to work and to her surprise (and pleasure), she sold over 500 chocolate boxes in the first few weeks, leading up to Christmas.
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On her website, founder Hannah Rose wrote: "I love the precision and attention to detail that chocolate work entails. I am a very particular person and I like things to be just right, working with chocolate allows me to embrace this.
"Each individual chocolate is handcrafted and filled by hand. I strongly believe in only using the best ingredients, and using them to their full potential. Each chocolate fillings are made with fresh produce, from foraged herbs to fresh local fruits," she wrote.
Currently working at a Michelin star restaurant in Oldstead, Hannah fulfils all orders in her spare time, but she's excited to see where this business will take her in the future.
Founded by Kellisha during the first lockdown, Lish Treats caters for all sweets and treats, including cakes, brownies and cupcakes.
Based in Birmingham, Kellisha calls herself "The Banana Cake Queen" but she wasn't always an avid baker. Talking on the Change with Raji Youtube Channel in February, Kellisha talks about how she is a self-taught baker who started making cakes as a hobby.
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"At first it was going on the internet but one thing I can say is I feel like people don't give their actual recipes because it doesn't taste good," she said. "So I thought 'let me just play around with ingredients', and then after a few months, I just started creating my own recipes."
Kellisha also revealed that she started Lish Treats while looking after her four-month-old baby. "I wasn't consistent at all [with baking]," she said. "He's a very clingy baby so I couldn't even put him down."
Kellisha runs her business through the Instagram account @lishtreats.