Along with the pandemic came plenty of new businesses founded by eager entrepreneurs with nothing but time on their hands.
While some began selling cakes on Instagram or flogging homemade candles during lockdown, others opted for nicher business ideas which specifically served the needs of customers during the coronavirus crisis.
One man sold clips designed to stop your glasses steaming up while wearing a mask, while a young mother made £7,000 a month printing company logos on face coverings.
But how will these businesses cope now that so-called Freedom Day has arrived?
Speaking to FEMAIL, four business owners have revealed exactly how much lockdown restrictions have impacted them so far, and what they plan to do in the future.
PRINTED COMPANY LOGOS ON FACE MASKS
Danielle Turner, 32, from Reading
The mother-of-two made £7,000 a month
Danielle Turner, 32, from Reading, was working two or three days a week before the Covid-19 pandemic, taking home around a £1,000 a month as a freelance graphic designer
Dani (left) came up with the idea to print logos onto company masks, and soon was taking home £7,000 a month, by charging £56 for a pack of four reusable masks. The mother-of-two has worked with estate agents, hairdressers and make-up artists. Pictured right are hairdressers wearing masks branded with their salon’s logo
Dani was working two or three days a week before the Covid-19 pandemic, taking home around a £1,000 a month as a freelance Health and Beauty graphic designer.
‘When all my existing clients shut down during lockdown they had no business and subsequently that meant no work for me’, said Dani.
Keen to pick up some extra cash while looking after her daughter Mila, four, and one-year-old daughter Paige, Dani adapted her design skills and started a service offering branded face coverings to advertise businesses.
Dani says she started making profits immediately and this time last year the mother-of-two was taking home £7,000 a month, charging £56 for a pack of four reusable masks.
‘As soon as I put on my Instagram all my existing clients wanted them and also businesses I had never worked with now wanted masks too. So I gained lots of potential client contacts’, said Dani.
The designer has since worked with Hun Wines, a canned wine brand that’s a favourite of Amanda Holden, and Make Up By Carmen, a beautician who works with celebrities including Meghan Barton-Hanson.
‘The mask business has been fairly steady but of course I was making money at the beginning of the pandemic’, said Dani. ‘I was one of the only people doing this service. Now there are a lot of mass productions and people undercutting.’
Dani ‘absolutely’ expects business to decline now restrictions have eased, and has adapted her services to provide marketing collateral for companies she’s already worked with.
‘I hardly make masks anymore but I have extended my client database ten fold’, she said. ‘I have clients now that become clients through the mask business and I now create all their marketing collateral.
‘I do all my work online with strong telephone, email liaison, it’s so time saving allowing more money to be made! More time more money!’
CREATED FACE MASK CLIPS
Alex Wickens, 22, from Eastbourne, East Sussex
His start-up is on track to make a £1million turnover within the first year of operations
Alex Wickens, 22, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, designed clips designed to stop your face mask steaming up while wearing glasses and his start-up is on track to make a £1m turnover within the first year of operations
After securing a place to go to Flight Academy to train as a commercial pilot just days before the first lockdown, Alex braced to enter an industry making mass redundancies.
‘With no prospect of being able to get a job at the end of it, taking out a £120,000 loan to pay for flight training was too risky for me.’
He took a job picking up early morning online deliveries at his local Asda and became frustrated at his glasses constantly steaming up while he was wearing his face mask.
Looking for solutions he stumbled across a small business in Normandy which used 3D printers to make mask clips, which could prevent glasses from steaming up, created and refined by a French engineer.
In October 2020, Alex stumbled across a small business in France which used 3D printers to make mask clips, which could prevent glasses from steaming up
The clips are made from an eco-friendly material and were created by a 3D printer in Normandy, France
In October 2020, Alex purchased three thousand clips and arranged for them to be imported directly from France to Sussex. His brand, MistyClip, was born.
He built a new website with an online shop, produced a home-made promotional video and launched a marketing campaign through Facebook and LinkedIn.
‘Orders came in quickly and once the manufacturing costs had been paid for, we started to make profits’, said Alex. ‘We now have a profitable operation which has paid for my flight school fees in full.
‘We’re also making regular donations to local charity, Trelis which helps vulnerable and homeless people to get back on their feet.’
The company are on track for a £1million turnover within the first year of operations and say that despite changing restrictions, mask orders have been ‘fairly consistent’ throughout the pandemic.
While he is concerned about the new rules surrounding face masks, sales traffic so far hasn’t been affected.
‘We’re not sure what winter will bring’, said Alex. ‘So people are ordering on the basis that they might need their MistyClips for a winter lockdown if the pandemic gets worse. Planning for our “pandemic” side of the business is a bit like riding a rollercoaster.
‘Thankfully, we’re seeing an increasing demand for MistyClips with corporate customers, NHS workers and employees working in a sector where masks are essential and we see this continuing for some time yet regardless of the “legal restrictions”.’
SELLS PREMIUM HAND SANITISER
Rachel Cummins, 32, from Loughton, Essex
The company’s turnover last year was £1.4 million and sales continue to rise
Rachel Cummins, 32, of Loughton, Essex, launched her brand Let’s Sanitise, a range of premium hand sanitisers when her photobooth business started to suffer due to the pandemic
Two months before the pandemic, Rachel was left in the lurch when every single booking for her photobooth business had been cancelled.
Unsure how long lockdown was going to last, it was clear to Rachel that she would have to adapt to survive and so she launched her brand Let’s Sanitise, a range of premium hand sanitisers.
‘We started originally selling branded sanitiser stations and quickly realised that the sanitiser on the market was not up to the standards that we had liked it to be’, said Rachel. ‘So where we were selling thousands of these stations, we wanted them to contain something more premium.’
Sick of other products leaving her hands ‘sticky and smelling of vodka’, Rachel released ten non-sticky, scented sanitisers that contain essential oils and 75 per cent alcohol, with a donation to charity made with each purchase.
Rachel already had a small team of staff, vans and a warehouse and says she started making profits almost immediately after landing a coveted place on Mrs. Hinch’s Instagram story.
‘I wrote her a lovely handwritten note explaining about how we had adapted our photobooth company to Let’s Sanitise. To our surprise, and seriously my heart nearly fell out of my chest! I had a notification on my phone saying ‘ Mrs. Hinch has tagged you in a story’.
The company’s turnover last year was £1.4 million and Rachel says the there is usually a rise in sales when lockdowns are lifted because customers are more concerned with safety in public
Rachel released ten non-sticky, scented sanitisers that contain essential oils and 75 per cent alcohol, with a donation to charity made with each purchase
The company gained around 10,000 followers and 3000 orders overnight and despite facing cashflow problems at the beginning, with some careful planning managed to ‘overcome this hurdle’.
‘We have reinvested all profits back into the business and further product development which has now grown Let’s Sanitise into the complete hand care brand’, said Rachel.
The company’s turnover last year was £1.4 million and Rachel says that there is usually a rise in sales when lockdowns are lifted because customers are more concerned with safety on public transport and in the workplace.
‘We believe that people are becoming more conscious about hand hygiene and have adapted this as a normality now’, said Rachel.
The entrepreneur isn’t concerned with business slowing down now that Freedom Day has been and gone, saying: ‘We believe sanitiser is a thing of the future and is here forever now.
‘You can’t work into a restaurant, bar, workplace, or anywhere to be honest without seeing the sanitiser as soon as you walk in. ‘
Let’s Sanitise is now expanding into becoming a complete hand care brand, recently recently launching hand wash and lotions which have been a ‘huge success’.
SOLD SECOND HAND ANTIQUES VIRTUALLY
Anita Lo, 28, from Cheshire
Her items sell from hundreds to thousands of pounds
Anita Lo, 28, from Cheshire, set-up virtual antiques and vintage clothing store Clara’s Box in May last year from her parents’ living room, after moving out of London due to lockdown
Anita set-up virtual antiques and vintage clothing store Clara’s Box in May last year from her parents’ living room, after moving out of London due to lockdown.
She was working remotely as a PR consultant and languages tutor and decided to start selling her old clothes and antiques when her parents complained she had brought too many back with her.
‘I’ve had an interest in fashion and antiques since young, always collecting and looking for bargains and unique items, so owning a business in this sector has been a dream job for me for a long time’, said Anita.
‘Due to lockdown restrictions and budget, it wouldn’t be feasible to open a physical shop. So, I decided to sell my existing antiques, curiosities, and vintage clothing online to target both the local and international market.’
Using her previous retail experience working at Harrods and her local Cancer Research shop as a volunteer, Anita began selling art, antiques, and clothing from 1500s to 1990s on Instagram.
With second hand shops shut, Anita’s business grew so much that two months after launching she had to start renting her own apartment in Cheshire.
She was working remotely as a PR consultant and languages tutor and decided to start selling her old clothes and antiques when her parents complained she had brought too many back with her
Using her previous retail experience working at Harrods and her local Cancer Research shop as a volunteer Anita began selling art, antiques, and clothing from 1500s to 1990s on Instagram. Despite her lack of profits, Anita’s customers include TV/film costume companies, and world-famous clients she doesn’t have permission to name
‘On May 1st 2020 I had zero followers on Instagram, but as of today I have almost 4k followers just from organic social content, ongoing sales, and word of mouth. I’ve not spent a penny on advertising’, she said.
Although the business has been operating for over a year with success, profit hasn’t been made yet as Anita invests all of her profits into buying new stock and donates a percentage to local charities.
Despite her lack of profits, Anita’s customers include TV/film costume companies, and world-famous clients she doesn’t have permission to name.
‘On average I sell from few hundred to about a couple of thousand pounds a month, but not all things I sell make profit. It is important that there is a good flow of new, interesting, and unique selection of vintage clothing and antiques coming in stock each month’, she said.
And while Anita’s business was born from second hand shops being closed, the easing of restrictions doesn’t appear to be slowing her down, with the entrepreneur insisting the business ‘has not stopped growing’ since the first lockdown.
‘My buyers trust my taste and say I have an eye for unusual, one-of-a-kind items that are desirable’, she said.
‘I did notice whenever the government announced new lockdown restrictions and guidelines, local business slowed down for a few days due to consumers being more cautious about spending.’
She went on: ‘Thankfully, the majority of my customers are international – from as close as France to as far as Nairobi, so this shouldn’t affect business much. Although, I am aware that many vintage and antique shops nationwide have closed down during the pandemic.
‘So, I am very thankful that Clara’s Box’s business model is all virtual, it is scalable and flexible. If it grows even more, I can always open a physical shop and look at new platforms. ‘