When the lockdown began in early 2020, many in the creative and hospitality industries found themselves unsure of what the future held, and with more free time on their hands. For some this was an unexpected opportunity to explore new avenues and embark on new ideas and businesses. With the end of the lockdown on the 19th July, we wanted to highlight some small businesses within our community that have excelled in lockdown, and that we will continue to be supporting.
Ola Akinlade started BVL at the height of lockdown in 2020, he decided to quit his job in digital marketing to pursue his dream of designing. He taught himself to paint during the first lockdown by painting and making custom trainers and one off custom garments.
Since then he has had the privilege of collaborating with the likes of Microsoft, Ladbible, EA (Fifa), Size, and made designs for Ian Wright, Jamie Oliver, Israel Adesanya and others. He now has a design studio with 2 employees in Leeds and is focusing on clothes and shoe design. Keep a lookout for their first collection dropping in August.
Dulcie Loveland started making beaded bracelets to send to friends in lockdown. Just over a year on, Beaded Babe has continued making handmade jewellery and has raised over £7K of profits just for charity. Donations have been made to charities working against domestic abuse, racial injustice, stop & searches, and charities helping food banks, and transgender children. Keep an eye out for new collections dropping monthly, in tune with seasonal holidays, alongside the permanent collection that can all be personalised. Currently, 50% of all profits go to charities supporting Black Lives Matter charities.
Jade Kelly started making underwear in November 2020, by the second lockdown it took off quickly so she never went back to her job and pursued her brand full time. The brand focuses on a strong ethos of letting women feel comfortable but sexy and making a product that all different shapes and sizes of women feel that the product is for them. Jade holds ‘Real Women’ shoots at her home, by asking her audience to get in touch if they want to be involved. None of them are models, they have stretch marks, lumps and bumps, acne, and get to become a part of a wider community of women that are the every day that we see, not the ideal that’s portrayed in the media. The brand has now become zero waste too, by saving and later tying together fabric scraps to make yarn. She hand knits these into one of one knitted pieces. Jade does frequent online drops through Instagram & Big Cartel but has also just started a series of pop up shops with Urban Outfitters. You can find Jade at the next one in Birmingham, 30th – 31st July.
L.Cronin Property Management & Services was set up in January 2020. By this point he was already involved in managing property around the north west. This involves moving tenants in and out, tenancy agreements (a lot of paper work), doing any maintenance work to the properties, managing tenants in the property, collecting rent on time, call outs, making sure they’re at a clean and hygienic level.
His reason for setting his own company was to invest in property and take on renovations. Come February 2020 he had saved up enough money to purchase his first renovation property. It was purchased at £50k and is now worth £90k after the renovation was complete. The property didn’t go through until around March, bang on when the first lock down hit. This made it extremely difficult to get materials and colleagues into the property to help. However after a gruelling 4 month turn around he had turned a house that had not been touched since the 1970’s into a modern, clean looking and rentable house.
Fast forward to 2021 and he successfully just purchased his next house to renovate; currently just waiting on the mortgage to finalise and keys to be handed over. He’s also been taking on a lot more work from customers such as decorating, plastering and window fitting. Bearing in mind that he is completely self taught- no qualifications from college or any prior knowledge regarding the trade business. “So if I can do it, you certainly can.” His end goal would be to have a few more rental properties under his belt and to see this business turn into an estate agents where he can employ multiple staff and just oversee everything.
In March 2020 Adam decided to drop his last £400 on a heat press and vinyl plotter to try out t-shirt making like he had seen on YouTube. “This should pass some time” he thought, but little did he know this pastime would explode into a brand known as Heat and Hustle and it would only change his life and worth ethic from there on.
The explosive start to Heat and Hustle meant Adam could afford to buy other print machines for items like mugs, pens and even an embroidery machine. Being able to offer a wide variety of customised items during a time where people had the extra time and money to rebrand their business meant he never had a slow day while the brand grew at an alarming rate.
In November 2020 the printed mug side of the business reached a level of busy that nobody could have seen coming. That meant Adam was producing 30/40 mugs a day via Etsy and could afford to stop looking for a new full time job all together.
Heat and Hustle design is a one man band with the goal of allowing small business the chance to get uniforms and promotional items without breaking the bank. He had so far worked with primary schools, football teams, cafes, builders and even a hospital.
You can find Heat and Hustle on Facebook or on Etsy.
In November 2020, Isaac invested all of his remaining savings into tufting supplies, in hopes of not only mastering a new art form, but creating a brand/business whilst doing so. He is a 100% self-taught rug maker based in the UK. His initial plan was to create designs based on what he believed people would like, this however spiralled very quickly and resulted in 100% of his work becoming commission based orders. Since setting up he has amassed almost twelve thousand followers on his Instagram in the space of 9 months and created close to 150 rugs, all completely handmade by himself. As he continues to grow his brand he hopes to be able to make rug making more accessible in the UK. In the near future Isaac hopes to be able to work with various artists, alongside expanding his brand into other areas of homeware accessories and potentially even clothing.