Cornwall LivingIssue #100
Unlocking your potential
Let’s be honest; it’s never easy trying to balance work, home and family life, even at the best of times.
Add a global pandemic, lockdown restrictions, furlough, redundancy and home-schooling into the mix, and it becomes even more of a challenge.
With the UK now officially declared as being in recession, plus rising unemployment figures, starting a new business in times like these is not ideal. However, many Outset Cornwall clients would disagree, as they’ve used their time in lockdown to develop their ideas, build their businesses and pursue their dreams of becoming their own boss.
This was certainly the case for Boscastle-based product designer Andrew Davey, who was made redundant earlier this year after 15 years of working for his employer. “I’d wanted to start my own business for a while, but I’d never found the time to really focus on it, so this felt like the perfect opportunity,” says Andrew.
“After reading great reviews online, I signed up for Outset’s business start-up sessions which really helped focus my ideas, rationalise my plans and take the first steps in setting up my new business.”
As the father of an active toddler with extensive experience in designing outdoor play areas and equipment, the move into making his own range of children’s activity toys was an obvious one. Andrew’s company, Topitots, makes recyclable, environmentally friendly toys for early years children which encourage fun, open play, movement and expression, using responsibly sourced natural materials that would otherwise have gone to landfill.
With a small family, no childcare and being furloughed from his part-time job, Andrew had to make working on his new business a lower priority when the UK went into lockdown. But thanks to his partner’s support, Andrew managed to spend evenings and occasional afternoons building his website and developing product designs, aiming to launch his products in time
Andrew says: “The last few months have been seriously challenging for everyone and keeping positive about setting up a new venture has been difficult at times.
“Outset has been great though,” he continues, “their sessions always boost my confidence and my focus, which has really helped keep things on track. During the embryonic phase of starting a business, it sometimes seems like it doesn’t really exist, so being part of a community, exploring ideas and discussing progress really helps bring it back into reality.”
Another Outset client who used the situation to focus and formulate her plans is Sophie Tilston. Balancing a busy home life, home-schooling three children and working part-time meant Sophie had never managed to get started on her plans, until the pandemic hit, and lockdown gave her some much-needed time and space to think. “I’ve always experimented with printing my own designs and products, and dreamed of running my own business,” says Sophie.
“For nearly four years I attended one or two craft fairs a year with some of my designs, but I was only really testing the waters. Customer feedback was always really positive, so when lockdown hit, I thought ‘I’ve just got to get started properly with this’. A friend of mine recommended Outset Cornwall, so I signed up.”
Thanks to Outset delivering everything online, giving people flexibility to fit sessions and one-to-ones around family, work and other commitments, Sophie completed the business start-up programme and launched her new business.
Using the array of skills she gained from her textile design degree and career background in product design and buying, Sophie started her own designer homeware company from her studio in Falmouth, handmaking and printing eclectic homeware and fashion accessories in beautiful patterns, including lampshades, tea towels, greetings cards and mugs, selling them online via her website and Etsy shop.
“When you’re a parent you’re always thinking ‘How can I maximise this time, while they’re asleep?’ You get used to stop-starting jobs, multi-tasking and getting the most out of every single minute of the day,” says Sophie. “I’d been working from home for a while and gotten used to working around the children and in the evenings. Now, running my own business gives me the freedom to work whenever I choose.”
If you have an idea for a business and dream of being your own boss, contact Outset Cornwall and start making it a reality.