Last year, we celebrated International Women’s Day with an event and marketplace showcasing some amazing small businesses, run by women in Wales.
Who knew that, just two weeks later, we’d go into a UK-wide lockdown?!
To mark this years’ International Women’s Day, we caught up with three of these women, to see how they’ve managed to keep going during the pandemic.
Here’s Kirsty- Leigh Lewis from Thornbush Hill
“I started my business, selling homemade scented candles, as a side hobby back in 2017. It grew steadily and soon became my full-time job.
By February 2020, I was ready to open my first physical space at the wonderful Ewenny Garden Centre in Bridgend. So, by the time I exhibited at the Hugh James International Women’s Day event in March, things were going great.
Just days later the world completely changed.
I remember the lockdown announcement so clearly. I was in my studio wondering what would happen now. I just sat down for a week to get a sense of the tone of the nation and what it meant for my business. The parcels were piling up.
But after a couple of weeks, an amazing lady at my local post office messaged me and told me to get my parcels to her straight away and we worked together to get all the deliveries out.
From that moment, things just exploded. Every time I was putting new stock on the website, it would sell within 24 hours.
The ethos behind my business has always been: ‘One Small Moment.’ And that’s exactly what people wanted. In these uncertain, stressful times, the ability to just light a candle and relax and unwind became that one small moment for many and the business just snowballed.
It wasn’t all rosy, of course. The pandemic did affect my supply chain and it has been stressful juggling everything with a 3-year-old at home. I’d have the little one with me all day while my husband worked. He’d clock off around 5pm and that’s when my day would start – and I’d continue until midnight.
By October 2020, I needed more space. I opened my second shop on the High Street in Cowbridge and the two retails units were both open in between the lockdowns. But the online business has been unaffected.
I’m so pleased that my success has also had a positive effect on others. As we grown, we’ve been able to place larger orders from our suppliers – all home-grown businesses.
Christmas even busier than usual. But it all changed on New Year’s Eve when my husband and I were struck down with COVID-19.
I woke up on New Year’s Day and felt a bit ropey. By 5 January I was in hospital. It all happened so quickly. I’m gradually recovering now and feel lucky I didn’t have any underlying health conditions before. I’m sure that helped.
I’m back up and running though with our website taking orders and preparing for the reopening of the shops! In the next month we expand our range from hone fragrance to all-natural skincare, botanical bath products and self-care goodies.
It’s got to the stage where I need help with the business – so my husband has handed in his notice.
He’s worked in marketing within the drinks industry for 15 years, so I can’t believe I’ve nabbed him. He’ll be great dealing with the nitty gritty things like the finances and procurement. And he’s looking forward to spending more time at home. It’s going to be a proper family business.
I can’t believe that, while this last year has hit us so hard on a personal level, the business has continued to go from strength to strength.