The local businesses that flourished during lockdown
In our Private Wealth Guide this year, we profiled some of the most up and coming start-ups that had made a name for themselves in the previous year. An ecological toothbrush company, a fledgling design agency and an equine veterinary business all made our list of prize-winning start-ups across Hertfordshire and Essex.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, throwing businesses up and down the country into disarray. Brand-new and long-established businesses alike saw their markets dry up overnight, and struggled to survive under the financial strain. And yet, some new businesses have managed to emerge – and even flourish – in Hertfordshire and Essex even in the harshest of economic circumstances.
Based in Stevenage, we profiled eco-friendly toothbrush company @Bambuu in our 2020-21 Private Wealth Guide for Hertfordshire, and the company has gone from strength to strength ever since. From winning yet another award – named the Most Adaptive Business of 2020 by Intuit Quickbooks – to expanding its product range into eco-friendly water bottles, cotton buds and bamboo cutlery, among others – @Bambuu’s impressive growth has cemented its position as a lockdown business success.
Some new Herts businesses have also managed to make their mark, including Build & Breathe Pilates, owned by pilates instructor and scoliosis specialist Emily Hale. From leading a small number of classes in her area prior to lockdown, she took her business online, acquired 20 new clients in just the first month of lockdown, and was soon teaching classes for huge brands such as Gymshark and Aussie Hair!
Soral Chavda was devastated when lockdown seemed to spell the end of her start-up cocktail events business, Soralina. All her summer bookings were cancelled and she couldn’t see a way forward for her fledgling business. But then, she hit on the idea of preparing at-home cocktail making kits for virtual get-togethers. Her business exploded when Joe Wicks, the YouTube star and lockdown saviour who led daily PE sessions for children on YouTube while schools were closed, featured one of her kits on his Instagram profile.
In our Essex guide this year, we also looked at Davina Steel, a gluten-free bakery company that has also adapted extremely well to lockdown conditions. Value sales of home baking items soared by 49% in the 12 weeks to 14 June 2020, so it’s unsurprising that Davina Steel has grown considerably during the past year. The brand saw its gluten-free home baking kits launched in Waitrose in April last year, and also found itself featured in a Forbes list of healthy baking products.
Jumping on the vintage and second-hand clothing trend during lockdown was OneOff Vintage, which began life in a garden shed and is now recording thousands of sales. Started up by Joe Welsh and Ryan Sanderson in Witham, the brand sells vintage and second-hand designer clothes, and also has its very own app, appealing to the growing segment of modern-day shoppers who prefer to purchase via mobile.
Entrepreneurial spirit remains strong
These businesses success stories prove that the resourcefulness and entrepreneurial spirit of Hertfordshire and Essex’s businessmen and women remains strong, even during a global pandemic. And, interestingly, clear trends emerge when it comes to the businesses that have been successful. Of course, all of them are able to operate online, but they also take advantage of new and emerging trends such as at-home socialising, eco-friendly products and fashion, as well as virtual exercise classes. We’re proud to see local businesses continuing to thrive and find markets even in these most difficult of circumstances, and look forward to following the progress of these flourishing businesses in the future.