The North East Power House – 10 North East small businesses making a difference in 2021

The Importance of Small Businesses in North East England

The last few months have undoubtedly been a whirlwind for everyone and the Covid pandemic has brought challenges for us all. In many cases, these challenges have been amplified for small business owners, who have had to cope with the turbulence of a global pandemic, whilst pivoting and adapting their businesses to maintain their income streams. Whilst the world is beginning to return to normal, for small businesses this is likely to be a longer process with 25% of small businesses estimating that they will not return to pre-pandemic levels of trading until spring or summer of 2022. The pandemic and the threat that this has brought to small businesses has brought an increased drive for the public to shop locally and has highlighted the importance of small businesses. 

This article will explore the importance of small businesses in North East England, including: 

  • How small businesses in North East England have changed over the Covid pandemic
  • The importance of small businesses
  • 10 Small North East Businesses to Support


How Small Businesses in North East England have Changed over the Covid Pandemic


One of the biggest changes that small businesses have faced during the Coronavirus pandemic was keeping up with the ever changing local and national restrictions and the uncertainty that this brought. The pandemic disproportionately affected small businesses, with revenue falling for 52% of small businesses (with 0-99 employees) compared to only falling for 40% of mid-sized businesses (with 100-999 employees). Small businesses based in the North-East of England and Scotland have been the worst impacted by the pandemic after london. In the North-East of England small businesses have suffered an average of £3000 less income.


Over 75% of small businesses either adapted their business by innovating or pivoting, or cut costs (or both) in order to survive the pandemic, showing the resilience of small business owners. As part of this adaptation, many small businesses adopted new technologies into their business such as creating a business website or social media profiles in order to continue trading. 18% of small businesses moved their business online, whilst 10% pivoted to begin serving a new market. Whilst small businesses have been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, small business owners around the country have risen to the challenge by adapting their businesses to ensure survival.


The last few months have been incredibly challenging for small businesses, with many struggling to survive the uncertainty and loss of income.


The Importance of Small Businesses

The importance of small businesses cannot be overstated and with businesses in the North East being hit especially hard, it is vital that we all do our bit to help our favourite small businesses get through this difficult time. 

One of the biggest benefits that small businesses bring is the employment opportunities that they can provide local people in the North East. “Two out of three new net private sector jobs are created by small businesses.” As well as creating jobs, the people within these jobs often report high job satisfaction. Small businesses can directly impact their local community, with the income going to ambitious local people in the North East, rather than multinational companies. 

In addition to providing employment, small businesses can also compete against the big corporations which can improve industries and bring benefits for consumers. Small businesses are also vital in maintaining the strength of the economy and encouraging market growth. Unlike larger corporations, small businesses often reflect the quirks and uniqueness of the area in which they are based.


10 Small North East Businesses to Support 


Given the difficulties faced by small businesses over the last year and also the importance of small businesses, I wanted to highlight some of my favourite small businesses based in North-East England. Before I share my favourite businesses with you, I first wanted to give you a little bit of background about me and my journey with Larchmill:


Small North East Business - Larchmill  

 

larchmill images

Prior to 23rd March 2020, Larchmill was my secondary business - I was a full time photographer, but that all changed overnight.  I went from having schools and weddings booked in for the rest of the year, to nothing - BUT the upside to that, I was given the chance to focus on the little acorn that was Larchmill. 

I had set Larchmill up at the start of 2019, for 2 reasons -  to make caravan & motorhome merchandise as that is a huge passion of mine, and also to use my amazingly talented friend, Amanda/Mad Little Artist's amazing designs on products to sell all over the world (well I didn't expect that when I started, the all over the world part!!).

So for me Covid closed one door but well and truly opened another.  2021 started off really well, the new year slump wasn't as bad as I had expected, but in April, when the shops reopened, I did see a big drop in sales.  Thankfully orders picked up again prior to Father's Day and it has been nice and steady since.  March this year I moved from my home office into a studio, as I had outgrown the space and found I had stock all over the house. 

For 2022, I would love to see the continued growth we have experienced this year and welcome a "girl/boy Friday" to the team, although I think this may happen prior to Christmas this year if growth continues.   

My USP, I think I have 2 - customer service - without customers we don't have a business, so I strive to be as helpful as possible and my other USP is quality products. I seek out the best suppliers with the best quality products.  I can buy cheaper, but I refuse to do this. I won't compromise quality over price. 

My best selling item .. this is a tricky one, it does vary month to month but I would say my motorhome/caravan coasters are consistently number 1 closely followed by the fabulous badger mug and enamel motorhome/caravan camping mugs.  Although the Tooth Fairy bags have crept up there these last few weeks!


 

Small North East Business - Coffee & Kin

coffee and kin image trio

 

Describe your business in less than 10 words. 

Coffee & Kin sells seriously tasty, eco-friendly coffee for your home. 

How did Covid affect your business in 2020?
We were one of the lucky ones and our business grew during the lockdown. I think it's because everyone was stuck at home and needed lots of coffee to get them through homeschooling and working from home! 

How are you finding 2021 so far?
I'll be honest, our growth has slowed but it's to be expected. Personally, I'm just so pleased that kids are back at school and people are able to see their friends and family. We have lots of exciting plans for the rest of 2021, including the launch of a new decaf coffee pod and our new Coffee & Chocolate Club. 

Where would you like to see your business in 2022?

I believe in dreaming big and that anything is possible. In 2022, I hope that Coffee & Kin will triple in size. I also want to see our products on more retail shelves. Most importantly, I want to grow our loyal community of eco-conscious coffee drinkers, plant lots of trees and donate more money to The Blurt Foundation. 

What is your USP?
This is such a tricky question. I believe that our USP is our people - our KIN. It's Mark and I's passion to do good, it's our customers desire to support small business and drink high quality, ethical coffee and it's our craving to feel good. Fundamentally, we want to make people smile and help our beautiful planet. 

What is your best selling item?
Our plastic free and compostable coffee capsules are definitely the most popular, quickly followed by our Coffee & Chocolate Box. It's the perfect gift or treat to yourself. 

 

Small North East Business - Wilderness Be Free 

wilderness be free images

Describe your business in less than 10 words. 
Wilderness Be Free - Adventure illustrations for the adventurer in you.

How did Covid affect your business in 2020?
I had to really up my game online which was hard as you feel like a small fish in a very large pond.

How are you finding 2021 so far?
2021 has been tricky as I’ve had to ensure that my dance school is Covid friendly and running smoothly. I’ve released a few new designs earlier in the year and I’m hoping to release a few more over the summer. It’s been great to get my work back into bricks and mortar shops as that’s where I do better.

Where would you like to see your business in 2022?
I’d like to think that life has more of an equilibrium in 2022 so that I can attend art markets and approach new stores. I’m hoping I can push the business forward instead of just coasting along.

What is your USP?
I guess my USP is original artwork inspired by my outdoor adventures to inspire you to go and have some of your own.

What is your best selling item?
My best selling products are definitely my greetings cards. 

 

Small North East Business - The Stationery Society

stationery society images

 

Describe your business in less than 10 words.
A Monthly Stationery Subscription Box created in the UK  

How did Covid affect your business in 2020?
As we were classed as non-essential retail, our doors were closed but we remained open through our website. We saw demand for online purchases sore, particularly for cards and prints to send to loved ones during lockdown. This was the catalyst for us to re-design the website for our primary business, For The Love of The North, but also planted the seed to develop an online based subscription community. This is when we conceived the idea for The Stationery Society, a monthly subscription box that brings together a unique collection of exclusive gifts, all designed and produced in the UK by talented creatives.  Each month, The Stationery Society delivers a beautifully boxed collection to all its members, all around a changing monthly theme.

How are you finding 2021 so far?
After a challenging time for so many businesses, we naturally felt uncertain about what the future may bring but the support we’ve received from our local community as well as further afield has been amazing. We’re always listening to our customers and testing and tweaking what we do to try to deliver the very best products we can.    

Where would you like to see your business in 2022?
As The Stationery Society and our sister company, For The Love of The North, continues to grow, we are keen to support more and more artists and illustrators from all around the country.  

What is your USP?
Echoing the same values as For The Love of The North, 25% of sales from The Stationery Society are awarded to a different charity each month, in line with the changing theme. 25% of all sales for our first box, themed by the Seaside, will be donated directly to Surfers Against Sewage. 

Our vision with The Stationery Society is to create opportunities for artists, particularly those in the early stages of their career, to showcase and position their work in the commercial sector. Through the community-led initiatives, The Stationery Society will be making a valuable contribution to communities by offering financial support and increasing access to creative works and opportunities.

What is your best selling item/service?
We took inspiration from our sister company, where the best selling item is our “Love will Get Us Through” Rainbow Charity Prints, which 25% of sales are donated to our local Northumbria NHS Trust’s Bright Charity. This carved out our approach when launching The Stationery Society, ensuring we continue to support different charities around the UK. 

 

Small North East Business - My Glamorous Place

my glamorous place images

Describe your business in less than 10 words.

Beautiful high quality finishing touches for your home.

How did Covid affect your business in 2020?
My Glamorous Place initially had to stop trading online as all suppliers were closed, then we had delayed shipments & a real lack of stock, so even when we could trade it was a difficult year, despite online sales booming. Oh and we were homeschooling!

How are you finding 2021 so far?
A mixed result. Earlier in the year we had our best ever month, and things were recovering well, but since lockdown eased things have been up and down and hard to predict. However we have used this time to get our ducks in a row behind the scenes, we’re getting set for trade post Summer hols when homewares typically trades well. We’re also looking at re starting pop up events later this year.

Where would you like to see your business in 2022?
We would like to double our turnover YOY and build on the solid foundation we have built this year.

What is your USP?
Our friendly service that only a small business can provide, and our 30 day no quibble returns.

What is your best selling item?
This changes with the season, but our Hirst Pendant light is always popular, our ceramic vases & our mirrors.


Small North East Business - Pop and Flo

pop and flo images

Describe your business in less than 10 words.

Colourful, unique accessories for you & your home.

How did Covid affect your business in 2020?
Originally I set up Pop & Flo to sell fashion accessories via Pop up shops & online. When the pandemic hit I branched out into homeware & sourced tableware, candles, fair trade table mats & recycled glass. My business went from strength to strength & I doubled my turnover. I now sell mainly online but am planning to organise pop up shops again now that the country is opening up again. 

How are you finding 2021 so far?
Great thank you. I took part in a couple of large online markets in the spring which really helped with sales & growing my customer base. I have sourced some amazing pieces from Turkey recently that have been super popular.  Things have tailed off a little as lockdown eased but I recently did a charity Pop up shop & it was great to see customers again & get some positive feedback! 

Where would you like to see your business in 2022?
I would really love to have a little shop on the farm where people could call in alongside growing my online sales. I am researching lines that can be custom made for me … there is lots in the pipeline! 

What is your USP?
Affordable luxury , sustainably sourced pieces & use of small artisan suppliers … I strive to find pieces that are just that little bit different! 

What is your best selling item?
This year it’s been Recycled glass bud vases from Spain in a variety of colours & hand glazed cabbage ceramics from Portugal on the homewares front & enamel bangles made in Turkey on the accessories side! 

 

Small North East Business - Awesome Botanical

awesome botanical image trio


Describe your business in less than 10 words.
Awesome Botanical is – Holistic Skincare to Revive, Energise & Ease away your Stresses 

How did Covid affect your business in 2020?
Awesome Botanical was Born during 2020 amidst the worldwide pandemic. As my other business was affected due to COVID we had all of our sites shut down, I’m not the type of person who can sit and do nothing, like many others I was suffering from anxiety. I started to study cosmetics and essential oils, as this is something that I was passionate about. I had always used essential oils to help ease my own anxiety and I had a passion to create products that would help other people to own their power and through self care ease away their stresses.

How are you finding 2021 so far?
2021 started off strong with online sales, naturally as the shops have opened back up the online world has gone a little bit quiet. We are also focusing on bringing on board retail stockists. Within the UK we have a local stockist Mrs BArts in Stocksfield, who retail a wide range of our products. 2021 has also seen us go global with 2 USA online retailers.

Where would you like to see your business in 2022?
We would like to continue growing our business in all areas, online & retail stockists. We will be looking at launching some additional whipped soap scents in 2022 and maybe some additional bath bombs too.
  
What is your USP?
Reviving & Energising Holistic Skincare.

What is your best selling item?
Our Cracked Heel Balm is currently our Best Selling item. It was shortlisted by Top Sante UK in the 2021 Bodycare Awards. My heels were terrible before I developed this product and now I no longer worry about having my feet out as they are beautifully soft. It is a natural foot balm that will bring an intense burst of moisture to your dry cracked heels and feet. Infused with a luxurious blend of Lemon & Peppermint essential oils that will revive and energise your feet. Be sure to add it to your daily self-care routine to soften the skin on your dry cracked heels. For the Ultimate Foot Spa Ritual add in our Epsom Salt Foot Soak to your weekly self care routine.

 

Small North East Business - Samantha Lois Illustrations 

samantha lois images


Describe your business in less than 10 words.
Samantha Lois Illustrations - Luxury, handmade resin coated dining and home styling accessories 

Describe your business in less than 10 words.
I feel covid stunted growth in some aspects of my business and excelled it in others. I had planned to attend my first trade show the year covid happened which, was cancelled due to lock down and therefore stopped this in its tracks (in a way pausing my business plan for a year). However my online presence and website sales were incredible. Giving me the opportunity to finally run my business full-time which isn't something I had had the opportunity to do previously. 

How did Covid affect your business on 2020?
2021 has been a huge learning curve and a bit of a juggling act trying to ride the wave of retail closures and constant changes in consumer shopping habits. This did however give me the time to renovate a new out-of-home studio and attend the trade show which went excellently.

Where would you like to see your business in 2022?
I hope to continue building my wholesale presence and expand my workspace to allow more small gift shops to stock my products across the country.

What is your USP?
My USP is the originality in my products. Each piece is handmade and hand-poured making every product unique to the next. There is an eye catching contrast between the rustic Olive Wood of my beautifully grained styling accessories and my hand-poured marble-like resin artwork.

What is your best selling item?
My best selling item is my rustic olive wood serving bowl which I was a finalist for at the gift of the year awards 2021. It is the perfect gifting item and is as practical as it is stunning.

 

Small North East Business - Bake for the Soul

bake for the soul images

Describe your business in less than 10 words.

Bake for the Soul is a Family run business offering quality and bespoke baking for everyone
 
How did Covid affect your business in 2020?
As a business we were fortunate to still be able to trade and offer customers a service through delivery and postal. It was a big blow on our bespoke celebration cakes and café wholesale.  Every time the restrictions changed we would pivot the business slightly.
 
We had just taken on a premises which meant we didn’t have a big opening but it gave us an opportunity to slowly get everything right. I would say it has slowed progress slightly but that’s not necessarily a negative. It has given me time to make the right decisions to last rather than rushing.
 
How are you finding 2021 so far?
It has been lovely in 2021 to get back to events and supplying wedding cakes. It’s been a slow process but its nice to see celebrations going ahead so we are getting more enquiries through. 
 
Where would you like to see your business in 2022?
I am hoping we will continue to grow and expand the business into 2022. I have made plans to expand the team this year ready for next year. We have already been filling the diary with events and wedding bookings.
 
What is your USP?
We have a very good understanding of allergens. I have family who are vegan and coeliac and I am gluten and dairy intolerant. We have set up the facility to have separate ovens, mixers and tins to be able to cater to free from bakes.
 
What is your best selling item?
It varies day by day but a lot of customers go for our vanilla cake or chocolate brownie.

 

Small North East Business - Lolla Mac

lolla mac images

Describe your business in less than 10 words.

Lolla Mac - Sterling silver and mixed metal jewellery, handcrafted in Northumberland

How did Covid affect your business on 2020?

All my face to face events were cancelled and my physical selling spaces disappeared overnight. Whilst I already had an established Etsy shop, my online sales were only a small part of my income so I was really worried about how I would continue. Thankfully, and somewhat serendipitously, I'd reinvested my Christmas sales income into commissioning my own website at the start of 2020, so as we went into lockdown I was able to focus on that. It was hard work, but thankfully sales trickled in and just about kept me going.

How are you finding 2021 so far?

The start of the year wasn't great when we are all in lockdown again, but since reopening things have picked up and are looking very positive. I'm really pleased to be running my jewellery making workshops again and they have been very popular. Sales through stockists are doing pretty well too, no doubt a result of the move to shop move locally and independent; long may that continue!

Where would you like to see your business in 2022?

I'd love to build my workshop programme with a wider choice of classes; I've got a few ideas up my sleeve! I've been playing with a few non-jewellery pieces this year and would love to develop that too, to create a range of decorative and functional pieces for the home. As well as designing more jewellery collections too of course!

What is your USP?

Me! I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve and think that comes across in my communication with my customers. They know exactly who I am, what my values are and what they can expect from me. I only make jewellery that I would love to wear myself, in designs that can be worn again and again, and that form the basis of a capsule jewellery wardrobe; fast fashion styles or keeping up with latest trends and what others are making doesn't interest me. I'm also very proud to create each and every piece entirely by hand, without relying on pre-made charms or accent pieces; that sounds like it should be a given but believe me, it isn't.

What is your best selling item?

Currently I can't keep on top of the demand for my little reclaimed silver & copper heart pebble pendants! Otherwise it's a toss-up between my copper & silver double disc pendant, or my silver disc stud earrings; they are such easy pieces to wear and have a wide appeal, making them particularly popular choices for gifts.


How Important are Small Businesses in the North East of England? 


Small businesses are massively important in the North East of England, small businesses bring employment opportunities and also benefit the local community - to name just a couple of the benefits of small businesses! Whilst the last year has been difficult for everyone, the Coronavirus pandemic has hit North East small businesses especially hard. Despite this, small businesses have risen to the challenge and pivoted and adapted in order to survive. But with many small businesses not expecting to return to pre-pandemic levels of trading until 2022, small businesses in the North East need your support more than ever!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published