WITH the threat of coronavirus looming on the horizon and the economic shutdown that was to follow, setting up a business was unlikely to be on anyone’s agenda.
But as the nation’s economy was coming to a halt a little over three months ago, three women in Salisbury were busy doing just that.
Charlotte Langton, Pam Land and Elizabeth Coombes have all launched new businesses either just before or at the height of lockdown.
Although the circumstances were far from ideal, they all managed to overcome the difficulties imposed by the very strict restrictions in place at the time and develop what are now three successful start-ups.
Charlotte’s business, Charlotte Louise Scents, produces hand poured wax melts and candles – a hobby the mum-of-one decided to turn into a business which she launched in mid March.
Charlotte, 32, said: “It was the worst time in the world to start a business but after months of preparations I thought we just have to run with it.
“I was all ready to go and it was all very exciting but when the lockdown came I thought this is going to be a disaster.”
However, as people were confined to their homes, the only way to shop was online meaning Charlotte’s internet-based business was able to take off.
“We’ve been inundated [with orders], it’s been crazy,” she added.
“Social media has helped massively, that’s the thing that saved us and the support from the community has been wonderful.”
After three months of working from her home in Bishopdown, Charlotte has now secured premises in West Dean where her workshop will be moving to.
Sixty-six-year-old Pam Land, who already runs a boarding cattery in Winterbourne Gunner, set up Live Well Natural Skincare in April.
Her original plan was to host a party to show off her natural soaps and skincare products to her existing customers but unable to do so, “I had to think on my feet”.
She said: “I’m a grandma, I’m not a youngster. I’m completely comfortable with customers coming in but this was completely different, you’re learning as you go.”
To promote her business, Pam experimented with platforms such as Instagram where she was able to receive help from more internet-savvy business owners.
Asked why she decided to go ahead with the launch rather than postponing it until the pandemic had subsided, Pam said: “The IT side of it, the social media side of it and the e-commerce side of it were all new to me but I thought I’ve got to do it, I’ve got to learn.”
The same determination is also what inspired 47-year-old Elizabeth Coombes to finally take the plunge.
The furloughed worker from Bishopdown had been wanting to set up her baking business, Queen of Bundts, for some time. When she eventually did, lockdown was just days away.
“[Starting your own business] is a bit like children, you never think it’s the right time but it got to the point where I just have to do it otherwise I will always wonder,” she said.
Being furloughed from her part-time job at a spirits company gave her the time to bake, sometimes even 15 hours a day.
The inability for others to see friends and family meant people were keen to order brownies, bundt cakes and biscuits to send to their loved ones to show them they were thinking of them.
“I was lucky because word spread quite quickly. It was friends ordering for friends who would then order some more.”
She added: “I don’t think I expected it to move as quickly as it did.”