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Business born out of lockdown receives support with ecommerce website

Sarah Smith followed her passion of photography with an already established and successful business, however with the arrival of lockdown, she decided that her career needed to take a new direction the focus… highland cows. 

Published: 03 December 2020

The entrepreneur has built two businesses as the result of short falls. Sarah’s first photography business, Mirror Image was established in 2013 after she was made redundant from a law firm. Boasting a large portfolio the successful business covered photography for schools, pet and family portraits.  Unfortunately after the announcement of a national lockdown and socially distant measures in place for the safety of the public, the keen photographer had to explore new avenues to make her dream job work. 

“All throughout the lockdown I was coming up with ideas on how to keep on going… I never had so much time on my hands, I had time to reflect think about the bigger picture… I had always wanted to do wildlife photography, but I thought that would be when I retired!” 

It was out of lockdown, Chewing the Cud, Sarah’s second photography business was born.

Based in Bardon Mill, Sarah already had a back log of stunning highland cow images and wanted to get the images on products for customers to enjoy, from giant canvases for your front room to water bottles, but juggling a new business and a young family Sarah needed business support. 

“Owning a business is managing everything, admin, sales, process, marketing… I definitely found marketing the hardest part”.

After hearing about Business Northumberland, and how it could help her, at a networking event Sarah got in touch and was given 1-2-1 support with a Business Growth Advisor as well as access to a programme of online workshops to support the digital marketing for her business.

Business Northumberland provides support to small and medium enterprises across the North East who are looking to sustain and grow their business online. The fully funded support programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Advance Northumberland, so there is no cost to eligible businesses when accessing the support.

With the knowledge of a Business Advisor and the support which acted like “an extension of her business” Chewing the Cud was put forward for the newly launched Northumberland Covid Business Response Programme (NCBRP), a brand new programme born out of Covid which is designed to help businesses recover and keep trading through these difficult times. The NCBRP programme supported Sarah to help get the new business off the ground by providing her with a fully functioning ecommerce website at no cost to her business.

NCBRP is a new service for businesses that have been adversely affected by Covid. The Project is funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority and delivered by Advance Northumberland on behalf of Northumberland County Council and the Northumberland Business Hub.  It has two elements - Business Advantage which can provide businesses with 12 hours of fully funded business coaching and Digital Advantage which focusses on giving businesses Digital tools to keep them trading including the ecommerce websites that Sarah took advantage of.

Sarah, with the support of both programmes, not only has a fully functioning website taking orders but she also has the skills to update the website with lots of exciting products that would have been sold at Christmas markets that have sadly now being cancelled. These much anticipated events mean so much to small businesses like Chewing the Cud who work up to them all year, however Sarah can now get her products online and sold to a much wider audience. 

“(I) definitely recommend it, especially in this uncertain time, starting a new business in a crisis, it’s about getting the right tools and knowing that you have people on hand. 

“The support has been has been amazing and the training is perfect, the online classes’ mean I don’t need to think about travel and I can fit them into my day … I can’t recommend the programme(s) enough.” 

Thanks to the support from NCBRP, Chewing the Cud now has a fully functioning ecommerce website hosted and maintained for a year, Sarah now has the skills to maintain and update the website as more products launch. Chewing the Cud looks forward to growing online and even selling overseas, why not take a look at the website and get your highland cow fix chewingthecud.shop 

To find out more about NCBRP and getting your business online with a fully funded e-commerce website please go to: northumberlandbusinessresponse.co.uk/

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