Blyth-based start-up business, DW Styling, has flourished despite being established at the beginning of a global pandemic.
This has been helped by two Northumberland-based business support programmes - Business Northumberland and Northumberland Covid Business Response Programme (NCBRP) both delivered by Advance Northumberland.
With over 30 years of experience in the retail industry Debbie Waddle, managing director of DW Styling, established her business at the beginning of March 2020 and boasts a host of services including; style consultancy, personal styling, wardrobe decluttering and outfit sourcing for special occasions.
Covid-19 hit and Debbie knew she needed to alter the way her new business would run, but she was still determined to follow her dream.
She heard about Business Northumberland through a friend and after registering to the programme in June has since attended six fully funded virtual digital workshops including in Microsoft Excel, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media and Pinterest.
Debbie said: “Business Northumberland has given me the confidence to do things I wouldn’t have done previously, like setting up paid ads which has helped my reach of customers. I have worked really hard on getting more followers on Instagram and expanding my online presences since attending the workshops”
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.
After working with Business Northumberland Debbie was then introduced to NCBRP.
NCBRP is a new service for businesses that have been adversely affected by COVID-19. 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 and Digital Advantage.
Debbie signed up to the Business Advantage element of the new programme and gained 12 hours of one to one support with a dedicated coach. This focused on business planning and helping her to understand which direction DW Styling should take to ensure maximum coverage and engagement with potential customers, while adhering to social distancing rules.
Debbie continues: “Creating a business plan has supported the growth of my business. I didn’t have one in place prior to the support from NCBRP and now I have something to look, follow and look back on to help continue to grow my business, connections and online presence.
“The support has been really valuable, without it I wouldn’t be as far as I am now. I would recommend any business to apply to these Covid response programmes, even if you think you know everything about a subject, there will be something you don’t and it can set you on the right path. Register for as many courses as you can!”
Emerging out of lockdown with a successful business plan, full ecommerce website and a new found confidence with social media, Debbie can look forward to the continued growth of her business and attending more digitally focused workshops.
Cllr Richard Wearmouth, Chair of Advance Northumberland and Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Northumberland County Council said: “It is great news that Debbie has not only benefited from existing Business Northumberland support but has very quickly become one of the first enterprises in the county to benefit from new support through the Northumberland Covid Business Response Programme.
“We are doing everything that we can to support businesses across Northumberland to cope with and recover from the impacts of Covid-19. I encourage business owners to take a look at these programmes, or to get in touch with us to discuss their needs.”