16 people who switched careers during lockdown share their best advice

From juggling working to home schooling, to furlough and redundancy, this year has not been the best for millions of UK workers.

Businesses have struggled to get by, whole sectors have slumped and people who were happily getting ahead with their careers have found their worlds turned upside done by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latest figures show UK unemployment surged to 2.76 million in August and a study in May revealed that millions of people were considering a career change during lockdown.

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But there are some brave souls who’ve turned crisis into opportunity and used it to fulfil a dream.

And according to former Dragon, James Caan – 2020 could well be the year of the lifestyle business. Speaking exclusively to us as part of his ebook giveaway on how to start a business and get the perfect job, he said the employment market is more flexible, and more people are learning to work for themselves.

“This situation today that we are in could be the emergence of lifestyle businesses,” he said.

Here are 16 people who have shared their career switch success stories and give their advice if you’re thinking of following suit.

Sophia Procter founder of Munchy Play

Sophia Procter, London

From communications to CEO

When Sophia was made redundant from her job in communications with British Airways, she decided to plough all her redundancy money into launching her own children’s brand, Munchy Play. It has designed and manufactured the first-ever children’s plate with a built-in track for toy trains and cars.

Sophia said: “My toddler was a terrible eater – not only that, he would never sit still at the table. Frustrated with this, one day I put his train and track around his plate and in that moment everything changed. The opportunity was too good to pass up, so I took redundancy and ploughed every penny into making the first kids’ tableware range with a track. Completely bootstrapped, I carried on freelancing until the product was ready to launch.

“The plan was to launch Munchy Play the minute it was production-ready – of all times that happened to be in the middle of a global pandemic. I was freelancing at the time and inundated by SMEs asking for help with crisis communications and PR support. It was a worrying and uncertain time, so I decided to press pause on my product. Then, sometime around May, the market started to change. Instead of crisis support, I was getting new business requests for product launches, and realised we had turned a corner.”

Sophia noticed around June that the popularity of parenting hacks was on the rise with families at home with children off school during lockdown – and she knew it was the right time to launch her product.

Sophia said: “Going from working for a global brand to starting your own business is a massive change. I love what I’m doing now, but naturally I miss the social side of my previous career. Press trips, photoshoots, and working with such a great team – it was always exhilarating. Ironically, now everyone’s working from home, so I guess there’s less FOMO.

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

Launching your own business is exciting, courageous and ballsy. Can I say that? It is! I think it’s right to give it due consideration and thought, because it will change the course of your life. The Japanese call it ‘ikiga’ it means your ‘reason for being’ – once you find that, nothing will stand in your way.

Jill Hudson, creator of Santa Academy with her son Max

Jill Hudson, County Durham

From procurement boss to app creator

After a decade running businesses, including Hudson Procurement Group, Jill decided to make the leap during lockdown to create the Santa Academy app, allowing children and Christmas-loving adults to enjoy interactive magical Christmas stories from the safety of their own home.

When lockdown hit and international travel came to a halt, Jill suddenly found a lot of time on her hands.

She said: “A normal day would see my travelling the UK to meet with clients, managing clients in 14 countries, launching an office in America – and then lockdown happened, and suddenly, all of the time travelling wasn’t needed anymore.

With after school activities also at a standstill, Jill decided to re-ignite her son Max’s love of reading by pressing ahead with turning her idea for a Christmas story into the app.

She said: “I’d always planned to make Santa Academy into a product at some point, but the plan was for a physical enrolment box for Christmas 2021. I quickly realised with the number of redundancies, that parents didn’t need another expensive product, they needed an affordable product, and they needed it this year to bring some magic to the home whilst the more traditional ‘visit Santa’ activities can’t happen.

“I’ve never been the type to sit around doing nothing, so every day I ensured I used every bit of energy that was given to me that day, and turned my novel – Santa Academy, into a magical Christmas experience for kids.”

The essential guide to Lockdown 2.0

As for how life has changed, Jill said she has always been good at multi-tasking.

She said: “I can literally go from having a conversation about tendering to Santa all within the same 60 seconds, and I absolutely love it. Now that we’re marketing Santa Academy, I’m having to re-train myself that I’m no longer having a conversation with a commercial buyer, I’m talking to a Mum, Dad, Grandma for example, and after 20 years of commercial board level discussions it’s taking some practice.”

” I’ve surprised myself that I’ve totally stopped worrying about things that are outside of my control, and I think COVID-19 has done that for me, instead I focus on what I can do. For me, that includes ensuring the experience I create for kids as magical as it can be.”

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

My advice, is that, believing in yourself is the most powerful thing you can do. Belief ignites passion, passion ensures results. For what you lack in experience, make up by being the hardest worker in the room.

Poppy Lepora who gave up a career in marketing to open an online sex toy boutique

Poppy Lepora, London

From marketing to online sex toy boutique

Poppy took the plunge into starting up Self & More in September, investing her redundancy money into stock for the shop.

After studying journalism at university, Poppy went on to work in marketing for seven years, most recently at a science magazine but always wanted to start a sex-positive store – and lockdown was the perfect time to do it.

Poppy said: “I don’t think I’d be in the position I am now, working on the business full time, if the whole nation hadn’t have been locked down and in search of new ways to find pleasure during what has, of course, been a difficult time for everyone.

Poppy said that even just over the course of the year, there’s been a visible shift in people’s attitudes and sales sky-rocketed during lock-down. She said: “For us as a small, independent company it was a really pivotal moment in our business growth and incredibly exciting. Beyond that, on a personal level, being at home and regaining those hours which would usually have been spent commuting into central London meant I could really focus on creating content and generating sales in a way I hadn’t been able to whilst working in an office full time.”

Poppy said she misses the camaraderie of working in a team and misses bouncing off ideas off a group of people but has been buoyed by feedback from customers who have realised that their experiences are totally normal.

She said she used to keep work inside work hours and treated weekends and evenings as precious downtime.

“Since working for myself that has totally changed,” she said. ” Now I’ll work late into the evenings and during the weekend without a second thought, and I’m genuinely happy to do it. I’m legitimately surprised at the change in myself.”

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

If like me, you start pursuing your dream while working another full-time job, there will come a time when you can’t physically put your best into both and you have to make a decision. Quitting to pursue your dreams is scary, but you have to do what makes you happy and think of your long-term goals. You’ll know when the time is right, and that decision is up to you and no-one else.

Danielle Dunn runs Divine Box, making handmade bath bombs and toiletries including soap, shampoo and shower gel

Danielle Dunn, Derbyshire

From carer to bath bomb maker

Danielle, 33, runs Divine Box, making handmade bath bombs and toiletries including soap, shampoo and shower gel.

“I came up with the idea for Divine Box after years of making bath bombs for myself and perfecting my own recipe.

“I have employed six members of staff, who had all lost their jobs thanks to Covid, while my partner has also joined the company making bespoke moulds for my designs. I also have a team of 200 reps selling Divine Box products all over the UK.”

Danielle has worked in the care industry since she was 16, moving into management before eventually becoming a trainer.

“I started making products for myself and selling my bath bombs to family and friends, then friends of friends. It was a hobby really but in January this year, a time when it would normally be really quiet in this industry, I was still really busy. It made me think that I had to give it a go – it had always been a dream of mine to run my own business.

“I handed in my notice and finished my job in March. I’d been in my new workshop just five days when lockdown began. I panicked, just like the rest of the world. I had no idea what would happen to the business, especially since I wouldn’t get any financial help from the Government.

“I wasn’t going to give up though and moved everything back home. We could get in the kitchen to cook, but otherwise the whole house was taken over. I literally had products, boxes and paperwork in every single room.

“It turns out that little luxuries such as bath bombs and bubble bath are exactly what people want during a dark time like lockdown and we have barely been able to make products quickly enough to keep up with demand.”

Danielle said that if she’d known that lockdown was coming she would not have chosen to leave my job. “But everything happens for a reason, and I’m glad I did it,” she said.

How Covid-19 is changing how we live and work

“In all honesty I haven’t really had time to miss anything! I loved my old career and I had worked hard to work my way up the career ladder. I have always been very hands-on in whatever role I had, and I miss that side of it.

“I have always worked in the care industry and now Divine Box is all about self-care which has never been more important. I am still bringing people comfort and a little bit of happiness – so I am still in a caring role really.

“Divine Box makes me unbelievably happy because I’m proud of my products, proud that I have been able to give seven people new jobs and proud that the business has grown so quickly. It’s been a real pinch-me moment.”

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

“Absolutely go for it. I hope my story inspires others to never give up and sheds a bit of positivity during this terrible year. Everyone should follow their dreams because if I can do it, anybody can.”

Phil Kemish and Matt Thorne, founders of reboxed, a London-based start-up that’s on a mission to ‘rehome’ 100 million mobile devices by 2030

Phil Kemish, Brixton

From social marketing agency boss to online mobile phone trader

Phil Kemish and business partner Matt Thorne started up reboxed in September, the UK’s first on-demand platform to sell, swap and shop preloved and refurbished phones.

Phil sold his social marketing agency and was lost about what to do next.

He said: “I spent a year trying to work through this and knew I wanted to create a business that could balance purpose and profit. I wanted to tackle a big problem and create a change that would have a positive impact on people and the planet.”

He said that lockdown gave him the opportunity to really focus on getting the businesses live.

He said: “I had the time to study the circular economy business models and pull together amazing freelancers who helped to craft the brand and software. I worked remotely with a team in India and Devon to create the tech and we even hired our first staff members over Zoom.

“We would have always made reboxed happen, but I do believe that lockdown helped to amplify our ambition and forced us to create lean processes to get there faster.”

Phil said that he misses nothing from his old career. “I enjoyed winning the clients and seeing projects come alive, but servicing them is hard work and the business model means you’re selling time. No matter how good you are, you are constrained by that model,” he said.

“I talk about reboxed being my business baby and one of the things that makes me happy is seeing the reactions of other people to the brand. Whether it’s someone getting their first iPhone or using one of our eco-cases, I love seeing the brand in the wild and people engaging with it.

“The other really proud moments have been working on the environmental impact areas, such as getting our B-corp pending status and also hitting 700 trees planted in our reboxed forest. I’m excited to see how we can scale these areas.”

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

DO IT. Life is way too short not to just take the leap, have faith, be prepared to fail and know that on the other side of the fear is everything you ever wanted your life to be.

Jemma Johnson, St Albans founded Elodie Pictures during lockdown

Jemma Johnson, St Albans

From fundraiser to filmmaker

Jemma worked as a fundraising consultant for a theatre before the pandemic and really loved her work, But overnight all performing arts venues were closed, her hours were reduced and she feared that they might cease entirely in the future.

It was then that she followed her dream of starting her own business, Elodie Pictures – making bespoke films from photographs and videos that would otherwise go unloved on mobile phones.

Jemma said: “Without lockdown, I would not have made the leap to set-up Elodie Pictures. In March, it felt like the world was a chaotic place, everything was in disarray and all the rules had changed. At the same time, I felt a nostalgia for old times which made me appreciate the films I had always made for family and friends. This was combined with finally having a moment to think about a new life plan, as I gained the time that I would normally spend commuting and rushing around.

“Lockdown gave me the time, freedom and the space to re-evaluate and to think about things with a more open mind. The lockdown daily hourly walks were also the perfect time to daydream. During normal life, I don’t think there was time to think creatively in the same way.”

Jemma said she misses the sociable aspects of her former career.

“In my old world, there were always lots of new people to meet and engage with, plus lots of events. It’s a lot of fun organising live events and I really miss being in a packed room, networking, chatting and drinking wine. I really miss my old work colleagues too.

“What makes me happy now is delivering a film that makes someone else so happy. I get quite emotional when I hand over the final film. Family life isn’t always perfect for sure, but I think watching all the best, funny and heart-warming moments is incredibly powerful. It makes you remember the good times and celebrate yourselves in a way that perhaps we don’t always have the time to do when life is so busy.”

Nadia Butt, Reading, founder of Inner Canvas during lockdown

Nadia Butt, Reading

From planning manager to crafter

As a new mum, Nadia had been running art therapy sessions after she was made redundant on maternity leave from her job as a planning manager with Centrica British Gas in 2017.

But when lockdown hit and she could no longer see students face to face, she came up with a new business idea – and set up Inner Canvas, supplying modern craft subscription boxes to customers during lockdown.

“I am so pleased about the genuine difference I make in peoples lives. People have benefitted so much from my course and now I’m getting some really beautiful feedback about my subscription boxes, especially about how it’s been a lifeline during lockdown.

“Helping people reconnect with themselves through the simple act of expression can have lasting impacts and I’m so honoured to be able to be a part of people’s ongoing healing.”

She said that she misses the companionship and teamwork of her old life at Centrica, British Gas but has found great job satisfaction in her new role.

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

To take one tiny action towards your goals every single day as these will compound and you will get there. Don’t wait to feel motivated, action breeds motivation, starting feels scary, but once you start there will be no stopping you. Remember your WHY when things get tough and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, just go for it.

Melanie Gail, Harrogate

English language teacher to wedding celebrant

Melanie worked as an English language teacher in Harrogate, teaching foreign students but when lockdown came, she was furloughed until the English School closed its doors for good and Melanie was made redundant.

She said: “I could see that foreign students would no longer be coming to UK for english lessons, and so, at my brother’s suggestion, I decided to retrain as a celebrant. It seemed a good fit with my skills of listening to people, giving presentations and working in a warm and friendly environment. So voila – I retrained and finished my course in Sept 2020.”

“If lockdown hadn’t happened I’d still be there teaching, so it really was the prompt for my career change. My new job has given me the chance to learn all sorts of new skills (not just the celebrant skills) such as building a website and learning social media strategies. It has also given me a similar buzz to my old job in that I meet new people from all over the world. The celebrant community is like a village that unites to help each other.

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

It’s as easy to stay in your comfort zone as it is to stay in your PJs in lockdown. If you have an idea, or a dream, make a plan and then take small steps to get there. If you take big steps you can be overwhelmed as I have sometimes. Give yourself chance to grow and reach out and find your tribe that can support and help you.

Lorna Smith, West Sussex set up ESTeam Coaching

Lorna Smith, West Sussex

From HR to life coaching

After a 15-year career in HR, Lorna was about to make a fresh start in a job in the airline industry just as the pandemic hit, grounding the entire sector.

A fortnight before she was about to start the job in April, she got the news that her role had been put ‘on hold’ indefintely.

It was then she decided to take a real leap of faith and set up ESTeam Coaching. As a certified Confidence & Mindset Coach and NLP Practitioner (Life/Personal Coach), Lorna helps women to create a life they’re excited to wake up for every day.

She said: “Having already left my previous HR job, having sole responsibility for a mortgage and household expenses as well as being prepared to start my new career, this was devastating and the future rapidly became uncertain.

“So, when lockdown was introduced, I made a conscious effort to use it as an opportunity. Lockdown gave me the time and space to explore what I am passionate about and EsTeam Coaching was born.I am so excited to be able to help and support others in my new venture. It really feels like I am doing what I’m meant to be doing career wise and I am now so looking forward to seeing where the future takes me.

“Had lockdown not happened, I would not have had the same degree of ‘quiet’ to reflect and contemplate my future. Therefore I don’t think I would have even realised that this is what I really want to do or should be doing.”

Lorna said she misses her old colleagues because owning your own business and working from home can be lonely.

She said: “Starting and running your own business can be hard and what has surprised me the most is how determined, motivated and resilient I am when I am doing something I truly enjoy and am passionate about.

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

In short, go for it. I wish I had done it sooner.

Practically:

  • If you can’t or are worried to dive in with both feet immediately, don’t let that put you off. Start taking steps alongside your current job or commitments and build it up. A little progress each day adds up to big results
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for support, there is no shame in it.
  • Lastly, don’t neglect your wellbeing – more action does not always equal success if it leads to burnout. Make sure self-care is on the ‘to-do list’ so you can recharge properly.

Darren Teagles, Warwickshire, creator of indoor cycling training app CicloZone

Darren Teagles, Warwickshire

From trainer to app developer

Darren, a former professional cyclist racer launched indoor cycling training app CicloZone during lockdown – taking advantage of demand while gyms were closed.

Darren began his cycling career aged 18 with the UK’s team Raleigh Banana before joining professional road cycling Team Andalucia Cajasur, in 2001 racing competitively in Spain until retiring in 2012.

He went on to work as a consultant to top cycle studies and strength and conditioning coaches all over Europe, most recently as a Master Trainer for the leading indoor bike manufacturer Keiser.

And when he was offered redundancy, he said it was the perfect time to launch the app. He said: “I had been thinking about developing an app to bring all the benefits of road-cycling training to the indoor cycling market for a while but the closure of gyms at the start of the pandemic accelerated those plan.

“I sometimes miss the camaraderie of being part of a road racing team but the indoor cycling industry is full of brilliant people and it’s great to be able to build something new with them.

“CicloZone now allows me to work to my own values. I’m not dictated to by market forces affecting a large employer. I am an educator and a trainer I’m not a salesman so my reward is found in results felt by my customers and not in a balance sheet. I have actually been surprised by the amount of love and support I have felt, from so many people across the globe since stepping out on my own with my own project. “

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

My father once said to me during the economic crisis of 2008, through which I owned two gyms in Andalucia, “Always remember there is great opportunity in times crisis and change.” He was absolutely correct. If you see past the immediate difficulty and see the bigger picture, it is the perfect time to step into a new venture and build something remarkable.

Rhian Williams, Swansea went from project manager to sober coach during lockdown

Rhian Williams, Swansea

From project manager to sober coach

A very personal realisation has led to a whole new way of life for Rhian.

Rhian explains: “A week before lockdown, I finally admitted to myself that I was alcoholic. I documented my sober journey on Instagram and really enjoyed the connections within the online sober community and helping others who were earlier on in the process than I was – this has led to my decision to start sober coaching as a business.

Rhian set up In My Sober Skin – an online service supporting people nationally and internationally. Rhian works with women who are questioning their drinking habits, by breaking the stigma of having a ‘drinking problem’ and giving them tools and strategies to cut down or quit drinking so they no longer feel ashamed.

Rhian said: “I am enjoying helping people, I feel like I am making a difference. As a Project Manager working in health I was always envious of the nurses and support workers who had direct contact with patients and interacted with them. In project management you are quite far removed from the end result of your work. Being a sober coach I am there, working with these fantastic women and seeing them change their lives. It is the best feeling in the world.”

She continues to work in part time as a project manager but hopes to eventually make the sober coaching a full time profession.

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

It is never too late to change your career. There is no rule that says just because you landed in a certain profession in your 20’s that you need to stay there until retirement. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be a Project Manager for the rest of my career even though that wasn’t what I wanted. When I got sober and realised this opportunity I just had to go for it, my gut was telling me. Find a job that makes your heart happy.

Roger Jackson, London – boss of online B2B platform Sensecheck

Roger Jackson, London

Senior executive turned boss of online B2B platform

The pandemic gave Roger something he’d never had enough of before – time. For the former executive at global corporates Unilver and Mondelez, the idea for SenseCheck had been brewing for a while.

And when the pandemic hit, he suddenly found himself with a much-reduced schedule – no more plane trips, conferences and long meetings that came with the day job – he realised it was now or never and got moving.

Roger said: “I launched SenseCheck during the pandemic. It is an online platform developed for B2B SMEs to support each other by giving and receiving anonymised, honest feedback on their marketing plans and campaigns.

“A lot of people will have spent that extra time exercising, walking the dog and spending more time with their family. While that’s all great, it wasn’t inspiring enough for me and my family have been hugely supportive, knowing that I’d be like a bear with a sore head if I didn’t get on with something “productive” – bringing my vision to life.

SMEs have been battered by the pandemic and this was another reason why I knew it was the right time to launch SenseCheck to support these entrepreneurs. My vision is for SenseCheck to become the UK’s largest benefit focussed community of B2B entrepreneurs. It’s more important than ever that they succeed because they are the long tail that powers the UK economy. I believe the SenseCheck community can help them do that.

Roger said he misses the certainty of a paycheck and a pension plan that comes with corporate life.

“I do miss the camaraderie, the reassurance and belonging that comes with the scale of the place, having lots of smart, motivated people always at hand, the social side, and in particular the ability to do big things because of the resources that are there at your fingertips.

“Now, I love the sense of freedom. I love being able to decide how to manage my time and to avoid time “wasting”. There’s something wonderful about knowing that everything I do can be in support of my personal goals and not anyone else’s.

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

At the end of your life you don’t want to look back and think, what if? That applies as much to business as to anything else. Yes, there’s always a risk when you go it alone, but what people often fail to remember is that there’s always a way back if things don’t go to plan. The pandemic is likely to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, freeing up time so that we can properly take stock. Quite simply, if you don’t do it now, when will you, and if it’s “never” will you always regret it?

Gurjinder Bhogal, West London From FTSE 100 city job to marketing firm – Black Mamba Marketing and Events

Gurjinder Bhogal, West London

From FTSE 100 city job to marketing

Gurijinder left her corporate job to set up her own events business just over two years ago. But when lockdown hit and events were cancelled, she had her first zero income month for the first time.

And that’s when she called on her marketing experience to re-focus her business, Black Mamba Marketing and Events.

She said: “I always wanted to incorporate my marketing experience into my events business but just never had the time. When lockdown came about time was the one thing I had in abundance. I experienced my first zero income month in April 2020 as all my events were cancelled so I had to pivot my business somehow. This seemed like the perfect time to incorporate my marketing into my business and rebrand as a Marketing & Events business. Without lockdown, I don’t think I still would have done this. I managed to do more in the first three weeks of lockdown than in the whole two years of my business.

What does she miss from her old job? “Furlough! So while I was working really hard to build my business and focus on my marketing, people around me were actually enjoying being paid to stay at home. People were cooking, doing fun stuff with their kids and I was stuck in my office working away. But I’m in a much better position going into Lockdown 2.0 with all the work I’ve already put in.

“I have been surprised at how many people needed my services and why I didn’t do this sooner. I love the people I meet on this journey and just being able to help them with their Marketing Strategy and doing events in a different way. I get messages from people on a daily basis telling them how my strategy and advice is helping their businesses.

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

Just do it. You won’t regret it and when an opportunity like this presents itself give it your all as you just never know where it will take you.

Kayleigh Johnstone started COZ Personal Representation, specialising in virtual assistant support to PR agency owners and freelancers after she was made redundant

Kayleigh Johnstone, Cheshire

From PR account manager to virtual assistant

Before Kayleigh launched COZ Personal Representation, specialising in virtual assistant support to PR agency owners and freelancers, she was working in travel PR – but that came abruptly to an end when the Covid-19 pandemic grounded the travel industry.

She explained: “When I lost my position, I spent a sleepless night debating my options – seeking traditional employment, pitching myself as a freelance PR manager, or changing direction entirely. I decided that I needed the flexibility to set my own schedule and that here was an opportunity to ‘pivot’ (don’t we all hate that word now?!) and start doing what I really loved. I can say with certainty I would not have made the break otherwise as I was extremely content (or thought I was) in what I was doing before.”

In her old job, Kayleigh was continually drawn to the administrative side of PR and her new business helps her tap into those key skills.

She said: “It felt like a bit of a ‘now or never’ situation, and as I was also home-schooling, the appeal of maintaining some flexibility was strong. There was also very much a vibe of upskilling and retraining which was quite inspiring.

“In terms of what I miss, I massively miss the press trips, and some of the amazing travel journalists I had the pleasure of working with over the years. I do not miss the enormous levels of stress I now realised I was under.

“What I have found most surprising is that this is a success! From a very intentional slow start, September was an explosion for me. I am now almost at capacity, have four lovely clients on retainer who I really enjoy working with, and am looking at bringing someone in to support me. I never thought I would be in this position. What makes me most happy is that I know every minute of effort and stress is for the benefit of my family and my business.”

What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?

Write down what you want to do and why. Talk to trusted friends and family. Every morning wake up and tell yourself what you want to achieve. Then one day, you will be ready to take the plunge – and you should.

Laura See, London shoe designer

Laura See, London

From architect to shoe designer

Laura always had a passion for shoes and a love of art but she put it on the back burner while she pursued a career in architectural design. It was a tragic event that triggered the birth of the Laura See brand Laura’s husband died after only five months of marriage. At the time, she found herself sketching as a therapeutic pastime, and she kept
revisiting the things she loved as a child: shoes. Re-evaluating her life, she gave up her 15 year long career to move to Italy on a part scholarship, studying shoe design at the famous Istituto Marangoni on a footwear design course.
On graduation, Laura completed a short internship in Italy with IDEE Partners, a prototype producer for the luxury footwear and accessories industry.

Laura came back to the UK in September 2019 and started working again as a health & safety consultant.

Lockdown was a “now or never moment” and gave Laura the impetus to get creative and design her shoe collection with the official launch due in the Spring.

She said: ” I wanted to create a brand that represents positivity, confidence and versatility, and for this to be reflected in the women who wear these styles.”

Jasmine Bull from Kent, 14, who launched beauty brand BeautybyJasUK

Jasmine Bull, Kent

From student to beauty boss

Jasmine, 14, started her beauty range, BeautybyJasUK, while at home during lockdown. Inspired by her mum, who works for a beauty company, Jasmine set to work on making her own products once her schoolwork was done for the day. Her products use natural ingredients, are vegan friendly and use recyclable packaging.
Jasmine said: “My sister and my nan both suffer terribly with sensitive skin. I wanted to try and help them – and others – and I realised that I loved the aspect of finding ingredients that are beneficial for the skin, and making formulas to come up with a great product.”
“Lockdown gave me the time and access to the knowledge to really develop some of my ideas, which I have never had before.
“It doesn’t feel like work as I enjoy mixing the products and it feels amazing when I get feedback from customers that I have helped their skin and made them feel good. It is so rewarding. It hasn’t all been plain sailing but when it has gone wrong it has been really good to think about how to rectify the issue. I just love the whole process and challenge of it all.
What would your advice be to others dithering about whether to make the jump?
Just go for it. What is the worst that can happen? In these times we are
in, everything is uncertain but we will all get through it. My mum always says don’t regret something you didn’t do because at least you tried and if it didn’t succeed you learn from the experiences.