Looking back at Norfolk's lockdown entrepreneurs and where they are now
- Credit: Archant/Canva
The coronavirus pandemic brought many changes to all of our lives. But for some, it gave them the push they needed to follow their passion – and it paid off.
Despite various lockdowns which saw businesses struggle to survive, this did not stop Norfolk’s innovative entrepreneurs.
Here are seven successful businesses born out of lockdown which are continuing to thrive.
Chesca’s, mobile pizza business and restaurant, Reedham
Chesca’s originally launched as Frankie and Joey’s mobile pizza caravan in March 2020 by Francesca Cornish Hollingsworth from Reedham.
What started as an idea to provide friends and neighbours with “great food” during the first lockdown turned into a successful mobile business.
Now the business, which continues to do deliveries from the converted caravan, has also found a more permanent home two days a week in Cannell’s farm shop on Reedham’s river.
The 32-year-old said: “I’m ecstatic with how this year has gone. It couldn’t have gone better.
“I am noticing that the trends for deliveries is coming back but having the caravan with a mobile pizza unit really is a life saver, especially if restrictions come back.
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“Businesses are having to evolve and diversify with the times. No matter what happens we will continue to pump out some epic pizzas no matter what Boris Johnson says.”
Monzu, mobile pizza business, Horning and various locations
Darren and Claire Cameron, from Horning, spent more than £40,000 of savings having a van kitted out with a wood-fired oven and other equipment so they can make pizzas just like they do in Naples.
The couple, who were made redundant, officially launched their business during the pandemic.
Despite a few hurdles along the way, they have built a reputation for offering tasty, authentic Italian pizzas.
The business is pitched at Ludham bridge caravan club on Thursdays and some Tuesdays from 5pm until 8pm, Hoveton village hall every Friday and Black Barn farm in Salhouse on Saturdays.
Mr Cameron said: “It has been an incredible journey. We have come quite a long way.
“We have been non-stop with only one week off all of this year. Obviously, it has still been quite challenging even when lockdown finished and we are still adapting to the changes.
“But we have a really good, loyal customer base.”
Bakeaholics, cake shop and deliveries, Attleborough
At just 19-years-old Morgan Lewis took the cake world by storm this year.
With more than 25,000 followers on her Instagram account, a cake shop in Attleborough, a new 2,000sqft baking warehouse and eleven staff members, Ms Lewis hopes to continue to build her cake empire in 2022.
She said: “When I look back on my 19th year, it has been the best year to date. I’m so excited to see what my 20th year will bring and if it can top 2021.
“It has been crazy but the business is going from strength to strength. I am so grateful for all of the support we have received.
“Next year we are looking to get a fridge lorry to do more shows and start postal delivery so we can send out treats nationwide.
“I’m also hoping to start a Bakeaholics YouTube channel.”
Poppys Norfolk wax melts, Dereham
Hollie Ikins, 33, started online business Poppys Norfolk from a studio in her garden in Dereham in January this year and it is named after her five-year-old daughter.
During the first lockdown they made wax melts together as a hobby, which they gave to friends and family and proved popular.
Despite being less than a year old, Poppys Norfolk has had tens of thousands of online orders and it is now stocked in major retailers.
This includes Highways Garden Centre in Framingham Pigot, Roys of Wroxham, Dereham, North Walsham and Beccles, the online shop on The Range and even Jarrolds in Norwich.
Ms Ilkins said: “We have gone the kitchen making wax melts and now we have two studios and a team of five people.
“It has been crazy. This was never in my plan for the future, but I'm happy it is because I get to be at home and it fits around my family. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I would still be in the beauty salon.
“Thank you to everyone that has supported us.”
Twin Bakes, cake business, various locations
Twin sisters who launched a cake business during the pandemic are enjoying a slice of success.
Rebecca and Bethany Sadler, 25, started Twin Bakes in June 2020 and they offer celebration cakes, cupcakes, tray bakes, cookies and cookie pies.
The pair, who also work in insurance, live in Bradwell and Horsford respectively and offer delivery in and around Great Yarmouth and Norwich.
Customers can also collect their baked goods and the pair offer nationwide delivery outside of the festive period.
The business has proved hugely popular, with lots of orders and sell-out pop-ups at places such as the Castle Quarter in Norwich.
Rebecca Sadler said: "We used to bake with our nan Jenny and she passed away in March 2019, she would be so proud of us."
Cocos, sweet delivery and soon-to-be shop, Thetford
Jade Bowles started Cocos as a sweet delivery business - formerly named Delivery Sweet UK - in May 2020 and it is now set to open a shop in Thetford.
The 29-year-old said: “It just took off from the get go. I started it by setting up a Facebook page in lockdown and it has been a whirlwind ever since.
“I have always been a sweet-lover and it was something I had thought about doing for a very long time.
“And look where I am now.”
The shop, owned by Thetford Town Council, has undergone renovations work and will officially open as the sweet shop early next year.
With the festive season in full-swing, Miss Bowles said she will continue to offer her delivery service but this will stop when the shop is in operation.
The Little Norfolk Farm, farm shop and farmers market, Horsford
Oakland Organic Eggs in Horsford changed its name to The Little Norfolk Farm to reflect the changing nature of the business since the start of the pandemic.
It has been run by couple Jessica Clements and Ashley Lawrence for the last three years and during the first lockdown they started doing fruit and vegetable delivery boxes.
In summer 2020 they also launched the Oakland Outdoors street food event and the pair started doing farmers' markets.
Their latest venture was the conversion of a shipping container into a farm shop.
Ms Clements said: “The business is going from strength to strength.
“The farm shop is doing better than I could have ever imagined. We are so busy; it has been crazy especially this Christmas - it has really taken off.
“We have continued to evolve which is what is needed in the current climate, you have to adapt to the changes.”