Single-mum of one Clair Simpson launched her Wedding Planning business during the Covid-19 global pandemic with the support of the Staffordshire Start-Up Hub.
Clair had previously worked in customer facing roles all of her life, she explains; “I have worked in nurseries with children under five and spent a long period of my career with Argos ranging from an order taker in the offices to dealing with high-level complaints.”
At the start of lockdown Clair, aged 39 had been working in temporary admin roles via an agency. As lockdown took hold, Clair was spending more time working from home and keen to find the balance between work and family life. Clair explains: “My teenage son struggles at school and seemed so much better with me at home. I am hoping the option to work from home and be around more for his support will be a good thing all round; for his stability, emotionally and financially for us a family.”
This wasn’t the first time that Clair had felt the spark of being a business owner in her belly. A decade earlier Clair had the ambition to run her own business but was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Clair reveals: “I did think about starting a business at that point but didn’t ever pursue it. There were so many factors as Coby was so young and I was poorly. My personal debts were at their worst having had to take sickness leave for 6 months because of my Cancer diagnosis and treatment. The thought of college as a mature student and the cost was daunting. I wasn’t sure how to go about starting a business and to be honest my mental health was a real issue which was affecting my confidence, so at the time I just feel strong enough to pursue it.
In April 2020, Clair from Stafford was referred to the Staffordshire Start-Up Hub by Job Centre Plus. “I’m not the most knowledgeable where law is concerned, and that’s where David at the Start-Up Hub has been the most help for me. Also, as a single parent, I’m not the flushest of people money-wise, so I had reservations about having to run my business on very little start-up capital.”
With the support and advice from the programme, which is funded by the Education & Skills Funding Agency and European Social Fund (ESF), Clair was able to launch Celebrate In Style – with Clair Louise in May of this year. The business has been operational for five months and provides a full or partial wedding planning service including on the day co-ordination, venue styling and wedding stationery. The business currently operates across the West Midlands with clients in Staffordshire, Shropshire, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham.
Clair explains how the support she’s received has helped her overcome her fears and provided reassurance: “I felt so much less stressed knowing I had the support when I needed it, and as if I had more clarity as to where I was going with things when I wasn’t sure what to do.” Clair describes the support she has received and how it’s helped her: “Advice as and when required, ongoing guidance as to what I need along the way. David has confirmed he will also be going through tax returns which will be interesting as I haven’t got a clue where to start. Organisational skills where keeping my banking in order is concerned. I have set up all my social media accounts, built my own website and set up business and invoicing, all with guidance from David.”
Taking the leap into a new industry, especially during the current pandemic can be daunting but Clair explains how her artistic side has now become her career : “I have always been quite artistic and am very house proud as far as my decor, enjoying the likes of candles, flower arranging, fabrics, colours and general decor. The curious side of me made me research venue styling. Whilst researching, wedding planning showed to be a profitable side to the industry and can be done alongside venue styling. I also considered wedding fayres a good way to offer a chargeable service whilst at the same time also helping to get my brand out to brides-to-be.”
Clair has taken the Covid-19 pandemic in her stride and worked with the Staffordshire Start-Up Hub to ensure her business is reactive and adaptable so as to weather the storm, she comments: “Particularly being faced with COVID restrictions and how the wedding industry has had to change in the way things can be done, David has given me ideas to help offer options. David has also set up a number of ways where networking with other companies can be achieved, also showing how the same principles can be used within the specific industry.”
The Staffordshire Start-Up is jointly funded by the Education & Skills Funding Agency and European Social Fund (ESF) to provide telephone and email support to people in Staffordshire who are considering self-employment. To find out more about the Staffordshire Start-Up Hub email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about Celebrate In Style – with Clair Louise visit www.celebrateinstylewithclairlouise.co.uk, email email@example.com or follow Clair on social media at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CelebrateInStyleinwithClairLouise and Instagram: celebrate.in.style.uk.