'It's full-on' - Mum turns fortunes around with lockdown business
- Credit: Carla Grand
A mother-of-two who found herself in debt due to cancelled gigs after lockdown has turned her fortunes around with a home-run business selling personalised gifts.
Last year was set to be the busiest ever 12 months for Bradwell-based face-painter Carla Grand.
The 36-year-old had taken bookings for a string of events including birthdays and music festivals like Latitude.
"I had taken loads of deposits," Ms Grand said. "But then in March, with the lockdown, I was like, I can't face paint because I can't get near anybody.
"I thought, what am I going to do? I had to find money to refund everybody."
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She was not entitled to a government grant because she hadn't been self-employed for long enough - but she had always run another small business selling personalised gifts.
"It was always as a hobby, just a bit of fun," she said. "With face painting falling apart last year, though, I started to push this little business more."
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Since the country was living under sweeping social restrictions, she started off by making commemorative T-shirts, printed with the words, 'I had my birthday in lockdown', which she posted on Facebook and later Etsy and Instagram.
The advertisements were shared on social media and with word-of-mouth she began getting requests from people for gifts.
Not that it's been easy.
During the day, Ms Grand home-schools her two sons, four- and six-years-old, while at night she clocks in at the spare bedroom, which her husband has converted into a workshop, where she sits at her vinyl cutter, heat press, mug presses and printers, and makes gifts, personalising mugs, cushions, T-shirts, anything.
"It's certainly full-on, it's absolutely crazy," she said. "I don't get much sleep. When I'm trying to sleep I'm thinking of new ideas. My brain's like, I can do this, I can do that."
"But it's what I have to do, because I have to find this money to pay these people back.
"It's hard because I have my two little boys as well. It's been a challenge, but the hard work is starting to pay off, and I may not even go back to face-painting now, as this has become my main business."