'It's full-on' - Mum turns fortunes around with lockdown business

Carla Grand

Carla Grand, 36, who lives in Bradwell, has been working day and night during lockdown, homeschooling her two sons and making personalised gifts. - 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."

One of the personalised gifts made by Bradwell-based Carla Grand.

One of the personalised gifts made by Bradwell-based Carla Grand. - Credit: Carla Grand


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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.

A cushion personlised by Carla Grand, the Bradwell-based businesswoman who runs Carla Louise's Gifts.

A cushion personlised by Carla Grand, the Bradwell-based businesswoman who runs Carla Louise's Gifts. - Credit: Carla Grand

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."

A personalised mug made by Bradwell-based designer Carla Grand.

A personalised mug made by Bradwell-based designer Carla Grand. - Credit: Carla Grand

"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."


 


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