Updated: May 5, 2021
2020 will always be synonymous with the following: lockdown, banana bread, clap for the NHS and Zoom quizzes. Alongside all of these, there was a sharp rise in small business being created. Whether it was to cure furlough boredom or finally giving people the time to pursue their passions, it has indeed changed the business and consumer shopping landscape.
Small businesses became vital to keeping our economy going during the first lockdown and even more as the pandemic raged on. In the last 5 years, there has been a shift in the amount of female small business small owners, with 1 in 3 entrepreneurs now identifying as female. This is a remarkable growth as four years ago, only 17% of small business founders were female. The gender gap in British businesses is closing slowly but surely.
Women are leading the way, and The New Equilibrium want to introduce you to three rising talents. Below these small business owners tell us more about their collections, the importance of female business owners and advice to young female entrepreneurs.
After a sudden growth spurt in her bust during a bountiful wedding season, Dolapo struggled to find outfits that fit her proportionately. No longer willing to settle for clothes she didn't like and expensive alterations, she decided to change the fashion industry. "I thought to myself ", surely, I can't be the only one going through this?" and proceeded to conduct some market research where I surveyed over 150 fuller bust women asking a series of questions regarding clothes shopping". Her survey revealed that most women with a fuller bust were having similar issues and that the existing brands that catered for them were, in her words, "matronly".
The 27-year-old started working on Taideux in 2018 to create more youthful designs and stylish silhouettes. Following a few tweaks, the London brand officially launched in 2020 with success. "I've had customers from the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and Nigeria. It just feels so amazing to know that women all over the world trust my brand enough to buy from us". Regarding the surge of women small business owners in 2020, Dolapo is elated at the brands' diverse faces. "As a black woman, I was also really happy to see black female businesses being recognised. I hope things continue this way because there are a lot of women doing incredible things out there", she says.
Growing up with 4 sisters in Lagos, Nigeria, Dolapo has always seen herself as a feminist. "Women are so multi-faceted, talented and hardworking. It feels so great to be able to have a business that makes women feel and look amazing and confident. I feel very proud of what I've managed to achieve in such a short period of time and the representation I have brought to the fashion industry". Dolapo runs her business all by herself alongside her full-time job as an Innovation Project Manager. Girl power runs through Taideux as a core group of female influencers support Dolapo to build the business through social media. The future of Taideux is sustainable, with hopefully seasonal and loungewear collections landing soon.
To find out more about Taideux, head to taideux.com and @taideux on Twitter and Instagram.
Brand: Hannah Lily Designs
Hannah Lily, the founder of her eponymous brand, is a self-confessed stationery addict. She had always dreamed of creating her own stationery collection. "I had noticed a lack of stationery brands that represented my identity and preferred colour palette. And so, by incorporating my love for the practices of maintaining a positive mindset, I designed a range of feminine stationery products that would not only look beautiful but also inspire", Hannah says. Previously, she was training to become a solicitor and working in a firm as a paralegal. Hating her job, Hannah knew that she could be happier as an entrepreneur, so she took the jump.
Launched last August, Hannah Lily Designs has grown a supportive community infatuated with her luxury notebooks and planners. A brand that truly caters for students, Mums, Business Babes and all the dreamers out there. Recently, Hannah released a limited-edition coffee cup that Elle Woods would own. Like many small businesses, Hannah is the founder, designer, photographer, social media marketer, packaging team and accountant. Women can truly do it all. "Being a boss makes me feel on top of the world. There is something so empowering about going after your dreams". Hannah has also found herself a nurturing network of other female business owners. "We are like one big team, cheering each other on. I regularly chat with other small business owners, and we help each other navigate our way through the business world!"
Every purchase means the world to small business owners. It's more than income; it's knowing that someone out there loves your product. "The excitement never fades!" she says. Her drive certainly hasn't faded, and she's more determined than ever to achieve her goals and dreams. Hannah has big plans for her products to be on shelves in department stores. "I would love to see my products available in stores such as John Lewis and hope to release a large variety of stationery options for my customers", Hannah says. But most importantly, she wants to help her customers go after their dreams too. "That will always be at the heart of Hannah Lily Designs. I am so excited to see where this incredible journey will take us".
Find more about Hannah Lily Designs on her website hannahlilydesigns.co and @hannahlilydesigns on Instagram.
Brand: Lotta Blobs
While many people on furlough busied themselves with completing puzzles or redecorating their homes, graphic designer Shantelle Hyslop found herself drawn to making creative mirror frames. "I was looking for ways to occupy my mind and was working on a few creative projects at the time", she says. The 25-year-old creative works for a womenswear brand by day, and at night, she's crafting artistic designs for her brand, Lotta Blobs. "It was random. I had an old mirror lying around, and I just had the idea that it would be fun to make a frame out of it!" Her blobs (the endearing mirror frames) are inspired by Shantelle's keen interest in unusual homeware and fascination with colours being mood changers.
Her Art and Design background proved useful as she wanted to take her talents away from digital designing to be more hands-on. In September last year, Shantelle launched her Instagram page, and her small business has taken off. "I'm always in utter shock but super appreciative that there are so many people out there who want to support my small business", she says. Her blob mirrors are a sharp reflection of Shantelle's bright personality – from speckled to neon and pastel frames, you can see her heart and soul in each crafted piece.
As a one-woman-brand, she manages both her day job and side hustle in an organised manner, despite how tricky it can be. Shantelle is proud to be the owner of a female-owned small business. "It's definitely invigorating. My family always told me that I shouldn't allow social constructs to hold me back, so I usually don't give myself the praise I should. "However, when I step back and take it all in, I do feel proud of all that I have achieved so far as a woman", Shantelle says. Her message for all the young women and girls who are thinking about starting their own brands? "Just go for it and have the belief that you will succeed!"
See Shantelle's mirror collection at lottablobs.com and @lottablobs on Instagram.