Three Women Share What They’ve Learned From Launching Online Shops In Lockdown Website sq


"Everything I've Learned From Opening An Online Shop During Lockdown"

Have you ever harboured a dream of opening your own online shop? Here, three women who launched online shops during lockdown share their stories - and words of advice.

Throughout the lockdowns of the past 12 months, combined with redundancies, furloughs and commute-free mornings and evenings, many of us have found ourselves with more free time. It was the perfect opportunity to try something different, and many people took up creative hobbies, from candle-making to jewellery design. While for some, this was primarily a way to de-stress and switch off from the overwhelming news cycle, others took it a step further and launched their own online shops to sell their creations. According to a recent AllBright survey, 1 in 4 women have set up their own business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. And with more and more of us looking to shop online, as well as supporting independent brands – nearly Brits have said they’ll avoid shopping on the high street as a result of the coronavirus – those who chose to sell their wares online have found their businesses flourishing. Thinking about trying it yourself? Here, three creative women who successfully opened their online shops during lockdown share what they’ve learned…

Ellie Edwards is a food writer and printmaker based in Walthamstow, London. Soon after the pandemic hit, she launched her Etsy shop, , where she sells linocut prints of food and drink. During the first lockdown in the spring, I wanted to do something creative to keep myself occupied in the evenings, so I took up lino carving and printing. As a food writer, I started to think about all the amazing memories I had of eating out in my favourite restaurants, or picking up croissants from local bakeries. I decided to pair the two together, and started creating food- and drink-inspired linocut prints.  I launched an Etsy shop, as well as offering to create bespoke prints for customers. Working on commissions feels so special, as I’m being let in on a specific memory. Knowing people love and want to buy my work always feels amazing. 

"If you have an idea you’re passionate about and really believe in, I would say go for it. Things might be slow to begin with, but that’s a good thing – slow growth is sustainable"

Ellie Edwards, Founder of EllieEdwardsLino

Running a small business means that not only do I create the prints, I also do the marketing, social media, customer service, packaging and post office trips. It can be overwhelming balancing all of these things at once, but also really enjoyable – having the freedom to run the business the way I want to is very freeing. Since launching the shop, I’ve been surprised by the amazing sense of community and support from people in my local area, Walthamstow. A particular highlight for me was having a local coffee shop ask to stock my prints. Every time I get a E17 order, I try to deliver it by hand! I’ve discovered a great community on social media, too. Connecting with other creatives via Instagram and sharing tips and advice is absolutely wonderful. If you have an idea you’re passionate about and really believe in, I would say go for it. Things might be slow to begin with, but that’s a good thing – slow growth is sustainable. My other piece of advice? Make a spreadsheet. Keeping track of all your costs and the money you’ve made in one place is so useful – you can look back at it and see how far you’ve come.

Amelia Fairfield of makes and sells clay jewellery from her home in Sheffield. She began creating her colourful pieces during the first Covid-19 lockdown, then decided to launch an Etsy shop. On 27 March, as the UK went into a full lockdown, I lost my job. I was gutted, scared and anxious, and while looking for jobs, I decided that a productive, creative hobby would be a brilliant way to de-stress (there’s only so much bread one person can make, after all). I made earrings every day for weeks, posting them out to friends and family and sharing them on my personal social media pages. At the beginning of May, I made a separate page on Instagram, opened an Etsy shop, and Slow Goldie was born. Etsy stores are a great place to start – you can test the waters and see what people respond positively or negatively to. Most of my experience with the whole process has been overwhelmingly positive – people have been so supportive, and every time I make a sale, no matter how small, it’s an incredible feeling. I did struggle a lot at first with comparing my work to that of makers with years of experience under their belts and fully kitted-out workshops. The imposter syndrome never really went away, but I can definitely manage it a lot better now. I just love seeing people wearing my creations and hearing that they’ve brought them joy. 

"First and foremost, be kind to yourself and stay true to your identity – comparing yourself to others too much will steer you down the wrong path"

Amelia Fairfield, Founder of Slow Goldie

I’ve learned that I’m capable of so much more than I ever thought – I’ve never worked this hard in my life. It’s given me a new-found appreciation for the work and dedication that goes into running a small business. I’ve also learned that building a website is actually very different to customising your MySpace page!  If you’re thinking of launching an online shop, I’d say first and foremost, be kind to yourself and stay true to your identity – comparing yourself to others too much will steer you down the wrong path. Put your personality into your business, so that people know that when they connect with your business, they are connecting with you. And don’t neglect your downtime – give your work your all, but give rest your all, too.

Ricki Lawal, the founder of , started her business during the first lockdown. She creates hand-poured, vegan-friendly soy candles from her home in south-east London. During the first lockdown in March, like a lot of people, I found myself hand-making things – banana bread, sourdough, and in my case, candles. Candle-making was my go-to relaxation activity – I’ve always enjoyed scents and the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. There’s something about smells that can remind you of loved ones or favourite memories, and can really help to soothe you.   At first, it was just a hobby, and I gifted the candles to my family and friends, but it grew into an online store following George Floyd’s murder in May. After feeling disenfranchised by my previous employer’s response to Black Lives Matter, I set up a business in order to sell my wellness candles and raise money for the Stand Up To Racism charity with the profits I made from the sales of my CONSCIOUS candle. A few weeks later, my store had been picked up by the national press, I'd raised over £800, and the demand for more candles was huge. 

"To other women who are thinking about launching their own online shop, I’d say: just do it! Fear is just an excuse to be brave"

Ricki Lawal, founder of Selfmade Candle

A real highlight for me is making the little gift notes that people can choose to add to candles they’re buying for their loved ones. It’s such a privilege to be able to gain that special insight into the relationships of my customers. They share memories and well wishes on the notes, and generally just use them to stay connected. It’s taught me a lot about how close I want my own personal relationships to be.  When someone messages me to say that a loved one has received their candle and adores it, or when I get to make charity donations from the profits of my store, it fills me with a sense of achievement and purpose. I get to bring moments of joy to my customers and my community. To other women who are thinking about launching their own online shop, I’d say: just do it! Fear is just an excuse to be brave.

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