I was inspired to start my business …

A few years ago, while I was working as a language therapist but I was unable to continue, after I became unwell and housebound.

I was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease but I received a package from a friend that was a thoughtful care package. Throughout the days I was struggling, I kept coming back to that gift and that is what inspired me to start ‘Bear Hugs’. The idea is that you can send a bear hug in a box to anyone, to those you can’t be with when they are feeling poorly, to send as a gift for someone’s birthday or even just to make them smile.

 

 

My favourite thing about running my business is …

So many things – more recently is growing this idea that started on the top floor of the house to opening our own office at The Workstation in Sheffield.

 

My least favourite thing about running my business is …

There aren’t many things I dislike about running my own business but if I had to say, I do find it hard to take a holiday and to switch off. I love the business and so I can’t help but think about it 24/7.

 

The three words that best describe my business are …

  1. Hopefully – lovely
  2. Empathetic because it is all about letting other people know you are thinking of them and gift-giving.
  3. Cosy. Our office is super-cosy, we are covered in fairy lights and spend all day giving and sending cosy bear hugs.

 

 

Sheffield is a great place to start a business because …

Firstly, it’s a great city in general with lots to see and do.

But in a business sense, there is a huge amount of support. There’s been so many people who are willing to help me. I’ve had support from both the University of Sheffield and from Sheffield Hallam University which is amazing.

I’ve also had support from the Prince’s Trust Yorkshire and I was even lucky enough to win their Young Enterprise Award.

 

Sheffield is a great place to grow a business because …

There is such an amazing sense of community – the independent companies all help each other in Sheffield and there’s a lot of help and support here. Also, it is just a great city!

 

The best advice I ever got was …

It’s really hard to just pick one. But I think, although it is not business advice, it really has helped me with ‘Bear Hugs’ and that advice is from my mum. She tells me to be kind to yourself. I use this in my business as when I’m kind to myself my business benefits and I work better.

 

What advice would you have for someone wanting to start their own business …

First and foremost – go for it! It is the most exciting and rewarding thing that I’ve ever done. So, if you are thinking about starting your own business then do it.

 

The main challenges facing my industry/sector are …

Competitors. There are competitors cropping up all of the time so I’m having to establish my brand and clearly communicate why ‘Bear Hugs’ is different and why it makes such a great gift.

 

 

The furthest I have done business is …

The furthest that I have sent a ‘Bear Hugs’ is actually Australia. I have also sent a package to each corner of the U.K, from the North of Scotland to the South West of England, even to the Isle of Lewis. So, we’ve been lucky enough to have received a lot of support.

 

In 5 years’ time, I expect my business to …

Offer part-time and flexible job opportunities for people who are suffering from a life changing or fluctuating condition that has affected their employability. Because I have been there, when I first got diagnosed with Lyme’s disease, where you have to quit your job, are unemployed and struggling to find work.

I would love to be able to offer as many of these part time jobs as possible. So, this isn’t a hope – along with continuing to send ‘Bear Hugs’ to customers, I am making this my mission.