An online arts business set up by a Salford student after being placed on furlough has been an instant success.
Sophie Leuty launched Sleuty Designs in October, which offers custom minimalist prints and original designs through an Etsy page and the Virtual Christmas Markets Facebook page.
Sophie said: “I set it up because of the fact that I am furloughed, so I’m not working. I didn’t really expect the page to be as popular as it was straight away.”
Etsy has generated more than 30 sales of her line drawings with more coming via Facebook.
She said: “It’s a long time to not be able to work and I’m short on money, but it’s also something that I could do as a hobby and to be able to get paid for it is just a bonus.
“I think I got lucky with setting the page up now before Christmas, rather than months ago when people were saving money.
“Plus, I think more companies will venture online now so they won’t be as affected by their shops shutting.”
Covid-19 has torn through the high street with clothes shops such as Warehouse and Oasis closing. The already struggling Arcadia empire is on the brink of closure and businesses and buyers are desperate to secure a Covid safe shopping experience.
The UK Virtual Christmas Markets page on Facebook advertises small businesses, offering homemade gifts all around the UK to thousands of potential customers.
The page allows buyers to comment requesting recommendations for specific gift ideas to the hundreds of sellers, and then they are flooded with suggestions for gift ideas.
Online shops such as eBay and Etsy saw the number of buyers increase by a third while shops were shut.
Sophie continued: “I’ve got Uni for an hour almost every day, and then I’ve got the rest of the day free to sell things.
“It’s just a great time to be starting something like this, especially getting closer to Christmas more people will be buying things, and it’ll be worth it in the long run.”
One worry Sophie has with owning a small online business is the huge shift in bigger more established businesses pushing for online sales as well.
“People are naturally going to shop the brands they know and where they feel like they can get a bargain.”