Lockdown has given many aspiring entrepreneurs the time to bring their ideas to fruition, turning their part-time interests and side ventures into fully-fledged commercial interests.
Certainly, with the flexibility and opportunities online retail offers, micro-businesses have been cropping up more frequently as more Scots launch exciting new ventures.
One inspirational example is Dundee mother-of-two Jane McCance who launched her jewellery brand in November last year. She says the new venture – Paper People – was created with mothers as the target market.
“It’s so hard for new mums, particularly just now in lockdown,” explains Ms McCance. “Being a new mum is a lonely place, as beautiful and as happy as you are with your baby, it’s really about the tribe.
“That’s one of the things that I’m trying to build as part of the culture of the brand; the idea that we need a tribe of other women to talk openly, to share, and to feel like you’re part of something bigger.”
The Paper People line features a variety of necklaces, earrings and bracelets designed to be easy to wear with everyday styles. “You can wear it with a Weetabix encrusted jumper or a going to work outfit,” says Ms McCance, who aims to build confidence by enabling mothers to feel good about themselves, even on days when they may be running short on time and energy.
Ms McCance is already familiar with the jewellery industry. Before having her two daughters, aged six and four, the 32-year-old entrepreneur was busy running her own high-end luxury jewellery brand after graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in 2009.
“I’ve always been quite entrepreneurial,” she adds. “I just really like the idea of being in charge of my own future. My first business was a high-end luxury offering that retailed in Harvey Nichols and the National Gallery.”
Ms McCance’s products also attracted celebrity attention, her bespoke pieces having been worn by Emma Thompson – and she also made the earrings worn by Scots singer Emeli Sandé on the cover of her album.
“When I became pregnant with my first daughter, I tried to keep it all going but that’s when I realised that there has to be sacrifice sometimes in motherhood,” she says. “I just felt I wasn’t doing either of those jobs as well as I could, so I thought now is a good time to step away.”
After immersing herself in the “world of motherhood”, Ms McCance opted for an entirely different approach to her new jewellery brand, making it more affordable, durable, and minimalist.
She says: “I realised how far down the pecking order mums sometimes see themselves in terms of their budget or their spending.
“I wanted to make it easier for mums to be able to indulge a little and to not feel any more guilt than they might already do on a daily basis for everything else that they do. I’ve made it so that the chains are made with brass that’s gold plated.
“I opted for brass because it’s really strong, and I know that these chains are exposed to a lot of little hands that are going to tug and pull at them. I want them to be worn and enjoyed and for people not to spend too much time being precious about them.”
Working from her husband’s workshop in Dundee, Ms McCance, who also works one day a week at the University of Dundee, admits she’s pleased with the initial response to Paper People despite the company being in its infancy.
“I kind of always thought there was a need for it, and it’s the type of thing I was looking for myself,” she explains. “I’m really surprised at how quickly it has become popular.
“I’m just starting to get into the wholesale market again and looking for some stockists – I’ve had a little bit of interest recently from Anthropology.”
Ms McCance says she is amazed the way the marketplace has evolved since her previous venture. She says: “There’s so much to learn – the change in ecommerce and algorithms – but that’s kind of what makes me tick. It’s about learning the benefits of what you’re doing which gives you a good buzz.”
Like most parents nowadays, Ms McCance admits time can be the greatest struggle, particularly with two young children out of school and nursery. “That’s the big challenge, just trying to sculpt little moments of time where I can actually do work…which at the moment is mostly evenings and weekends. But I’m lucky I can be flexible, and I can make it work.
“The goal is just trying to connect with as many mums as I can, and to be able to create that sense of community that hopefully comes with the brand.”