Enterprising family get creative during lockdown
A mother and daughter studying at Staffordshire University have both set up successful businesses alongside their degrees during the coronavirus pandemic.
June and Megan Evans have been busy crafting unique accessories and clothing at their family home in Middleton-by-Wirksworth, Derbyshire, for online shops that they each launched during the first national lockdown.
June, 47, was a full-time mum to her three children before enrolling on the Art and Design foundation course at Staffordshire University and is now in her first year of the BA (Hons) 3D Designer Maker degree.
After trying jewellery making for the first time on the foundation degree, June started her business Firehill Jewellery in May and began selling her wares on Etsy.
June explained: “The foundation course is great because you can try out a whole range of different disciplines. I’d never done metalwork before but I really enjoyed it, then my course mates began saying that I should sell my jewellery. I wanted to keep making and to keep experimenting, so I decided to just go for it!”
Without access to specialist equipment at home June created a range of jewellery from metals and polymer clay which can be fired in the oven and saw business boom over the Christmas period.
“I don’t do it for the money. I keep my prices low so that more people can access handcrafted products. Each item is unique, and I take care to use high quality packing to give customers a really special experience.
“Sitting at the table working quietly is so therapeutic and has helped to relieve stress during lockdown. At the same time, it is helping to build my professional profile so it’s a win win!”
Many of Megan’s products are inspired by her midwifery studies including badges, key rings and earrings to raise awareness of breastfeeding.
The 24-year-old said: “We learned on the course that the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. I wanted to do something to help break the stigma and encourage conversations about it so came up with the ‘boobie badges’!
“They come in a range of skin tones and have been really popular. A lot of healthcare workers wear them on their lanyards and I’ve also had customers who are breast cancer survivors. It’s just a fun way to break the ice and help people feel more comfortable talking about important health issues.”
Megan also sells clothing featuring her own illustrations including charity t-shirts to help raise funds for Breast Cancer UK and the NHS. Other designs include hoodies and joggers for fellow midwifery students to travel to their work placements in.
Since being back on placement the whole family have been helping Megan to keep the business going and all profits are being investment back into the shop.
She added: “Even my dad will come home from work and help to make clay boobies! It has really helped me get through the past year and it’s been nice to work together as a family.”
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Staffordshire University is the Connected University; connected to the needs of students, academic partners, business and society. Our main city campus in Stoke-on-Trent features excellent learning and teaching facilities and good transport links. We have specialist Centres of Excellence in Healthcare Education at Stafford and Shrewsbury.
We were recognised with a Gold award in the 2019 Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for students.
We were shortlisted for University of the Year at the THE Awards 2020 and were named ‘Midlands University of the Year’ at the Midlands Business Awards 2020.
Staffordshire University has signed up to the Civic University Agreement, pledging to play a leading role in improving the regional economy and enhancing quality of life in local communities. We were recognised in the top 15 for social inclusion in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. We aim to be a leading university for digital technologies building on our proud computing heritage and in 2019 launched Staffordshire University London’s Digital Institute which is committed to preparing students for careers in new and emerging tech industries.
We are a Top 250 Young University (Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2020) and are connected globally, with more than 11,000 people studying Staffordshire University degrees overseas.