Taffy Bear founder Jane Pugh.
Jane Imrie

North East entrepreneur grows gift business with North East BIC support

An entrepreneur has launched her first business with support from a North East business support organisation.

Former leadership trainer Jane Pugh used the pandemic as an opportunity to turn her love for crafting into a business venture.

Jane launched her business Taffy Bear last year after securing support from the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC).

Jane, who was made redundant at the start of the pandemic, launched her business in July after attending the centre’s Creative Business Surgeries.

Taffy Bear specialises a range of gifts and jewellery, and has already shipped over 150 orders to customers across the UK, from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight.

Jane commented: “Starting a new business during a global pandemic can be a daunting prospect, however, the BIC gave me access to online and Zoom learning which really helped me focus on what was important, as well as helping me understand the legalities of setting up and providing a mentor who kept me on the right track and gave the encouragement I needed to keep going.

“I have only been in business since July, but I’ve already received orders from customers all over the UK through my website. I often wonder how different things would have been without Covid, however I couldn’t be happier with the decision I’ve made and the support from the BIC.

“I think the most pleasing aspect is the fact the majority of items I sell are gifts. Whether it’s a cushion with an image attached or a mug with something rude on to make someone smile, they all have a place in keeping people smiling and I think my customers have really bought into that, especially during such difficult times.”

North East BIC business adviser, Victoria Moodie, added: “Our Creative Business Surgeries were set up to help provide creatives with a platform to start and grow their own businesses and hearing stories like Taffy Bear just makes it all worthwhile.

“We were worried when the pandemic first hit that we may be forced to cancel our sessions and that it could dampen the entrepreneurial spirit of our participants, however our digital sessions have proved a huge hit so far and we’d recommend anyone thinking of starting a business to get in touch and find out more about the support on offer.”

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