An Aberdeen woman has created her own online homeware business amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Rachel Sim launched Spruce Homeware, which offers a selection of kitchenware, soft furnishings and home decor, last October.
Despite being anxious about starting a business at a fairly young age, the 22-year-old decided to throw herself in at the deep end.
And she has shown her support for the North East Now campaign as it aims to promote local firms battling through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The North-East Now campaign, driven by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, and backed by creative agency Hampton and Aberdeen Journals, is shining a light on local businesses.
Rachel, who lives in the city centre, said: “I graduated from Robert Gordon University in July 2020 amid the pandemic when jobs were scarce and decided to take this as an opportunity to create my own business.
“At first, I was nervous about starting my own business at a fairly young age. However, I knew that I would never know if it could work until I tried.
“I have taken all the opportunities I can to learn about the industry, market and business, and have worked hard to create a business I am immensely proud of.”
And she explained it’s now more important than ever that our interiors are stylish and comfortable, given that people are working from home and homeschooling.
Rachel added: “We have a great selection of products for giving old rooms a new look and stock a wide range of products. From ceramics, to cushions, to artwork, there is a huge variety of items to choose from.
“During the pandemic, when we are all spending so much more time at home, it is so important to have attractive and comfortable spaces to live and work in.
“I have been so impressed with how many small firms have adapted during the pandemic. So many artists and creators have turned their hobbies into a business – since lockdown caused furloughs or redundancies.
“Because of this, we have started stocking a number of small businesses’ homewares and are currently looking for more local artists who create lovely homeware that we can offer as well.
“I’d like to think that Spruce Homeware creates a space where consumers can shop from a selection of small businesses goods on one website.
“This allows people to support their local communities and economy, and receive great customer service, without incurring additional delivery charges.”
Rachel uses social media to publish updates regarding her collections and is currently working on the business’ spring/summer collection.
And after winning the Scottish Institute for Enterprise’s Fresh Ideas competition in December, her winnings – which involved a cash prize, business mentorship and further training opportunities to help develop the business – will be reinvested in small businesses to be stocked by Spruce Homeware.
“The pandemic had a huge influence in how we developed the brand,” Rachel said.
“Due to the restrictions, all our business is carried out online and orders are dispatched and processed to meet government guidelines. Our customers’ safety and wellbeing is at the forefront of all that we do.
“Online platforms and social media have been wonderful tools, without which we would not have been able to launch our business at this time.
“Despite the challenging circumstances of the pandemic, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to spend more time with my family and invest this time into developing the business.
“We will continue to be open 24/7 but will ensure that customers can access our website and receive our goods with minimal risks to their health or wellbeing. Orders are delivered directly to customers’ doors to save them having to travel or leave their homes.
“And as the business develops, Spruce Homeware hopes to offer more artists and businesses a space to share and sell their lovely homewares. We are frequently updating our offering to include new products and businesses.
“We are striving to become more sustainable, investing in products and a business model which are environmentally friendly. We cannot wait to see where the future takes Spruce Homeware.”
The North East Now campaign online hub has made it easy for people to support local firms from a wide range of industries including food, drink, fashion, beauty, lifestyle and more.
Rachel said: “I think the North East Now website is a great asset to the local community and is a great tool for discovering local businesses.
“I particularly think the ‘Shopping List’ section is a very creative way to promote local food producers. There is a great variety of firms featured on the website from a number of different industries.
“I believe North East Now shares the same values as my business, in that we both have a passion for supporting local businesses and reinvesting our time and money in the local area.”