Not only is Norfolk a pretty face, with its countrysides, beaches and Broads, this “bootiful” region of the country is also home to some of Britain’s best small businesses.
Norfolk Day takes place on Friday 27 July, with an aim to celebrate the East coast county in all its glory. So move over Delia Smith, Business Advice has compiled some of Norfolk’s entrepreneurial success stories to find out what makes this section of the UK so special.
Emily Andrew Events
Proving the stereotype of J-Lo type wedding planners who take full control and walk around with headpiece walky-talkies wrong, Emily Andrew has unblocked toilets, rescued cake decorations and reset tripped electrics.
After leaving a career as a buyer, Andrew moved back to where she was raised to become the parent and businesswomen she aspired to be.
With low start-up funds she set-up a website herself, niching to Norfolk weddings in the hope that Google could begin “finding her.”
What’s the best thing about building a business in Norfolk?
Andrew said: “Being based in Norfolk my clients are generally coming to me because they have an empty field they need transforming into a fabulous wedding or event venue with marquees and I love the creativity and the scope that such a project gives.
“I am massively passionate about Norfolk as a county and what we have to offer here. The wedding industry here is close-knit and very supportive.
“There are so many amazingly talented individuals and businesses and I love building productive relationships and working with the broad spectrum of industries we have on offer here, both from a supplier and client basis.”
Andrew claims that keeping up with brides revolving demands can be challenging due to the proliferation of social media research from her clients.
She added: “Keeping up with the ever-changing social media algorithms is also a challenge but it is an absolute necessity for the wedding industry as so many brides are planning their weddings with Pinterest and Instagram.”
When Matt and Teri Legon just couldn’t source quality chocolate products for their sweet shop, they decided to make their own. Gnaw chocolate was founded in 2011 after they embarked on a mission with cocoa at the core to bring the fun and excitement back into high quality chocolate.
Their artisan chocolate is carefully handcrafted in their “Gnawfolk” kitchens with locally sourced ingredients and natural flavours.
Gnaw is distributed to countries all over the world, and with different countries holding different markets, Matt tries to introduce different quirks for each audience.
Gnaw founder, Matt Legon said: “We also always look to incorporate something unique to the culture of that specific country. In China, the colour red brings people good luck, so we look to incorporate more red into the designs of the Chinese packaging.”
Legon’s best advice for other startups is to create sustainable relationships and to build a team with people who are passionate about your brand as you are.
He added: “I believe that the key to Gnaw’s success is the development of strong, long-term working relationships with business partners and distributors.
“The Gnaw team are a dedicated bunch. Passionate, committed with a solid belief in the brand and the businesses ambitious growth strategy. The New Product Development team keep a close eye on the market ensuring that they stay one-step-ahead of their competition with their next exciting, quirky product.”
U & Your Skin
After suffering from acne and being in the beauty industry for 13 years, Louise Thomas-Minns has developed a soon-to-be-launched skincare range, Louise Thomas Skin Care.
In 2007, she founded U & Your Skin in her home city of Norwich, after building up a client base as a mobile skin therapist.
Thomas-Minns said: “After healing my own skin issue I realised that I’d created a formula that worked! So then I created my signature facial approach.”
She believes that Norfolk is overlooked as a business hub, and for her, it is where she has a strong support network.
“It’s an underrated, underestimated county. We have so many amazing entrepreneurs and opportunities. I’ve found a lot of the core people that I work with to support me in all aspects of running a business right on my doorstep,” she added.
Although she has personally found recruitment difficult, she enjoys the challenges of business.
Thomas-Minns said: “Recruitment can be tough as I have a very specific philosophy in how I train my therapists, so standards must be high.
“I’ve yet to find anyone that enjoys the accounts side of the business. But there’s always something to learn so I’m certainly keeps you on my toes.”
After working for a number of F1 teams including Lotus, Kia Cammaerts initially founded sister company Ansible Design in 1998. This division specialises in creating high quality simulation tools for motorsport. In 2008, Cammaerts had the opportunity to look at developing a full scale driving simulator and Ansible Motion was formed.
Rather than copy what was out there, Cammaert’s team literally got out a clean sheet of paper and looked at how we could create an immersive experience for drivers of virtual vehicles.
When asked what challenges Ansible Motion has faced, Cammaerts said: “As a new company up against more established and bigger organisations, we have had to fight hard. Our solution is very different and our engineering customers are typically conservative.
“Buying our technology was initially a gamble. Now we’d like to think that it is seen as the right way and in fact, we now have supplied some of the world’s largest car makers as well as F1 teams.”
What’s the best thing about building a business in Norfolk?
Cammearts said: “For an engineering business such as Ansible Motion, we are able to find highly skilled and talented sub-contractors in the region. We specifically located in the area to draw on the pool of talent and support industries in the area. We are based in the Hethel Engineering Centre that operates as an incubator for businesses such as our own.”
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