Since March, as countries across the globe continue to come to terms with the ever-changing and challenging nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the positives to emerge from the on-going circumstances is the sense of community that has been felt throughout various areas, business being one of them.
One Sir Thomas White Loan Charity borrower to have contributed to that sense of community is Emily Sowden.
A freelance design consultant and art director, Emily established her own Loughborough-based business to provide a service to fashion industry professionals and womenswear design specialists. Since we last spoke to her, Emily has developed her working relationships to expand her client base across 11 countries, including Australia, China, India and the United States of America.
Although that leads to what Emily describes as ‘some long working days’, it hasn’t detracted her from building up her own label ‘Palm and Paw’, a brand that produces matching human and pet accessories, which launched in stores locally in October 2020.
It’s amazing to think that there would be any time left for Emily to utilise. However, during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, Emily worked to support fellow business owners through her skills as a designer.
“I remember the only positive to come from the news and the pandemic at the time was the sense of community and seeing news reports of younger members of the community supporting those at risk from the virus, including those with underlying health issues or the elderly,” explained Emily.
“I myself have had a delicate health history and came under the vulnerable category, so I decided to self-isolate earlier than the lockdown, which meant I sadly couldn’t offer any physical help to locals at risk. I suffer from occasional anxiety, and like most people the sudden unknown situation we were thrust into meant my anxiety flared up. I wanted something that would offer me solace being by myself in my studio apartment so decided the best thing was to turn to my work, and to offer free help and design support to local businesses and individuals who I knew would suffer otherwise.”
Emily started to advertise free logo work and graphics support to any businesses needing it, with those taking up the offer including building suppliers, beauticians and more, some of whom had been made redundant, in addition to businesses running on a skeleton staff or single parents struggling to work whilst taking care of children.
“One of the biggest projects I worked with was an online community called ‘The Virtual Pub’, an initiative set up by a local landlady Joanne Bowtell, who decided to offer an online pub/group for solace and support during these hard times,” Emily revealed. “I did their logo, a range of graphic designs and most recently their t-shirts and merchandise. The group has been thriving ever since and was a really rewarding project to be involved in.”
In total, Emily donated her time, services and expertise to around 56 businesses, estimating a total of £5,000 in donated time.
“If I could have done more and given more time, I would have done,” insisted Emily. “The self-fulfilment I felt outweighed any cost of earnings I could have made.
“I feel very proud,” Emily added. “I have always been grateful to The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity for allowing me to chase my dream of becoming self-employed and a successful business owner, but to me the work I volunteered for during lockdown was amongst the most rewarding I have done. People were so kind in exchange for my work by offering presents, their expertise or their time back, which meant the world to me. To connect with people and to be able to feel you have done a small bit to help, during an otherwise stressful and scary pandemic, is the most positive thing I could have done, and I know it has been vastly appreciated.”
For more on Palm & Paw – and to see Emily’s range of products – please visit her website at www.palmpaw.store
To discover more about The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s business loans, which aided the start of Emily’s design studio, please click here