This time last year, we were just about to be plunged into a year of on-and-off lockdowns, of uncertainty, and of endless spare time. I don’t know about you, but I spent 2020 flitting through a myriad of mindsets; feeling like I should be productive 24/7, wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to lie-in every day, as well as picking up a new hobby basically every week. For me, these hobbies were often short-lived before I moved onto the next one. I made a bucket hat out of my dad’s old jeans, embroidered patterns and quotes onto scrap fabric, and even tried to learn French for a couple of days. However, some people managed to make the most of 2020 by using their lockdown boredom to both start businesses out of their hobby or by using the opportunity to grow their already existing small businesses.

As life begins to return to normality, it’s important that we still support the small businesses ran by our fellow Liverpool students. In light of this, we interviewed the Liverpool students behind five small businesses to get the lowdown on their business ventures.

1. Groovinngarms

Groovinngarms was created way back in the first lockdown by Niamh, an Orthoptics student at the University of Liverpool. Niamh started off buying fabric and making tops to sell on Depop, but soon turned to upcycling in order to achieve the retro ‘reworked’ look that is popular at the moment. Using brands such as Nike, Adidas and Calvin Klein, Niamh’s designs give students affordable ways to bring designer brands into their wardrobes. Niamh explains how she’s trying to get more exposure for her Instagram (@groovinngarms) so that when lockdown is over, and people are going out more, they’ll be inclined to buy her designs for their post-lockdown adventures. You can find Niamh on Depop here.

2. Wowe Earrings

Wowe Earrings is a funky handmade earring business created by Lizzy, another student from the University of Liverpool. Lizzy describes her business as paper art, which she formats into jewellery. Her brand, which is mainly based around statement earrings and occasionally necklaces, was started last February when Lizzy found herself with a lot of spare time as a first-year Law and Music student. Lizzy’s pieces are custom made to order, and she has a range of designs that her customers can then choose the colour for. Her Instagram @wowe.earrings is a funky space, which at the moment is paying homage to the 70s collection she is currently releasing. You can buy your favourite Wowe Earrings design from Lizzy’s shop here!

3. Sasstainable suds

Ran by a Masters student at John Moores, Sasstainable suds is an eco-friendly beauty and self-care company run by Ellie. Ellie started her business as a result of the environmental aspect of her degree in Water Energy and the Environment, so that she could show the sustainable options of the cosmetics industry. Ellie sells soaps, bath bombs and baths salts, all under £10, making it extremely accessible to students. Sasstainable suds was started as a fun hobby in November 2020 for Ellie’s family and friends, but it was only in the new year that she began to sell outside of this. Ellie explains how she manages to stay on top of everything by making it clear to her customers when she is able to make and sell her products, highlighting that it is key to prioritise her university work and maintain honesty. To see what is for sale at Sasstainable suds, check out her Instagram here.

4. The Holistic Merchant

The Holistic Merchant is run by flatmates Mollie and Liv, one a Criminology and Sociology student at the University of Liverpool, and the other a Biomedical Science student at Manchester Metropolitan University. The business was started as a result of the two girls’ love for crystals and candles being combined as the result of a lockdown hobby. The duo started off making crystal infused candles for their friends and family but have since began to make larger high-quality crystal pieces and jewellery for their customers. As a result of an increased interest in self-care and meditation during lockdown, the girls claim that their sales have been boosted due to the calming atmosphere candles and crystals are thought to help create. If you feel like you could do with some more calm in your life, why not check out their Instagram @theholisticmerchant.

5. Melville Bakes

Another dynamic duo, Melville Bakes is run by first years Helena and Erin, who currently live at Melville Grove student accommodation. Helena explains how one day they were baking together when they realised that they could make some money together from doing something they really enjoy rather than getting part-time jobs. They explain how their bakes are of great quality and tailored to a student budget, as well as being flexible to whatever requests they might be messaged with. The girls describe the business as a good bonding experience due to all the quality time they spend baking together, making this a fun way for them to earn money during a pandemic. They explain their success possibly as a result of cafes being closed, meaning that people can’t sit in a cosy café for their sweet treat fix so are more likely to order from the comfort of their own home. Their bakes include custom birthday cakes, cookies, brownies and much more! To see what’s on offer, checkout @melvillebakes on Instagram.

So, whether you fancy treating yourself, your bestie or your family, why not support your fellow students by shopping with one of the small businesses in this article! By supporting a student-run small business, you’re not only helping a small enterprise to grow, but you’re ensuring that you’ll receive a top-quality product at student-friendly prices.