COVID-19 pandemic not a stumbling block for new businesses

New venture: Jewellery designer and artist Michele Cook from Utopian Living thanks customers for their support. Photo: Dwayne Cook

New venture: Jewellery designer and artist Michele Cook from Utopian Living thanks customers for their support. Photo: Dwayne Cook

The pandemic hasn't stopped businesses from opening, and thriving, in the region.

Jewellery designer and artist Michele Cook took action after finding herself without work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

People had commented on her jewellery creations over the years and she spent time during the pandemic being creative.

Mrs Cook saw the Wauchope shop space and her business, called Utopian Living, became a reality.

"As it turns out, it has been absolutely fabulous for me and the community," she said.

There has been strong community support, orders have come in from America and France, and Mrs Cook is booked through to March with commissions.

"Just to be able to unleash my creative side has been an amazing journey," she said.

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"For many people, COVID has been quite a soul-searching experience and I think we all have to, at some point in our lives, look at how we are living and really follow our dreams and passions, and do what we love."

Mrs Cook thanked the community and customers for their support.

Luisa Roach realised a long-held dream when she opened Squeaky Gate Farm Shop in early December.

Squeaky Gate Farm Shop

Squeaky Gate Farm Shop

"I've dreamt of this store for 23 years ever since I first travelled to the UK and saw farm stores over there," she said.

A shop space became available in Kew and Mrs Roach seized the opportunity to open her business.

Squeaky Gate Farm Shop sources fresh produce from Kempsey to Bulahdelah, as well as selling specialty food items and homewares.

There has been a renewed interest in home cooking during the pandemic.

Mrs Roach believes Kew will go ahead in leaps and bounds with the next stage of the Kew main street upgrade.

She said the community's response to the business had been very positive.

Sharon Drew, with decades of business experience, had no doubts about opening her Port Macquarie boutique, called Glasshouse Emporium, during the pandemic.

Great response: Glasshouse Emporium owner Sharon Drew has employed two staff since opening her business.

Great response: Glasshouse Emporium owner Sharon Drew has employed two staff since opening her business.

"The support from locals has been that fantastic I've been able to put on two local staff members," she said.

"I want to thank the locals for their support."

Blendz Juice Bar also came to life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt and Sharin Holland came up with the idea for the bubble tea and cold pressed juice bar during the temporary three-month closure of their other business during the height of the pandemic.

The Hollands, drawing on their business experience, were confident the new Port Macquarie business had the right ingredients to succeed.

Mr Holland said the community response had been really positive.

All smiles: Employee Savannah Smith at work at Blendz Juice Bar.

All smiles: Employee Savannah Smith at work at Blendz Juice Bar.

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