Unique plant business thriving after owner's lockdown job 'shock'
- Credit: Chris Bainbridge
A former banker has harnessed the pain of being made redundant during lockdown to bravely launch her own business.
Nancy Bainbridge has started 'Plants for Living' from her home in Dereham, selling unique flora that might not otherwise be available in Norfolk.
She had been working as an operations manager with a financial services firm when the pandemic struck, and found herself furloughed for several months.
Mrs Bainbridge, a former bank manager, was then given the grim news that her job was being axed.
"I was in shock," said Mrs Bainbridge.
"I thought that was going to be my career for at least the next five to 10 years.
"I was really devastated, but things were so uncertain and, of course, they still are."
With her career plans suddenly in tatters, the 54-year-old was unexpectedly forced to go back to the drawing board.
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But one day, while decorating her dining room at home in Greenfields Road, Mrs Bainbridge had a bright idea.
"I wanted a nice big palm tree in the corner of the room and could not find one being sold anywhere in Norfolk," she added.
"What I didn't want to do was go online and order one with a big company."
Noticing a gap in the local market, Mrs Bainbridge got the ball rolling with starting up her own firm and, before long, Plants for Living was born.
She was fortunate enough to be successful in her bid for a grant from Breckland Council, allowing her to purchase a greenhouse and stock even more magnificent greenery.
What's more, Mrs Bainbridge sourced help from the county council's Go Digital funding programme to build her own website.
Having already sold dozens of items and begun to establish herself within a growing community, Dereham's newest business owner is delighted with her "happy ending".
She said: "I am really loving it. My husband and I were talking about how things can change in the blink of an eye.
"It seems plants are a real passion at the moment, perhaps because of the lockdown. I have met so many nice people and there is a really good community of plant lovers."