An award-winning business is hoping to expand as it looks to open franchises across the country.
Sunderland vintage crafts and tearoom business Katie’s Garden is celebrating a successful year since winning the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards New Business category.
Mum and daughter team, Rachel, 28, and Kathryn, 53, Meadows, have gone from strength to strength.
Rachel, a former teacher, said: “Franchising the business is the next step. As the business grows we will be looking to branching it out into separate areas.
“We have had so much interest about this and our five year plan is to open the next Katie’s Garden. “The nearest region is the Newcastle and Anwick area, but we would also like a few dotted about, in places like Leeds, York and Manchester.
“But we still want to keep the business bespoke and special.”
Currently based on High Street West, the business is a family affair, as Rachel’s father-in-law James Lumley provides invaluable help behind the scenes, and her fiancé Craig Lumley, has provided investment.
Sunderland BID have also been a ‘phenomenal’ help to the business, which has seven staff, providing them with advice and support along the way.
Alongside their main premises where children’s craft parties are held, the business duo have also linked with Hampton by Hilton in Newcastle, providing them with craft parcels for children who stay at the hotel.
Rachel added: “We came up with the idea after realising there was nothing for little ones to do at these expensive hotels, so we thought, how good would it be for these craft parcels to be waiting on the bed when they arrive.
“We supply Hampton by Hilton and have been approached by lots of different companies to do the same. It has moved a lot faster than we could adapt, so we have put expanding this to back to the end of the year.
“At our retail premises, we do craft paries and also out and deliver educational workshops in primary schools.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a year. We weren’t expecting to win the Portfolio Award, so it has been amazing.
“It is our best award because it was our first award and it really spurred us on, making us realise that it wasn’t just a hobby, it was a growing business.
“I would say to the businesses thinking about putting themselves forward for the Portfolio Awards this year, just go for it, as you have got to put yourself out there.”
The search for this year’s contenders is now under way.
Make it Sunderland is again our headline sponsor, and will sponsor our overall Business of the Year Award, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award, which is in the sponsor’s gift.
Make It Sunderland is also backing the contribution social enterprises make to the city in the Social Enterprise Award.
Other sponsors are Maxim, K&L Groundworks, UKasl, North East Business & Innovation Centre (BIC) Gentoo and Age Concern.
To nominate, send your name, address and telephone number, the name of the person or business you wish to nominate, along with their address, telephone number and email (if known).
State which category your nomination applies to (from the list of categories) and provide a description of the reasons for your nomination (no more than 300 words).
Post your nomination to: Nicola Meldrum, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The closing date for nominations is Friday, September 2, 2016.