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Meet the Nottinghamshire mum who used redundancy to follow her passion and build a business

Elaine Bell

A mum who followed her passion to start a knitwear business after being made redundant is moving in to new bigger premises.

Elaine Bell, 55, of Stapleford, was made redundant in 2008 and decided to use the money to study for a degree, supporting herself with a new business, Sewing Belle.

Since then the company has grown and she now sells between 400 and 500 patterns every day to customers in the UK, Europe, Australia and USA through her website, eBay and Amazon.

On Friday, she picked up the keys to a larger workshop in Stapleford.

Mrs Bell has been nominated in the small business of the year and inspirational woman categories at the Nottingham Post Women in Business Awards.

She said: “It has been very challenging and a lot of hard work, but it has also been exciting.

“It was scary making the decision to go to university, especially as I had been offered a full-time job.

“However, I have always sewed and I had always wanted to be a fashion designer and I decided if I didn’t do it then I would be too old.

“What I did was the best decision and I have never had any regrets or looked back.

“The keys to the new place mean that we can grow, we have lots more space for things like workshops and more fabrics, it opens up so many more opportunities.”

Mrs Bell’s passion for knitting and sewing began when she was a child, when she used the scraps from her mum’s sewing to make dresses for her dolls.

She carried this on as a hobby but when she was made redundant she decided to take the plunge and re-train at university as a mature student at the age of 46, studying for her master’s in fashion knitwear and knitted textiles at Nottingham Trent University while her daughter was at the same university for her undergraduate.

During her studies she set up her own business, one which allowed her to work around her university and daughter’s schedules, and which now employs her husband and one other part-time employee.

It is on track to turn over £440,000 this year.

She added: “It was exciting that I could sell things on the internet whenever I wanted, that I had escaped the nine to five.

“Working online meant I could take my daughter to Guides, work for a few hours and pick her up afterwards, it gave me flexibility.”

Read more on Nottingham Post.

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