Business: Dagenham mum starts kids bag company after redundancy left her unemployed

Leonora Hayes and her daughter Ariana, three.

Leonora Hayes and her daughter Ariana, three. - Credit: Archant

A mum-of-two left out of work for the first time in 21 years took the opportunity to turn her entrepreneurial dreams into a reality.

Leonora Hayes and her daughter Ariana, three.

Leonora Hayes and her daughter Ariana, three. - Credit: Archant

Leonora Hayes launched her children’s accessories business Happy Hayes in March after the leisure company she worked for made her redundant last summer.

The 38-year-old designs and makes colourful bags and other items for girls out of vintage, up-cycled locally sourced materials and sells them online and at craft fairs.

Leonora, of Bosworth Road, Dagenham, said she struggled to find work after losing her job.

“It was tough, there just wasn’t much around,” she explained. “Then one day I was at Dagenham Job Shop and I mentioned the idea of setting up my own business.

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“They put me in touch with Barking Enterprise, who help small businesses get off the ground, They were fantastic, giving me loads of tips on things like marketing online and tax implications.”

Boosted by her new knowledge, Leonora took three of her rings to a jewellers, sold them for £95 and bought her first stock of fabric.

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“After making a few of the bags I set up a Facebook site, where people can see what I sell,” she explained. “I’ve also been going to a few craft fairs, which have gone really well.”

Leonora spends around five hours a day putting together the accessories, and works part-time at a supermarket to supplement her income.

She said her two children, Jensen, seven, and Ariana, three, are big fans of her creations. “They love them, though Jensen thinks I should do a line for boys, which I will. I’m thinking pirates.”

Search Happy Hayes on Facebook to see Leonora’s work.

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