Elite Blinds is a family business, run by Paul and Rachel Wilkinson from Usworth Enterprise Park. They set up in September 2010, providing high quality, made to measure blinds at affordable prices. We were delighted to catch up with Rachel and ask her a few questions about COVID and the importance of shopping locally.
What made you start the business?
During the last recession there was talk of redundancies at the firm Paul worked for previously. Having gained 10 years worth of experience, and I had already been self employed for a long period of time, we made the decision to go for it and see what happened. Paul worked on the Taxis whilst we established the business and, thanks to the amazing support we have received from the people of Hartlepool, the business has grown steadily over the last 11 years. We have worked very hard and taken our time to get things just right.
What do you love best about being based in Hartlepool?
Definitely the people, our customers are amazing. The people of Hartlepool really get behind their local businesses and this Covid crisis has cemented that fact. We are eternally grateful as it could have been so very different. No business is perfect and we don’t claim to be, but we always provide, honest advice with good quality products at a good price and the people of Hartlepool respect that.
Why is it important for people to shop local?
Every time you shop local you are supporting a real person or family. Boosting the local economy and jobs market, which in turn boosts the area in which we live. We love to shop local and support our fellow businesses as much as we possibly can.
What COVID measures have you put in place after the pandemic?
We have followed all of the guidance set out by the government. Wearing masks, sanitising between customers, cleaning down, offering card and BACS facilities, asking customers to respect social distancing and opening windows etc for ventilation. We want to ensure the safety of our customers and ourselves at all times.
What have you missed most through the pandemic?
To be honest we have been one of the lucky ones and we really are thankful for this fact. With people being at home they are spending time decorating and our business has grown due to this. So from a business perspective we haven’t missed anything aside from being able to speak to our customers, as we would have done normally, without the need for masks and maintaining our distance. However, we have missed normality, seeing friends and family, and having to juggle the business through home-schooling 4 of our 5 children was very challenging but hopefully we are on the home stretch now and better days are ahead for all of us.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be yourself always, being different or having big ideas is not a bad thing. Always give everything you do 110%, as hard work always pays off in the end.