St Ives seamstress hopeful of business recovery after wedding lockdown turmoil

Lauren Laurence, from the Laurel Tree, is hopeful her business will take off when the lockdown eases.

Lauren Laurence, from the Laurel Tree, is hopeful her business will take off when the lockdown eases. - Credit: LAUREN LAURENCE

There have been many stories of entrepreneurs born out of lockdown, finding niche skillsets and watching them flourish within their community.

From arts and crafts to catering services, one only has to peak on social media to find a new page to follow. For Lauren Laurence and The Laurel Tree, launching a new business hasn’t been the success that she envisaged – but that could be about to change.

After a protracted process, where she agreed to a redundancy package with her employer, she followed her passion and life-goal – albeit earlier than she wanted – by launching her own bridal seamstress business in October 2020.

With more than 10 years’ experience of sewing and altering every type of garment, from soft and lacy wedding dresses to leather motorcycle trousers, as well as possessing an enviable reputation within the industry, Lauren had laid the foundations to forge a successful enterprise.

While under no illusions as to the challenge she set herself, by launching a seamstress business during a pandemic, the direction and speed of which COVID-19 took at the end of 2020 meant the dream quickly turned sour – with only a handful of bookings to fall back on.

“Once redundancy was confirmed, I started planning immediately: I created and launched a website, put all the necessary administration in place, so I could hit the ground running. At this time, the country was not in lockdown and I had begun networking with a series of local bridal shops, it was exciting and encouraging – then lockdown was brought in at the beginning of November, stopping everything.

“Emotionally, it took its toll; I was prepared, I was ready to go then the brakes were slammed on. I was stuck, I couldn’t do anything. Bridal shops were closed, people weren’t allowed to get married – unless in exceptional circumstances – and no fittings could take place for those brides crossing their fingers for 2021.”

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According to current Government guidelines, as of March 29, up to six people can attend a wedding in any setting. From April 12 no earlier, up to 15 people will be allowed to attend a ceremony and reception, potentially rising to 30 in May.

From June 21, at the earliest, the Government hopes to remove all limits on social contact; therefore, weddings could resume as normal.

Prior to the government sharing its roadmap for leaving lockdown and restrictions easing, Lauren was anxious and fearful that The Laurel Tree would be forgotten and cast aside as a result of brides not searching for dresses.

She said: “Because of my stuttering start, I didn’t know how much work would come from individuals or bridal shops – circumstances may have changed because of the pandemic, such as couples deciding to wait a couple of years due to financial constraints or bridal shops being forced to close – that was the massive unknown for me.”

Thankfully, fast-forwarding to the Government’s announcement in February, The Laurel Tree is most definitely open for business. In just over a week, Lauren received a dozen bookings, from a range of brides and bridal shops.

Lauren admits that she had to watch as The Laurel Tree limped from month-to-month during the pandemic and that was tough to digest; however, she paid tribute to her husband, Craig, and her two children, for their devotion during a challenging time: “They’ve been unbelievably supportive, and I couldn’t have got through this without them.”

Now, Lauren’s patience is paying off, and The Laurel Tree is becoming the family business she always wanted and she hopes this is the real beginning of her business and her dream can become a reality.

To contact Lauren, based in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, contact: 07712 573126 or email: info@thelaureltree.co.uk. 

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