Former police officer turned entrepreneur Hayley Matthews opened Concept Corner in New Brighton with the help of The Women’s Organisation and the Enterprise Hub
Artists and artisans from across Wirral now have an amazing outlet to sell their wares thanks to the imagination and creativity of former police officer Hayley Matthews.
Concept Corner opened in New Brighton a year ago and is home to a number of local independent businesses offering a whole range of products from luxury homemade jams and fudges to bespoke real wood plaques and vegan candles.
After 26 years in the police the job was “starting to take its toll”. Hayley added: “I have children at home and I decided that the lifestyle that comes with being a police officer wasn’t for me anymore.”
So when redundancy was offered she decided to seize the opportunity for a new start. After speaking to local creatives across Wirral, Hayley decided that area needed a space for makers to showcase their work.
She dreamed of creating a supportive environment for quality local independent artists and artisans to trade and grow together under one roof in the heart of New Brighton.
However, Hayley didn’t know the first thing about starting a business. She explained: “As a police officer, I may be able to oversee football fans up and down the country, but writing a business plan felt like a whole different game – I didn’t know where to start.”
The fledgling entrepreneur sought business advice from The Women’s Organisation in Liverpool where she was supported under the Enterprise Hub business start-up programme, which is is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
She began working with senior business adviser, Claire Pedersen. Claire helped Hayley create a business plan and apply for funding which would allow her to purchase a building in New Brighton for Concept Corner.
Hayley said: “We have tried to create a welcoming space where there is something for everyone. I think people are slowly going back to shopping local and appreciating the time and care independent artists put into their designs.”
Concept Corner currently houses more than 20 independent businesses and has now expanded to deliver workshops. It offers everything from ‘How to Boost Your Teenager’s Confidence’, photography skills’, basic sewing, crochet and various upholstery courses through to a yoga class for beginners and even business and marketing concepts.
Hayley is a Wirral-proud woman with a vested interest in supporting the local economy of New Brighton, Wirral’s seaside resort which has undergone a £60m redevelopment scheme in more recent times.
She added: “I’m really proud to be based in New Brighton. It’s very cosmopolitan – you can feel the buzz in the area and the footfall coming through. When you shop at Concept Corner, it goes straight back into the local economy and that’s important for me.”
Recognising the difficulties older people face in getting out to complete their Christmas shopping, Concept Corner now takes its art to the community running craft fairs and coffee mornings across Wirral making sure art is accessible for everyone.
And to mark a year of success, Hayley was awarded ‘Retail Business of the Year’ at The Women’s Organisation’s awards, Celebrating Enterprising Women.
Nearly a year into her new business, Hayley said: “I love the building, the concept of the shop and meeting new people every day. I really believe in what I’m trying to do. I feel so proud coming to work every day. The shop is exactly how I envisioned it when I met with my business adviser all those months ago.”
If you’re thinking about starting a business, contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about the export support available.