Exhibition stand designers Envisage Associates has launched a new business after seeing work come to a complete standstill during the pandemic.
The Stoke-on-Trent business – which specialises in display solutions for events, visitor attractions and retailers – decided to adapt its business model in the wake of the pandemic after coronavirus restrictions put a stop to events across the world.
The company used members of its existing workforce to start manufacturing children’s play equipment and furniture from its Brick Kiln Lane headquarters.
But what started out as a temporary measure has now turned into a brand new arm of the business – known as Little Bugs Co.
Alexand Vedo, e-commerce manager at Little Bugs, said: “At the start of lockdown last year all events and exhibitions were cancelled, so all of our normal work came to a complete halt.
“It was a really scary time, but we decided to utilise the resources that we had, such as the workshop downstairs where we have joiners, painters and labourers, and diversify our workstream completely.
“Our managing director, Alastair Wilkins, actually came up with the idea of Little Bugs after his friend wanted a mud kitchen for his children – and now it’s its own separate business.
“We sell children’s furniture and play equipment with a key focus on the montessori method of education which is based around hands-on learning and collaborative play.”
Since the company’s launch, Little Bugs has seen a surge in orders – from an average of just seven consignments a month to over 1,300 a month – and has created seven new jobs.
It manufactures and sells everything from kitchen help steps, little wardrobes, table and chair sets and play equipment.
Alexand said: “It’s been really good. We’ve got a great team on-board now who are really passionate about the success of Little Bugs and we are really pleased and proud that we have been able to create some new jobs at what was a really uncertain time.
“At the beginning, we were a little bit concerned about how both businesses would run alongside each other but now we’ve got a separate team within Envisage who concentrate on Little Bugs and it’s working really well.
“We recently launched a new website and we’ve had some good feedback on the back of that; we’ve also got a few new products launching this month that we’re really excited about. The plan now is to continue to grow the product range.”