Cheshire East entrepreneur’s creative wellness initiative rewarded with grant boost

BusinessCheshire East entrepreneur's creative wellness initiative rewarded with grant boost

An entrepreneur from Cheshire East has launched a creative and wellbeing venture after securing funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Semper Hopkins Upholstery & Interiors, founded by Emma Semper Hopkins, received a four-figure sum to kickstart her new group upholstery workshops for businesses. The grant was used towards the cost of new benches and tools, marketing and website development, and consultancy for new product development.

“I want to thank Manchester Metropolitan University for all their support throughout the grant application process, as well as all the learning I have taken from the Cheshire & Warrington Business Growth Programme,” said Emma, 40, whose premises are located in a former chapel at Scholar Green.”

Other improvements include a refreshments bar, meeting and strategising areas, and tech and presentation facilities. “My dad Ian has carried out all the refurbishment work. He has been collaborating with me since we first bought the chapel on Cinderhill Lane in 2016. Alongside my mum Kath and my husband Dave, he has been my greatest champion and supporter.”

Having started out making custom-designed furniture and offering a customised upholstery service, the father-and-daughter duo began offering upholstery workshops to individuals during the pandemic.  Their service offering has now evolved to include group upholstery workshop experiences for four to 12 people from businesses across the North West and Staffordshire.

“Around two-thirds of small business owners are suffering with mental health issues after the pandemic – with anxiety, depression and sleep deprivation being the most common problems,” said Emma – citing research by FreshBooks.

“Additionally, according to the latest findings from the HSE, more than 910,000 workers across the UK are suffering with new or long-standing work-related stress. Crafting is proven to bolster mood, improve self-confidence and reduce stress overall. A form of ‘social prescribing’, group crafting is increasingly being advocated as an alternative to – or alongside – medication or therapy. My dad and I are, therefore, delighted to be offering creative workshops that can help to improve the wellness of the North West and Staffordshire’s business community.”

The Federation of Small Businesses Cheshire supported Emma’s official launch – bringing its Live Network Events roadshow to the chapel for an evening of networking with a creative twist.  Since then, upholstery workshop attendees have included UnlikelyGenius founder Helen Hill, who said:

“Speaking frankly, Emma’s upholstery workshop came at the perfect time. I was feeling burnt out and overwhelmed from running three businesses, as well as from putting in stupid hours at work.  I even turned up with a laptop and planned to sneak in the odd email; however, I was so engaged with the task in hand I didn’t look at my laptop at all! The atmosphere was so calm in the chapel. Restorative is the word. My biggest take-away was the headspace. The whole experience made me step back and reevaluate how much I have done and how much I missed taking time out from work.”

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