How China Petals grew a business despite a Global Pandemic

China Petals, who make personal keepsakes out of fine bone china moved into Banks Mill just before the first lockdown.  Here, owner and founder Diane Daley talks about what it’s been like launching a creative business during a global pandemic and how she has successfully diversified during her first year, to ensure her business is thriving in challenging times.

“I moved into Banks Mill at the start of March 2020 and had only been in my new studio a few weeks before the first lockdown began. This was a real blow as I was planning lots of great activities for the year, including new workshops and selling my work at events such as Patchings Festival and Haddon Hall. My business plan totally changed and I had to think of new ways to sell my work.

A big part of my business is people so not being able to have visitors to the studio, or attend events really affected the business so I had to think of new ways of working, in fact the only part of my business that didn’t really change was the bespoke commissions, which could be done through email and video calls.

I quickly realised that people were craving creative activities to keep them occupied and help with their mental health so I developed my mosaic kits.  This is something that I hadn’t even contemplated before the pandemic, however they have really taken off and are so popular that I’m constantly thinking of different types of kits to launch. The introduction of the kits steered me to start selling on Etsy which enables me to sell nationally, and not just locally which had been my initial goal.

A lady with a blue patterned blouse and burgundy apron, using some pilars.

During the first lockdown Banks Mill was forced to close and fortunately for me during this period they didn’t charge rent; as a new business I wasn’t eligible for any government support so this really helped with cashflow.  I also used this time to work on my marketing and social media.

Although Banks Mill was closed I was still able to access the support they provide as well as joining virtual meetings and peer support groups which has kept me going during these difficult times.

During the summer I was able to tentatively start my workshops, albeit only with people in the same support bubble, however the introduction of tiers and further lockdowns just made this side of my business impossible.  With no sign of restrictions being lifted enough to conduct workshops I have decided to take the plunge and try online sessions.  All the materials for the session are posted out in advance and I recently ran my first session which went really well so I will definitely plan new dates soon.

Although moving into Banks Mill a month before lockdown wasn’t ideal it really did give me the support to help me develop my business; I think if I hadn’t been part of this creative community then I probably wouldn’t have created my kits or dreamt of conducting workshops online; in fact it was with the help of a fellow Banks Mill tenant that I decided to try the online workshops.

All in all, as horrendous as COVID has been for what I had planned to do for my business, I have adapted and built some resilience and opened myself up to possibilities I hadn’t even entertained before.”

To find out more about China Petals visit or visit the gallery page to see some of the bespoke commissions Diane has created including pet portraits, commemoration and cherished pieces all using fine bone china.

China Petals Interview

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