From Hobby to High Street

20 Feb 2019

A soft furnishings expert has turned her lifelong hobby into an independent high street store and crafts workshop with help from Dorset Growth Hub.


Fabric artist Nicky Massey was making bags for friends on her front-room coffee table when she decided to turn her sewing skills and love of design into a business idea.

Working from a ‘freezing cold’ converted garage in Weymouth, she focused on making bespoke soft furnishings using an industrial sewing machine.

At the same time, she began networking and promoting the business as Margo & Mya, a name inspired by her Welsh grandmothers, both seamstresses.

With sufficient sales demand identified, Nicky approached Dorset Growth Hub to help find more appropriate premises and ways to grow.

Our Access to Finance Team worked with her to explore funding streams available to start-ups and small businesses for short-term cashflow support and longer-term investment and expansion plans.

A start-up loan was followed by a £5,000 Growth Grant which enabled Nicky to move to a far more visible high street unit in Dorchester’s Brewery Square and create jobs for three assistants.

Seven months in, the shop sells all kinds of bespoke soft furnishings made by Nicky including curtains, rugs, bedding, blinds, throws and even accessories for baby and teenage bedrooms. Some customers have been so impressed they have gone from one-off purchases to full commissions. 

“One lady came in and bought a lampshade and cushion and then asked me to do the interior fabrics design for her whole house and a holiday let,” said Nicky, whose on-site workshop doubles as a sewing school for fellow fabrics enthusiasts. “Brewery Square is absolutely the right location as it brings people in.”

Nick Gregory, our Programme and Partnership Manager said: “So much needs to happen when you start a business. It’s a massive leap from putting ideas together in your front room to taking on actual business premises, let alone a high street presence. Our support is not just about finding finance and grants – we’ve also helped Nicky with tailored, one-to-one business advice and arranged mentoring help through our partner organisation Dormen.  Nicky is very ambitious and we’re thrilled to have helped her on her way.”

Margo & Mya is one of 12 Dorset businesses to have received growth grants in the past year and a half since the launch of a dedicated programme aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises.  Altogether since 2017, more than 80 businesses have received grants via Dorset Growth Hub totalling £484,000.

Reflecting on the help she has received, Nicky said: “I was on such a tight budget but the advice from Dorset Growth Hub and the mentoring from Dormen really helped move me forward and get me on my feet. It’s so useful to have your business plan looked at and queried by eagle-eyed experts like Nick. The advice has been invaluable, bringing me down to earth and enabling me to put practical steps in place. It has helped me turn my dreams into reality and I feel very privileged. I look forward to expanding our offerings and meeting new customers. This is an amazing journey. My hope is that in the next two to three years I could be looking at a franchise model as part of our expansion.”

For more information on Dorset Growth Hub call 03454 586 480 or visit our grants page.