Bossing it at The Corner Shop: The high-flying 22-year-old Burnley business-owner, degree-holder, and lockdown entrepreneur
Launching your own e-commerce business whilst studying for a degree in marketing management before going on to land a job in interior design takes some doing. To do all of the above during a once-in-a-century pandemic at a time when the jobs market is particularly unforgiving takes even more doing.
But Ellie Harrop has done it all and more.
“If you want something, you’ve got to work for it,” says Ellie, 22. “In lockdown, I decided to redecorate my flat and got really into interiors. My mum said ‘you’ve got a really good eye for that’. I thought to myself, ‘you know what, I really enjoy it so I’m going to look at some wholesalers and set up a little online business’.
“I’d never really thought about interiors as a job before but, looking back, I always hated clothes shopping whereas I love buying bits for the house and a good trip to IKEA!” she adds. “It’s almost like I’ve found my calling and everything has gone from there, really.”
That calling has seen Ellie, who is from Burnley, launch The Corner Shop, a homeware and interior decor online store. Already armed with the intricate knowledge of how to navigate the commerce industry thanks to her studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, she got her new business off the ground and has watched it blossom and bloom from there.
“My interest in business definitely came from my mum,” says Ellie, whose mother Janine owns Beauty & Hair on Briercliffe Road in Burnley. “She’s a self-employed beauty therapist and has always had a really good head for business.
“But starting your own company is still a big step,” Ellie continues. “I’ve had my own issues with mental health, so it was anxiety-provoking to set it all up, but you’ve got to start somewhere. I already had the basis in marketing, so I thought, if I put all my efforts into it, I could make something of it,” Ellie explains. “Luckily it’s gone well from there.
“It’s been a really great outlet for me during lockdown - something I have been able to focus on and which gave me something to get up for every day as well as new people to interact with online.
“The positive feedback I’ve had from people has also given me a massive boost as well,” Ellie says. “And, even with it being a tough time for everyone given the pandemic, I’ve really enjoyed the business side of things,”
Always looking for ways to grow and develop her business, Ellie is now looking for a bricks-and-mortar premises in Burnley which would allow her to open a store in the town, giving The Corner Shop a physical presence to complement their burgeoning online reputation.
“It feels like I’ve created a bit of a community, which has definitely kept me going,” Ellie says of her customers. “I absolutely love it.”
Not one to do things by halves, Ellie has also landed a full-time job in marketing at Office Insight, an office interior design company in Cheshire, during lockdown. On top of founding The Corner Shop, completing her degree, and finishing her dissertation, she has been making the two-hour round commute into work from her home in Burnley for the past three months.
“It’s been hard and challenging to juggle everything, but it’s made me into a bigger person,” says Ellie, who has been completing her studies and overseeing her business in the evenings and at weekends. “I’ve worked hard - it’s been a lot of getting up at 6am and finishing at 10pm - but it’s been so fulfilling.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she adds. “It’s made all the effort worthwhile and to be able to look back at what I’ve achieved in the past three months has given me a real sense of personal achievement.”
As the country hopefully starts to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, Ellie hopes her story can inspire other young entrepreneurs too.
“If there’s something you really want to achieve, you have to go out and get it, so just give it a go,” she says. “I’ve absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to see where everything will take me.”