A sprinkling of fibre and fairy dust gets unicorn business off to a magical start
On the West Coast of Cumbria there have been reported sightings of a mythical creature bringing delight and Christmas magic to all who meet him.
Thanks to fledgling business ‘When you Believe’, Starlight the unicorn is making dreams come true for children at Santa’s Grottos and parties across Copeland and Allerdale.
The business launched just last month, is off to a flying start much to the joy of founders Emma Adams and Stacey Mair.
Stacey said: “My four-year-old niece wanted a unicorn for her birthday earlier this year and after a fruitless online search I realised there was a gap in the market in this area. So, I joined up with my friend Emma and we set about making our dream a reality because ‘When You Believe’ anything is possible – even unicorns and fairies!”
One of the first considerations - after finding an available unicorn - was how to run and promote the business and the pair soon realised that a good internet connection and strong online presence was going to be key. Luckily Connecting Cumbria, a broadband partnership led by Cumbria County Council and Openreach, had upgraded Stacey’s Cleator Moor home to fibre-based broadband so they could use the faster broadband speeds to do everything they needed to get up and running.
Stacey explained: “Having fast broadband has been essential to creating what is essentially an online business launched and run via social media platforms. We don’t yet have a premises people can visit so we must tell our story virtually and tell it well enough that people are confident we will make their event or child’s party a magical occasion. Uploading photos and video content is crucial as they show how magical Starlight is and the happiness on the children’s faces when they meet him.
“Since the launch of the business last month it has been a whirlwind. We have had dozens of customer enquiries via email and Messenger which customers rightly expect a quick response to. We’ve set up internet banking instead of having to go into a branch and we hope in the near future to set up a website and offer online payment options. Without fast broadband none of it would be possible.”
Cllr David Southward, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Property at Cumbria County Council, said: “The importance of having faster, more reliable Internet access – wherever you are – cannot be underestimated. It’s vital for our businesses to be able to compete and for our communities to thrive.
“Start-ups like ‘When you Believe’ are made possible by the hard work and determination of the people who found them but getting them up and running effectively in today’s online world is underpinned by having access to faster broadband technology.”
More than 80,500 homes and businesses across Copeland and Allerdale have been upgraded to fibre broadband by the Connecting Cumbria programme and Openreach’s commercial activity. While across Cumbria around 240,000 premises can benefit. Of those, around two thirds of homes and businesses within the programme area have signed up to faster broadband. However, this still means tens of thousands of people could be benefitting from the faster speeds but aren’t.
Robert Thorburn, Openreach partnership director in the North, added: “We know how important a fast and reliable broadband connection is, not only now but also for the future and it’s heartening to see the technology supporting the entrepreneurship of people like Stacey and Emma.
“A huge of amount of hard work has taken place during the last seven years, making faster broadband available to tens of thousands of homes and businesses across Cumbria. We know there is more to do, and we look forward to going even further in the future.
“Having access to faster broadband speeds has many advantages. We’re increasingly depending on the internet for everyday life, so the importance of the work carried out by Connecting Cumbria should not be underestimated. And it’s important to remind people living in upgraded areas that they need to contact their service provider about switching to a fibre service. It does not happen automatically.”
For more information about Connecting Cumbria can be found at connectingcumbria.org.uk