A photographer and a writer have been named joint winners of the North Tyneside Business of the Month.
Lauren McWilliams set up For You Photography, specialising in corporate, commercial and wedding photography, after leaving her full-time job.
She explained: “I decided to follow my passion and hobby to see where it would go.
“It was about taking on a challenge but also just being able to focus on something productive, which helped me a lot.”
Lauren, from Killingworth, works with businesses to help them capture their story for their brand through photography.
She was supported by North Tyneside Council’s The Business Factory – which, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, shines a spotlight on the quality of new businesses based in the borough each month with the Business of the Month campaign.
Lauren said: “I have learned lots of valuable skills from the Business Factory, I’ve built some truly amazing support networks from North Tyneside Business Forum and North Tyneside’s VODA.
“I never dread Mondays anymore. I am so lucky that I get to continue working with and helping people as well as getting paid to do something creative that I love, and my confidence has grown so much over the past few months.
“It’s not only a great place to live but it’s support is so special, something I am very thankful for.”
Sharing the Business of the Month award for November is freelance writer Helen Bowman, who launched her company In the Detail after facing a dilemma.
Helen moved back home to Whitley Bay after working in PR and marketing in East Anglia.
She had the choice of getting a full-time job and mortgage or moving back in with her parents and starting up on her own.
Helen took the latter option, again after seeking help from the Business Factory, and hasn’t looked back.
She said: “I’d always wanted to work for myself and, planning for the future, I wanted the flexibility of being my own boss to work around a family.
“It’s worked out fantastically in that regard because I can work the hours I choose and still spend time with my family during school holidays, attend school concerts and help out on the occasional school trip too.”
Now Helen’s back home in North Tyneside she wouldn’t change it for anything.
“I just love the place. The support available to small businesses like mine is incredible and the networking opportunities are many and varied as well,” she added.