I'm Amanda, a 27 year old who until recently was teaching Performing Arts at a private school in Dubai. Having grown up in Northwich, Cheshire I decided after 4 years of uni to pack in the life as I knew it and travel the world with one of my best friends. It was in New Zealand I applied successfully obtained the role as a primary performing arts teacher at one of the biggest schools in the UAE.
I cut my travels short and flew home to pack up what few things I owned, earn some tips and prepare for the second biggest thing I had yet done with my life. I had never been to Dubai and in fact had only heard about it as a holiday destination a few years before. A good friend I met whilst completing my teacher training had already made the move and it was in fact on her recommendation that I secured the job. So on the 23rd August 2017 I became a UAE resident, was given my own apartment in a beautiful building just five minutes from the school. Which seems like an hour walking in 45 degree heat. That was something I hadn't prepared for, which I know sounds ridiculous now because Dubai is built on a desert.
As cliche as it sounds I really have been living my best life for the last four years. I loved my job which opened some incredible doors for me, I met friends for life. We would brunch on a Friday, yacht on a Saturday and go to a ladies night on a Wednesday. (That's right ladies drink for free all night in some venues!) It was very much a work hard play harder lifestyle. The job paid extremely well but it needed to in order to keep up with just how much was going on. Living there alone meant I never wanted to have FOMO so I said yes to pretty much everything. Dubai is a very flashy place, and it is not to everyone's liking. There is still many culture differences that can be difficult to get your head around, one being how often the mosque goes off (it still made me jump four years later.) It is much more relaxed than I understand it used to be, but I was always sure to be respectful and abide by government guidelines. You would not want to be on the wrong side of any law over there.
Fast-forward to October 2020 after teaching dance remotely from my living room for half of the year I was faced with yet another tough decision. The school had unfortunately lost a considerable amount of students due to the pandemic and was starting to make cutbacks. Unlucky for me I lost my role at the school I had devoted everything to, it was a shock and there is still a lot of uncertainty around the how and why. I decided it was time to head home and re-evaluate. After all I was now almost three years into a long distance relationship. I forgot to mention that I met my now boyfriend two weeks before I moved away, what was supposed to be a quick swipe to the right and a free cinema date turned into much more than I had planned for. The first Christmas I came home we decided to make a go of it and he came and spent New Year with me in Dubai. We now finally live in the same country, the same time zone and the same house, which is refreshing and a slightly daunting at the same time, but so far so good.
Made In Northwich came about during those last few weeks before I moved home. I knew that I would be in quarantine and unable to go out shopping for Christmas presents, I also noticed a lot of my friends had started up small businesses to make some extra money and keep themselves busy. I thought how amazing this was but such a shame that people may not be aware these things are out there. After some brief research I decided to upload a video onto my facebook page asking if anyone would be interested in me setting up a social media page to share small, independent and home-run businesses. The next night over 8000 people had viewed, shared and commented on it and expressed how useful it would be to have. So I set up an Instagram page called @madein_northwich and connected this to a facebook page to ensure it would reach as bigger audience as possible. People were sending me photos and videos of their business products and I set about learning how to use Instagram marketing techniques to showcase them in the most interesting ways. I even created a colour scheme and logo that people would be able to recognise.
I had a few friends that were helping with Ideas on what to post but it was growing quicker than we could keep up. It was then I decided to make it my primary focus and I knew that helping small businesses is what I would do whilst I try to figure out what I was going to do next with my life. Arriving back in Northwich the page already had thousands of followers, it was being noticed by other local enteritis and after seeing some of my video content Northwich Life asked if I would like to join their Facebook group admin team. This group has almost 40k followers and is a high valued platform across the community, I jumped at the chance and it has taught me so much about the people who live in the town, what they are interested in and what they like and dislike. Made In Northwich now boasts a combined following of over 5000 followers across its social media pages. I tell the story of how to support local Independent businesses whilst doing it myself as much as possible. I have formed a small team who help with production and editing of videos and photography.
I want to be able to keep building and growing the page so I decided to create my own small business. Quickly learning that there is a lot of things you don’t realise about setting up a business, but I will keep going until I can’t. I am still overwhelmed by the reaction to this little page I set up on whim, the amounts of views and likes and comments each post gets. The fact that people recognise me when I go into town or village shops. I truly believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to pursue a dream and if that’s baking, sewing, making candles, printing, balloon art, nail art, hairdressing or photography. Every big business we have heard of started out as a small one, so if this page helps even just one small business be recognised by a few more faces then I know it has all been worth it!
Amanda Cope - Founder of Made In Northwich
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