When plumber Dan Ford was furloughed in the first pandemic lockdown, a few lengths of copper pipe and a lot of ingenuity were the catalyst for an unexpected business venture
While much attention has, understandably, been on the struggles of businesses to survive the impacts of Covid-19, there have been some amazing and uplifting stories of entrepreneurship born out of the pandemic. Stories like husband and wife Dan and Lyndsey Ford who unexpectedly started a new business – from a length of copper pipe.
At the beginning of March, plumber Dan was furloughed by his employer as the country went into lockdown. Like many others, Dan found himself with time on his hands and, always being an active kind of guy, looked around for ways to keep himself busy.
In an attempt to create some positivity – and to prevent himself from going mad – he decided to play around and use up some copper pipe he had in stock. Together the couple fashioned their first Hearts For Hope and decided to see if they could sell them via social media as garden ornaments for charity.
The hearts proved an instant success, and the range has since been expanded to include homeware items, such as copper heart wine racks, garden hooks and even house numbers. So far, their sales have raised a total of £10,000 for local charities fighting the Covid-19 crisis, including £500 donated to Midlands Air Ambulance which funded two critical care car missions.
Dan returned to his full-time job in July, meaning he only has evenings and weekends free to make orders, so there’s now a two-week lead time between ordering and delivery. Charity donations have become 10 per cent of profits from each purchase, instead of the original 100 per cent of proceeds. And Lyndsey has taken over the running of the business, looking after social media, answering enquiries and also learning to make the hearts herself!
She said: “We never imagined this idea would have made it this far and never had any original plans to turn it into a business venture, so we’d like to thank everyone for their support. More than six months on we are still going strong and have now got a variety of designs available on our website and are taking on bespoke designs as well. As long as people still want to buy our hearts, we will keep making them. Charity will always be at the heart of what we do and we have got a few exciting fund-raising ideas in the pipeline.”
From playing around with a length or two of spare copper, the couple now have to source considerable amounts of piping to meet the demand for their products. Lyndsey said: “We are now spending all of our spare time arranging supplies and creating the hearts. We weren’t expecting to have so much interest and for so many people to purchase our hearts. It’s amazing!”
With Christmas just around the corner, the couple have created some special gifts, including brilliant copper star tree toppers. Lyndsey said they are always open to new ideas. “We love to be challenged so if anyone wants to let us know if they have a design in mind we will try and make it!”
All products for sale have 10 per cent of the profits donated to charity. Organisations helped so far include:
• St Richard’s, Shakespeare and Acorns Children’s hospices
• West Midlands Air Ambulance Charity
• Worcester Acute Hospital Charity
• Touchstones Child Bereavement Support;
• Evesham Adventure Playground Association
• Evesham & District Mental Health Support Services
• Marie Curie Solihull
• Heartstart Malvern
• Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust