East Wittering business owners fulfilling dream with latest unique ventures
"I didn't really think about it, I just jumped in at the deep end."
Those were the words of one of East Wittering's newest business owners, who fulfilled a lifelong dream in opening her own shop, despite extra challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Christa Millar's ladies fashion store, Boutique 20, is based at Wittering Walk Shopping Arcade.
"I've always wanted to start up a little shop, Christa said. "I've always wanted to have a little boutique.
"There's nothing around like it really, even as far as Chichester. There's not many the same so it is definitely needed."
After opening in November, the shop had to close when the country was plunged into a second full-scale lockdown.
This meant former cabin crew member Christa missed out on an official opening day but, having reopened to customers last month, is keen to make up for lost time.
She added: "It's been really good so far. I had my local following keeping me going in lockdown as I've had my website.
"I've had that up and running from the start so was able to do click and collect. That has really helped me.
"We are in a parade of shops which is quite hidden. It's not right out on the front so it's [a challenge to] get people to find us down here.
"We offer affordable fashion, boutique style. We have things you don't necessarily find in the high street. We have a bit of everything, it's like a treasure trove."
Food trailer born out of lockdown
Christa is not the only one who has set up a new business during the pandemic.
Having lost their jobs in January, friends and restaurant managers Pippa Grundy and Rosie Broad, along with their partners Pete Greenhalgh and Craig Holden, who are both chefs, set up a new food stall called Bull Yard Pizza just weeks later.
Based near the beach, the group's pizza oven has been a hit with the locals.
Pippa said: "It was a challenge to set up a new business during the pandemic but two months in and people are loving it.
“We are using what we have on our doorstep by working with local suppliers in the Witterings.
"Sales have been really good. People are thankfully really supportive.
"It's a little pizza trailer but we are going a lot of places."
Pippa said it has been 'so nice' to see businesses reopen in East Wittering, which is 'becoming a really foody scene' with new street food traders, including people who have lost jobs during the pandemic.
"The Witterings is mega seasonal at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic," she said. "It's safe to say footfall has been minimal in recent months.
"We have been really excited to welcome people back to the Witterings, as it's been a little bit of a ghost town.
"We have a simplicity about our business. A pizza on the beach will always be amazing, pandemic or no pandemic."
'We are quite unique from most other toy shops'
Many of East Wittering's established independent businesses are continuing to thrive during the pandemic.
Julie Kearns, who owns Salty Dog Emporium at Wittering Walk, revealed how the idea for her unique business, which was named after her chocolate Labrador, came from her time working with children.
"Everything I do supports children throughout their education in their learning development," she said. "We are quite unique from most other toy shops,
"We are very traditional, offering wooden toys, arts and crafts for older children.
"I come from an early years background, where I worked with under fives.
"You get to a point in life where you can't crawl on the floor anymore so I used the skills sets that I've got.
"I have linked all my products to children's learning and development and many of my products have an ethical or sustainable background too."