Unique plant business thriving after owner's lockdown job 'shock'

Nancy Bainbridge, from Dereham, has launched 'Plants for Living' after losing her job during the pandemic

Nancy Bainbridge, from Dereham, has launched 'Plants for Living' after losing her job during the pandemic - Credit: Chris Bainbridge

A former banker has harnessed the pain of being made redundant during lockdown to bravely launch her own business.

Nancy Bainbridge has started 'Plants for Living' from her home in Dereham, selling unique flora that might not otherwise be available in Norfolk. 

Nancy Bainbridge pictured at home in Dereham, where she has launched Plants for Living

Nancy Bainbridge pictured at home in Dereham, where she has launched Plants for Living - Credit: Chris Bainbridge

She had been working as an operations manager with a financial services firm when the pandemic struck, and found herself furloughed for several months.

Mrs Bainbridge, a former bank manager, was then given the grim news that her job was being axed. 

"I was in shock," said Mrs Bainbridge. 

Nancy Bainbridge in the greenhouse in her Dereham garden

Nancy Bainbridge in the greenhouse in her Dereham garden - Credit: Chris Bainbridge

"I thought that was going to be my career for at least the next five to 10 years.

"I was really devastated, but things were so uncertain and, of course, they still are."

With her career plans suddenly in tatters, the 54-year-old was unexpectedly forced to go back to the drawing board. 

Plants for Living has been launched by Nancy Bainbridge at her home in Greenfields Road, Dereham

Plants for Living has been launched by Nancy Bainbridge at her home in Greenfields Road, Dereham - Credit: Chris Bainbridge

Most Read

But one day, while decorating her dining room at home in Greenfields Road, Mrs Bainbridge had a bright idea. 

"I wanted a nice big palm tree in the corner of the room and could not find one being sold anywhere in Norfolk," she added.

"What I didn't want to do was go online and order one with a big company."

Nancy Bainbridge, from Dereham, admits she is enjoying being surrounded by plants

Nancy Bainbridge, from Dereham, admits she is enjoying being surrounded by plants - Credit: Chris Bainbridge

Noticing a gap in the local market, Mrs Bainbridge got the ball rolling with starting up her own firm and, before long, Plants for Living was born. 

She was fortunate enough to be successful in her bid for a grant from Breckland Council, allowing her to purchase a greenhouse and stock even more magnificent greenery. 

What's more, Mrs Bainbridge sourced help from the county council's Go Digital funding programme to build her own website. 

Having worked for years in financial services, Nancy Bainbridge is turning her hand to selling unique plants

Having worked for years in financial services, Nancy Bainbridge is turning her hand to selling unique plants - Credit: Chris Bainbridge

Having already sold dozens of items and begun to establish herself within a growing community, Dereham's newest business owner is delighted with her "happy ending".

She said: "I am really loving it. My husband and I were talking about how things can change in the blink of an eye. 

"It seems plants are a real passion at the moment, perhaps because of the lockdown. I have met so many nice people and there is a really good community of plant lovers."

Visit plantsforliving.co.uk, or search 'Plants for Living' on Facebook and 'plantsforlivinguk' on Instagram.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter