Thursday 23rd November 2017 Come and hear from Jen McEvitt of Back on the Map about how they took over Hendon Library and turned it into an asset for the community.
What do the creator of a high-end range of men’s grooming products, a destination coffee shop and an award winning sweet manufacturer have in common? More than you might think in fact. All of them are based in the popular and pretty countryside village of Langley Park in County Durham, and significantly, they’ve all been supported to success by CDC and DEA Enterprise Agencies, a not-for profit-companies based at Chester-le-Street and Consett, dedicated to the support and creation of business in the mid and north Durham areas.
An eclectic mix of new independent retailers have been quietly launching their businesses in Langley Park alongside more established outlets for several years now and they can’t speak highly enough of the village or the enterprise agencies that have helped them. ‘It was the friendliness that first attracted us and our local staff have been really obliging,’ say Pauline Dobson and Debbie Grice, proprietors of the well-known Number 4 café in the middle of Front Street. ‘The village is such a busy little place, neighbours are always dropping by and people have begun coming out to Langley Park on a Saturday morning, having a coffee and doing a bit of shopping while they’re here. Most of the year the street is buzzing with cyclists too, stopping off for a bite and a chat.’ Langley Park is on various cycling routes so there’s a lively atmosphere at weekends, especially at Number 4 where the scrumptious food is home baked, and where possible, locally sourced (the scones are a must).
Their success was forecast however. ‘The ladies were always going to do well,’ says Gillian Khachikian, enterprise coach at Derwent Enterprise Agency in Consett. ‘They knew what they wanted and have worked hard to get the business where it is today. It’s been a pleasure to see them achieve their dream.’
Just along the road, The Toffee Kitchen and Food Hall, housed in the historic Coop building and creation of owner Claire Megginson, has also benefitted from CDC Enterprise Agency support. Business advisor Linda Ferguson comments, ‘Claire’s Sweet Sally Cinnamon cinder toffee has gone from strength to strength. It was a great moment to see it being stocked in Beamish Museum and know that we had helped towards that, although the vision and determination was all Claire’s.’ In turn, Claire praises Langley Park. ‘The village has a comfortable feel about it,’ she says. ‘All sorts of people are our customers, dogwalkers regularly pop in for a milkshake, children and parents for an icecream, food lovers for, well, lovely food.’ And what a fantastic choice of delicacies there is to choose from. The Food Hall stocks a first-rate range of regionally produced treats, from Tynemouth coffee to super-tasty corned beef pie and of course, The Toffee Kitchen’s own ever-increasing selection of sweets including luxury Fine English Fudge - so good it’s being exported internationally! Claire is appreciative of the business support she has received along the way, ‘CDC Enterprise Agency in Chester-le-Street has always been there for me when I’ve needed it,’ she explains. ‘The training and one to one support helped a lot when I started out and I still feel I can return to them for a chat even now, should I need to.’
Over the road, and long aware of Langley Park’s retail potential, although he is also exporting his products overseas, lies The Village Barber, Iain Kane. Ten years of looking after gentlemen’s hair has put him in a good position to develop his highly desirable Village Barber therapeutic shaving range, which just keeps on growing. ‘There’s a relaxed pace in the village that people seem to appreciate,’ he says. ‘Although I’ve been here for a while, it’s great to see new businesses starting up. Langley Park feels healthy and vibrant and we seem to be seeing a lot of new faces.’ Business is certainly vibrant for Iain on the distribution front. His products have been critically acclaimed by media and trade alike. Joe Murray of CDC Enterprise Agency, who worked with Iain when he started out, agrees that he has done well. ‘Iain never gives up. He knew where he wanted to be and has never stopped working towards that goal. He deserves every success and CDC Enterprise Agency is proud to have been part of that process.’
Almost next door to The Village Barber is the dog parlour everyone’s talking about, Langley Bark. Looking from the outside like a glittering spa, it’s the brainchild of trained and qualified dog groomer Shirley Conlon, a social worker in her previous life. ‘I wanted to do something different,’ she says of her glamorous groomery, ‘Dogs and owners want to be treated well when they come in for a trim. I’ve kept the shopfront traditional and good quality, and furnished the inside to the standard of my own living room.’ Certainly, she’s achieved a sense of cosy calm, a feeling that you’re in a safe pair of hands - and business is thriving, based almost solely on recommendation and repeat custom. Shirley waited a long time for the right premises in the right place. Langley Bark in Langley Park is obviously paying off, with dogs and their owners following the scent to a gorgeous canine pamper experience.
The Nook, an enticing gift and interiors shop, owned by Laura Vayro, has a similarly welcoming atmosphere. Filled with delightful one-offs and handcrafted items, it complements the other outlets in the village, and feels connected to the businesses around it. Laura says. ‘We try to stock things that are a bit different, often from local artisans and suppliers. Word of mouth has been good for us and we hold events like discount weekends and late openings at Christmas. It’s nice for people to be able to shop locally and conveniently in Langley Park. We’re only ten minutes from Durham and people from outside have realised the village is very appealing and worth a visit.’ Lucy Bush at Woolabaloo, stockist of exquisite yarns to the discerning knitter, set in its own charming courtyard just around the corner from The Nook, acknowledges this. ‘Our Lazy Saturday Crafternoons and Rainbow Rug workshops are always popular with people locally and from afar. It’s enjoyable for them and good for us. We can afford to run a little business in Langley Park because the rent and rates are such that they help us to be able to stay here. Our customers shop and eat around the village too so we all help each other.’
From old established DIY and hardware stores to more recent enterprises like health therapists and music practitioners, dance schools and beauty salons, small business is booming in Langley Park and the Mid Durham Area Action Partnership and Parish Council are committed to supporting it. This year sees a partnership between community and business stakeholders aimed at putting Langley Park firmly on the Christmas shopping map. This enterprising village will hold its own festive celebrations, including lights and grotto, on Saturday 9th December 2017. As Trish Embleton, parish clerk says, ‘Why wouldn’t anyone want to come to Langley Park? We know it’s a wonderful place to live and work and we welcome everyone to enjoy our village with us.’
And Andy Coulthard, Mid Durham Area Action Partnership coordinator, joins in the accolades, ‘Mid Durham AAP have supported CDC Enterprise Agency for a number of years to help sustain and develop local smaller businesses within their AAP area and the work they have done within Langley Park is a shining example of this. The village is thriving, with local businesses taking a more active interest in their local community and its surroundings – better village, better business; a really good example of mutual benefit.’ So, whether you know it well or have yet to visit, Langley Park looks forward to your company. See you there!
Social Enterprise Acumen CIC **Current**
We give capacity building support and advice to existing or would- be social entrepreneurs looking to develop their concept or grow their business. Social Enterprise Acumen CIC is itself a social enterprise which works from its base in North East England to show the strength of using business models to address social issues.
It supports social entrepreneurs and organisations that want to become social enterprises to start up, develop and grow. It works closely with partners to create a stronger ecosystem to enable social enterprises to flourish.
Bid Writing Support
Public Sector Procurement
Community Development and Engagement
Coaching, Training, and Guidance
Whether you are a new business or well established, Durham County Council’s Durham Employment & Skills Service can offer staff training and recruitment services to help your business grow.
We provide industry recognised qualifications for your staff from short courses that can be completed in a day to high level management qualifications. We can also develop and deliver bespoke training programmes to match your business needs.
We understand that finding and keeping the right people is vital to the success of a business. We will tailor our recruitment service to meet your business needs, whether you have a single vacancy to fill or you need a bespoke recruitment strategy, we will endeavour to support you in finding the right people with the right skills and attitude for your business. Our service is tailored to meet your specific needs, giving everything you would expect from a recruitment agency, without the cost.
Contact us now to discuss your requirements email DES@durham.gov.uk call 03000 266 644 visit www.durham.gov.uk/des