A couple from Louth have turned the uncertainty of COVID-19 lockdown into an exciting career venture, and are now running three businesses at once in the town.
Jonathan Cryans (26) and Ashley Janney (30) are business partners that run a menswear store, a sewing shop and a salon in New Market Hall, Louth, and they recently got engaged after five years together.
They began in March 2018 with the opening of The Little Sewing Shop, selling cushions and other home furnishings, as well as offering tailored services for clothes.
When the first coronavirus lockdown hit, Ashley, who is the head designer and director for the sewing shop, made a bold call to buy the unit next door and turn it into a workshop.
Ashley would regularly get customers for weddings, having the local community come to him to tailor suits, and that’s when Janney & Cryans Menswear was born.
The shop opposite The Little Sewing Shop had previously been a menswear shop, but Ashley and Jonathan made it into their own and opened in June 2020.
That was then followed by The Loft, an upstairs salon run by Jonathan himself, which also opened last June.
Ashley told The Lincolnite that the success of the businesses has been a result of making the right decisions at the right times.
“You’ve just got to enjoy your job, you spend more time at work than you do at home, so it’s all about finding something you love”, he said.
“We made a choice during the first lockdown to invest in the business and not just expand the sewing shop, but also open the menswear shop and the salon.
“It came to the point where you either fight or die, and despite everybody calling me crazy, I went for it and here we are today.”
During the local elections in 2021, The Heritage Party ran for council in Louth, and their policies of being against the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as same-sex marriages, caused controversy within the community.
This is something that deeply upset Jonathan and Ashley, though they say they say they’ve never really encountered any forms of homophobia within their business.
Ashley said: “I guess it’s never really come up in conversation, it’s hard to take and sad knowing that people think like that.
“We have new customers every single day, it’s just reassuring that it’s only a small minority who have those views.”
Jonathan said: “If you are LGBT you can still run a successful business. You can lead a normal life and be a ‘stable’ member of society.
“It seems so backward to even have to be fighting for this in 2021. But things have come so far and I refuse to not fight for equality.”
Since reopening, all three businesses have boomed, with the help of a growing online presence and word of mouth.
Ashley explained: “The community has kind of spread the word, I think it works well having all the businesses close together.
“Our local regulars supported us a lot through lockdown to keep us afloat, and since then it’s gone from strength to strength.”
You can take a look at the businesses on their Facebook pages by clicking the following links: