A NORTH-EAST man has turned his ‘side hustle’ into a flourishing business despite operating in some of the most difficult trading conditions the country has experienced in years.

Stuart Coupland, who was made redundant six weeks before the UK was put into national lockdown, decided to make his hobby, Coupland Leather, a full time job.

He had been working on the brand in his spare time and wanted to create a luxury, handcrafted leather business selling items such as watch straps, belts and notebook covers as well as bespoke pieces including ladies’ handbags.

From the start of the concept to the end of 2019, Coupland Leather produced a total of 81 handcrafted pieces, while he still worked full-time.

After being made redundant on January 21, 2020, Stuart put everything into the businesses and by the end of 2020 Coupland Leather created and sold 442 handcrafted pieces.

Mr Coupland, from Stockton, said: “At first I had a look online to see what others were doing through craft websites like Etsy.

"Rather than trying to copy their model, I took a step back and reviewed my career path, the connections I have, the people I deal with and then started to think about and consider products that those people might like.

“The plan now is to continue building the brand and the business. People have seen it evolve from a hobby to a serious and professional company.”