Designer Leah Moore had a touch of déjà vu recently when she moved into UK Steel Enterprise’s Innovation Centre at Hartlepool to give her the additional space her growing business desperately needed.
Funky Laser designs and creates a quirky range of products made largely in Perspex and wood but also in leather and other materials.
They include cake toppers, badges, necklaces and photographic props featuring anything from moustaches, jokes, names and quotes to flowers, lips and animals.
It is winning commissions from a growing string of high-profile companies in the film, television, food, cosmetics and other sectors from Disney, Warner Bros and Penguin to Lakeland, Amazon and BBC Good Food.
The company began in 2015 in a small office at the Innovation Centre on the Queens Meadow Business Park but grew quickly at a time when, unfortunately, there was no vacant workshop available.
Funky Laser had to move to alternative premises but when the company outgrew those too, Leah was delighted that the Innovation Centre did then have the office and workshop space she needed
The Funky Laser team of three is now settled back in with the space needed to purchase a Roland UV printer, enabling them to print direct on to materials including acrylics and bring more processes in-house, to plan an expanded photographic studio and grow the team.
The corporate side of the business is growing fast with a dedicated area on its website and demand from wholesalers is also a growth area with real potential.
A recent order for bespoke cake toppers worth several thousand pounds was a first from Finland and individual customers from around the world, including the USA, Canada and Australia, also buy online.
Leah recently acquired sister company Paper Craze, an online stationery and print business providing items from pencils and badges to personalised cards and notebooks, and was then invited to help Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launch Handmade at Amazon.
Spotting a business opportunity based on combining the skills she acquired on her industrial design degree course with the huge potential of high-tech laser cutting machines has seen Leah’s business go from strength to strength.
“It has been a very busy and exciting three years,” said Leah. “It was really unlucky that we weren’t able to stay at the Innovation Centre but we are absolutely delighted to be back now.
“The facilities and support here are great and we particularly appreciate having a reception area for deliveries, meeting rooms, the free parking and the 24 hour access which is a boon for working parents as I often start very early!”
Paula Addison of UK Steel Enterprise said “We are delighted to have Funky Laser back here and with the space that they need to continue growing.
“We know that our tenants appreciate the facilities we provide but they also play an important part in creating the supportive business community we have here.”
• Pictured above: Leah Moore (left) of Funky Laser is welcomed back to the Innovation Centre at Hartlepool by Paula Addison of UK Steel Enterprise.