Paul Hill set Artsy Laser up last June but the main thrust of his business has always been in custom framing of memorabilia such as football shirts.
Some of the country’s biggest football clubs were his main clients but when lockdown meant a temporary suspension of the football season, Paul was left wondering what he could do to keep his business ticking over.
Inspiration struck when he saw someone selling paper 'hugs' and decided he could improve on the concept using his laser machine to create wooden tokens inscribed with a poem which people could send to friends and family to show they were thinking of them during lockdown.
The idea was an almost instant hit with people desperate to let their nearest and dearest know they were thinking of them even though they couldn’t be together.
Paul said: "The success totally took me by surprise. I have never done so much 'hugging' in all my life.
"In the first four weeks we created around 2,700 orders and sent out around 4,000 individual hugs to people across the country and as far away as Australia and America. We took around 1,700 orders as a result of our ads on Facebook alone."
He added: "I think it’s fair to say we have been really busy. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard and we have had lovely feedback from people who have sent and received the hugs, saying how much it meant to be able to send or receive something like this during what has been a really difficult time for so many who are forced to be apart."
Paul has also created a range of frontline worker 'hugs', with 50p from each sale going to a NHS charity, and even got involved in a project to laser cut the acrylic front sections of face masks for frontline workers.
Artsy Laser started in June 2018 at Peterborough Workspace, a shared workspace in Woodston but since then has grown and grown until Paul’s equipment was spilling out into corridors and communal spaces.
So in between creating all the hugs, Paul had to relocate all his equipment to the new premises at Unit 55, Second Drove, Fengate.
He is hoping the bigger premises and the client base he has grown during lockdown will help his business grow and go from strength to strength after lockdown has lifted.
He added: "Moving during lockdown was not easy and it took around two days just to get everything plugged in and back up and running.
"Now the laser is running about 11 hours a day just doing the hugs.
"It really is all hands to the pump and I’ve roped in my wife, son, niece and other family members to take it in turns to help out.
"I guess as long as lockdown lasts the hugs will continue to sell, but I’m really looking forward to the football resuming so we can get back to some kind of normal."
To find out more or purchase a hug, go to www.artsylaser.co.uk