IN 2013 Rico Piagesti was made redundant just before Christmas.

He had moved to this country from New Zealand two years earlier with his wife Mel, now 42, and children Izzi, nine, and Matteo, six, to run the UK operations of Nature Shop Limited so the news came as a bitter blow.

They had invested their life savings of around £40,000 into helping the business grow.

Rico, 41, said: "When the offer of becoming a shareholder was presented we sought advice from business professionals and felt our hard work and commitment to the company would pay off through our investment.

"Little did we know what the very near future held.

"We watched helplessly and anxiously for a year as the business unravelled before our eyes.

"It was heartbreaking and shocking when we were told the business was closing."

The Piagestis found themselves jobless and moneyless in a foreign country with no family support close by or savings to fall back on.

They decided to focus on not wasting the years they had dedicated to the previous company.

Rico said: "We decided we were not prepared to lose everything so decided to work out what our options were.

"Moving on with nothing wasn’t an option to us.

"We had lost everything but we were determined to carry on and not only try and recoup what we had lost but build the company to what we felt it could be."

And that is what they have done.

Today the company is booming from its base at Southdownview Road, Broadwater, Worthing.

It specialises in top quality, natural fibre, eco-friendly clothing and footwear for the outdoors, travel and leisure.

Mel said: "We are an online retail company selling premium 'inspired by nature' brands of clothing and footwear that are kind to your body and kind to the environment.

"We are a company with a conscience and are passionate about supporting brands with strong ethical and environmental values.

"We are committed to making a positive difference to the world with a specific focus on preservation of the natural environment and giving back to those communities who need it.

"We are conscious we live in a world of plenty for some and a world of not enough for others and it is our vision to sell products that are produced with environmental and social responsibility in mind.

"The impact of mass produced, low quality clothing and footwear on our precious environment and communities is immense and we hope to encourage people to be more conscious of where their products come from and the effect of their production.

"We believe positive actions, no matter how big or small, towards respecting our planet and all its inhabitants, can make a difference and we hope our small actions will contribute to making our world a better place."

She said that with no experience in owning a business it was a daunting task when they started Izeo Limited, a blend of their children's names, and also negotiated the purchase of the domain name.

This was in March 2014, three months after being made redundant.

"We had a vision of what we felt the business should stand for so we followed that vision and tirelessly worked at learning how to run a business and change what we felt needed to be changed.

"A former employee, Josie Moyce, had faith in us and our vision and stayed on to ride the waves and see what could be achieved.

"The three of us regrouped and worked out a strategy of how to move forward.

"For us, having Josie on board was invaluable.

"She is a huge wealth of support, not only because she is brilliant at what she does, but she shares our vision and determination and is an integral part of Nature Shop."

As a team of three they created a new website from scratch, rebranded with a new logo and the tagline Love Nature, Live Nature.

They focused on their new vision of creating an ethical online retail company that encourages people to get outdoors and active.

With this vision in mind they reviewed their brand offering and only kept those which had similar ethics and policies while also taking on some amazing new brands.

Mel said: "Using stubbornness to fuel the fight within us, we turned the desperation and stress we felt into determination and dug our heels in, pulled our sleeves up, and set about the hard work of turning the business around.

"We quickly had to learn how to run a business including IT, marketing, accounts, payroll and familiarising ourselves with the many different aspects of e-commerce."

The Piagestis faced another hurdle when after months of no income and rising debt they decided that Rico would have to get a stable income to support the family.

For the last two and half years he has been commuting to London and working up to 16 hours a day, including nights and weekends, meaning that quite often he won’t see his young family for days at a time.

He is a mechanical engineer and fitter working as a contractor for VVB on the Thames Tideway tunnel under the Thames.

Before this he was working underground at Bond Street for VVB doing the mechanical fitting for tunnellers.

He said: "It’s been a tough ride but we keep saying to ourselves it’s only money we’ve lost, our kids are healthy and that’s the most important thing."

Thankfully the hard work of Rico, Mel and Josie is paying off.

Nature Shop has a following of loyal customers and supportive suppliers and gradually it is forging a name for itself.

It won a trio of awards including best green business at the Adur and Worthing Business Awards.

Rico said: "It has been an absolute dream to win these awards.

"It has given us the boost and confidence we need to reassure us that we are on the right track.

"You tend to falter in confidence when the learning curve is so steep and second guess yourself a lot.

"But winning these awards has been a huge achievement for us.

"Nature Shop is proof that hard work, determination and a positive attitude really can make a difference.

"We are hoping to continue to grow our company while trading consciously, ethically and mindfully."