Craftspeople are being encouraged to take their businesses to the next level through a free course being offered by Ards Business Hub in September.
Getting Crafty in Business is a series of workshops and one to one mentoring delivered by industry experts covering areas including marketing, branding, advice on social media, using video, visual storytelling and e-commerce.
Ards Business Hub Chief Executive Nichola Lockhart said: “There is a wonderful tradition of craft making in this area exemplified by the many events taking place every year during August Craft Month. Getting Crafty in Business aims to equip these talented craft makers with the skills to set up and grow their own successful enterprises.”
The next Get Crafty in Business programme will be held at Ards Business Hub starting in September culminating in a Christmas Showcase Event (subject to Covid restrictions).
The course was run in 2020 and helped many makers to focus on their businesses, giving them the confidence to move forward to sell and develop their handcrafted products to a wider market.
The participants praised the tutors, Rosemary Morrison from Directus Business Consultancy and Ashleigh Watson from Copper Square Communications, as well as the interesting special guest speakers brought in to discuss a range of topics.
Painter Carla Hodgson said the programme helped her enormously. She works on large scale artwork, such as the amazing purple octopus mural painted during the Open House Festival, as well as portraiture and community art projects. The course gave her the confidence to grow her business significantly.
“I felt like they were backing me up and telling me I could do this. Art was always more than a hobby for me; it’s a real passion. To have these business professionals believe in me, meant so much. I have a new focus on the business side and understanding what my customers want and need.”
Fellow participant Tracey Ayre of Bluebird Designs explained that the course helped her take her business in a new direction during lockdown.
“I had always sold at craft fairs but during the pandemic this stopped. Nichola Lockhart from Ards Business Hub suggested this course and another with Women in Business; both have been invaluable,” she said.
Tracey works mainly with polymer clay and during lockdown she developed make at home craft kits.
“In the last year, so many people started new hobbies and working with polymer clay is very relaxing and enjoyable. I’ve developed two kits that people can do at home, one to make a necklace and bracelet and another making a tea light holder. The courses gave me the push to take my work to the next level,” she added.
Michaela Phillips from Bangor turned her hobby of creating handcrafted wooden signs and gifts into a full-time job. She had previously worked in childcare for 22 years and loved doing craft projects with the children.
“My business, Sunshine and Grace, has really grown since doing the course; it gave me much more insight in how to sell and also helped build up my confidence in my work,” she said.
Painter Melanie Clark Pullen of Books By The Sea in Ballyholme creates beautiful mermaids and sea scenes. She explained that an unexpected benefit of the course was the supportive community of craft makers that grew out of it.
“As a group we really bonded and worked together. They are all amazing people and we support each other. Developing a network of people who understand the same challenges and are there to cheer you on has been wonderful,” she said.
To find out more about the free Get Crafty in Business programme, contact Ards Business Hub on 028 9181 9787 or email [email protected].