Category Archives: creative

Face Painting

Back in June, we had a team building day where we all learnt to face paint with Cats Whiskers from Bristol.  It was great fun (though unfortunately my boys don’t let me practice on them!) and we now offer this free service to community events.  We hope that free face painting will help to keep the kids smiling at your event, and help to promote your community group as well as promoting our services.  If you’d like us to attend one of your events, call us on 0800 043 2440.

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Filed under childcare, children, creative, hair and beauty

Voyage Fairtrade

Sam Birtwistle is a young entrepreneur from South Devon.  His business, Voyage Fairtrade, sells fair trade and ethical goods, handmade by artisans from all over the world.

What is Voyage Fairtrade?

Voyage Fairtrade sells a wide range of Fairtrade and ethically handmade goods – from ornaments to practical home items.  The huge selection of goods come from all four corners of the globe, not just from the stereotypical Fairtrade countries you may think of, helping as many local economies and artisans as possible.  This means that if you buy from Voyage you are not just buying a beautiful, practical item for you, a loved one or your home, you are helping alleviate poverty and helping countries develop: it is a win-win situation.

What are your plans for the future of Voyage Fairtrade?

I am expanding our range of products so they will be 100% unique and buying from more countries.  With the name Voyage I wish to be involved in different countries, cultures and societies.

What was your inspiration to start your own business?

I have had a number of inspirations, but my biggest was when I was 16.  I was working in my first job, in a shop at a holiday park; the park wasn’t performing very well and I thought ‘I would like to buy the business off the manager and show him how to run it properly!’

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?

My biggest hurdle so far has been marketing and getting my name out there, especially social media: I know that’s important!

What is the best thing about running your own business?

You are your own boss and it is your own life, you can do pretty much anything.  You can even have that extra hour of sleep if you need it!

What advantages and disadvantages do you think you have as a young entrepreneur?

I think my biggest strength is my motivation and determination; I haven’t made a success of this yet, but will force myself to make something out of it.  My biggest weakness is I should be a bit more organised, as that can make a world of difference!

What advice would you give to young people considering self employment?

Anyone with a good idea, drive and a strong work ethic can start a business, you don’t even need qualifications!  I have epilepsy and sometimes I have to stop work and sleep it off.  I have other disabilities too, as my balance and coordination is quite bad so it takes me longer to perform tasks for example typing on a keyboard, which isn’t that great if you want to start a business!  So if I can start a company then I’m sure you can too!

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Filed under creative, online business, retail, self employment, sleep

Super Mums Club Launch Event

On Monday, we will be offering free face painting, and giving out free copies of our magazine at this event, see you there!

SUPER MUMS CLUB OPENING EVENT MON 2nd DEC 10-12PM at the COURTENAY CENTRE, NEWTON ABBOT

SUPER MUMS CLUB is a place especially for busy MUMS to get pampered, take a workshop or class, get information from local services and advice on things such as parenting & work options. Mums can try & buy local products, or just relax with a cuppa while your under 5’s play with Pandamonium, our cheeky panda mascot in the play areas! We have some childcare time available for you so you can have a little time to yourself to indulge in a mini treatment, enjoy an activity or watch some demonstrations! Come and join us at the new mums playground! Our Mission is to help mums with small children access all the things that mums may need & enjoy. To give mums a little bit of ME time and to motivate, inspire or just relax them, while at the same time helping promote local small businesses, especially those owned by mums too.
We will be opening Super Mums Club in Newton Abbot, Torbay & Exeter in January. For information about what’s on offer at our OPENING EVENT  see our Facebook page. It’s all for you! So come along for a taster of what we will have for you in the new year!
If you have a business that would benefit our Super Mums please get in touch.
£5 per family. Includes a drink & 2 hours Mums & baby/toddlers play. Access to mini treatments/workshops & activities. Discounted shopping & services. Half an hour crèche space for first child. Or 1 hour with a paid workshop/activity. Additional crèche spaces available at £1 extra per child.

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Filed under childcare, creative, hair and beauty, work-life balance

Magazine News!

This year, we have been awarded funding from Awards for All to create three magazines for Mums, all about improving your confidence and motivation, inspiring you to make choices that will improve your work-life balance.  We are very excited to have got the first copy printed – it looks great!  It’s packed with inspirational stories from Mums who have started their own business or dealt with the worry of returning to work or training, as well as loads of information that will help you to progress.  We’ll be posting some of those stories on this blog, so don’t forget to keep checking back!

If you’d like a FREE copy of the magazine, please give us a call on 0800 043 2440.  If you have a story you’d like to share, please email cmathers@opsw.co.uk or get in touch through our Facebook group.

If you’ve got your hands on a magazine already, please let us know what you thought!  Comment below, or on Facebook – we’d love your feedback!

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Filed under creative, employment, Inspirational Women, retraining, self employment, work-life balance, writing

Interview with a Photographer

Last week, I told you about a photoshoot that I had been a part of, and how much it made me appreciate the incredibly difficult job that wedding photographers have in trying to get hundreds of beautiful photos without impacting too much on the couple’s day.  When planning my own wedding, we came across an advert for a photographer looking for experience of wedding photography.  Lionel agreed to photograph our wedding for us for free to add to his portfolio, and I think we were really lucky to catch him at this point in his career.  Here he tells us about how he got into wedding photography.

How did you get into photography, and when and how did your turn your hobby into a business?

I used to be in a band and we used to tour a lot round the UK and Europe, I only had a point and shoot camera then but tried to document my trips as much as possible. It wasn’t until a few years after the band finished, when I started shooting a few local gigs that I realised I wanted to take it more seriously. I started shooting for local venues and local publications and started to photograph more and more bands. I have been to many festivals and photographed some amazing musicians over my time.
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What made you decide to start doing wedding photography?
I never considered doing weddings as I didn’t think I would enjoy it or be any good at it, so it wasn’t until a friend asked me to help out assisting on a wedding, and experiencing it first hand that I realised it wasn’t too dissimilar to photographing bands. Shooting bands live I tried to translate the intensity into each photo, and it’s the same with weddings, the intensity is capturing the crucial moments and documenting the energy emotions of the day.
How did you get started photographing weddings?
I tried to contact a few professional wedding photographers regarding assisting wedding with little success. Before I could take my wedding business off the ground I needed to build a strong portfolio. I couldn’t justify charging with my lack of experience so I decided to put an advert out offering my services for free in exchange for photos for my portfolio. Due to offering something for free, I in return wanted some special unique weddings that would look great in my portfolio.
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Congratulations on your recent wedding!  Do you think that having had a wedding will affect your wedding photography at all?
Having a wedding definitely gives you first hand experience (and stresses) of the business. The moment you mention the word ‘weddings’ prices seem to inflate substantially. Some things more justified than others. We were lucky enough to source out the things for our wedding within our budget, it’s so easy to go overboard though.
I do more than ever think that wedding photos are really important not only from photographer’s view but from a groom’s point of view too, as they are probably one of the few things after the wedding you will still hold on to. Another thing I learnt from my own wedding is to make sure you make a list of shots you want such as family portraits. You don’t want to look back and think you have missed anyone from your photos.
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How do you market your business?
The world of wedding photography is a huge minefield and getting your name out there is probably the hardest part of the job. Social media is a major marketing tool nowadays and I usually spend a lot of my time networking on Facebook, twitter, wedding sites, forums and anywhere else I think a bride will be looking. In the age we live in to succeed you have to embrace things like twitter and Facebook.
My initial price structure also dictated my marketing, I first started to offer my services for free to build up my portfolio, I now start from a reasonably low price. We all have to start from somewhere and at this point in time I can’t justify charging huge amounts as I have only been in the wedding business for under a year. The one thing starting in the budget end is sometimes potential clients pick you solely on price and not on your work which can demoralising. I don’t think it will be very long though as my experience in the wedding business is quickly growing and soon enough I will have to raise my prices to what I’m actually worth.
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What has been the hardest thing so far about working for yourself?
Learning how to run a business, I would say 70% of my time now is now devoted to the business side, such as marketing, networking, bookkeeping and most importantly disciplining myself to actually sit down and work. Also being self employed you have to factor in the long hours without getting anything like sick or holiday pay.
What is the best thing about your job?
Getting to go to travel to different places (I recently went to Italy to shoot a wedding), meeting new people, photographing weddings which in themselves are amazing events, and doing something that I love.
What are your plans for the future?
More weddings! Carry on expanding and exploring through my wedding business. Hopefully meet some awesome people on the way.
Check out Lionel’s work on his website: www.stealthestagephotography.com

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Filed under creative, planning, self employment

Interview with a local artist

Catt Kinsey is an artist who is just starting her degree.  After two failed attempts at college, she thought her life in education was over, but now she is embarking on her degree and even plans to go into further education and possibly teaching later on.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Catt, I’m 20 years old and currently living just outside of Exeter. I am studying an Access course in Art at Exeter College and will be moving on to Study at degree level in Bath in September.  I applied to do A Levels when I first left secondary and wasn’t very prepared, at this point being in education just wasn’t where I wanted to be and soon dropped out. The following year I went back to college and tried again but unfortunately due to personal reasons I left after the first year. After the second failed attempt at A Levels I didn’t think much about education as at the time I didn’t realise it would be possible to get back in to it or reach a point where university was possible.  I focused on working and gaining my own independence but then I met someone who informed me about Access courses. My life ambitions had taken a back seat but this one year course for over 19 year olds gave me a lot of hope. Everything happened very quickly from then on really. I applied, had an interview, was given a place and made the move up from Plymouth. The support given here was fantastic, not just with the application process but with financial help as well. It completely changed my life direction and I haven’t looked back since.

What inspires your designs?

At the moment my work is very broad, including paintings, photography and 3D pieces. I’m currently working on my final major project based around the human emotion of fear, which I’m finding really interesting.  I love looking at other Artists and being inspired by their work, especially in local galleries. It’s wonderful how much the area has to offer with its galleries like the Spacex and Exeter Phoenix, showing their great exhibitions for free most of the time.

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

In 5 years time I would have looked to finished my degree, whilst studying I’m hoping to start selling some of my pieces or making greeting cards out of more illustrative work. I’m not certain on what I want to do when I finish my degree but I expect it will involve further education, either specialising in a certain area or to enable me to teach.

Is there any advice you would give to other young people who are struggling to find work or career goals?

I think people are often expected to know exactly what they want to do and how they are going to achieve it but the reality is that people change and ideas grow. Sometimes it isn’t about focusing on one plan or one direction but being more open as a lot of the time you’ll find other ways of success. Don’t let small problems get in the way. If you enjoy something, or are passionate about something then go for it, often with enough effort any obstacles can be overcome and you’ll be amazed at the amount of help and options there are available.

You can find out more about Catt and see some of her work on her website.

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Angel Face

A few years ago, in a previous job, I was looking for voluntary work for a customer and stumbled across some opportunities to volunteer in a Bridal shop.  It wasn’t right for that customer, but it looked like such an amazing opportunity, I stored it away in my memory for the future.  Fast forward a couple of years, and my boyfriend surprised me with a proposal!  I immediately remembered the shop that I’d seen all those years ago, and got on Google to see if they were still there.  I was in luck.  I got in touch with Angel Face and a few days later (and more than a year before the wedding itself) I found myself in there trying on what would become my wedding dress.  (In my haste, I tried that dress on, not in the traditional company of my Mum and bridesmaids, but of my 3 month old son.)

Angel Face is much more than a bridal boutique.  They are a social enterprise.  They provide fantastic, friendly and personal service that makes you feel like the first bride they have ever worked with, and then they invest their profits in young people.  They create training, sponsorship and employment opportunities – helping young people discover their talents – in design, seamstressing, modelling, photography or event planning.  They also showcase young and local designers in their shop.

If you are lucky enough to be looking for a wedding dress, I highly recommend visiting Angel Face’s lovely shop on the river in Buckfastleigh, Devon.  You can also follow them on Facebook.

The Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust

Supporting families since 1853.  The Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust (FTCT) was founded over 150 years ago, to support disadvantaged children, whose parents or carers work in the UK fashion and textile industry.  We provide grants to support all aspects of a child’s well-being including sickness, disability, bereavement, and issues arising from financial hardship.   Here in Devon, thousands of parents are, or have been, employed in retailing in clothing or shoe shops, working in manufacturing or working in our historic Mills. When family crisis strikes or financial hardship takes hold, children are often on the frontline of suffering.  This amazing charity provides essential grants to ensure every affected child can still thrive and achieve their dreams.  Learn more about FTCT here.

The BIG Little Dream Company

This is the non-profit arm of Angel Face devoted to helping children and young people gain self confidence, skills and belief in their talent.   We provide a broad range of skills based programmes to help discover and nurture the best talent in the South West, particularly amongst children, young people and women who have faced significant barriers in their lives.   We believe passionately in the heritage of local communities and reviving skills in industries that have declined here in the UK.   We want to inspire a new generation of designers, craftsmen and women, sales and marketing leaders and young entrepreneurs who embrace the concept of social enterprise.   We link emerging young leaders with experienced industry contacts to provide mentoring and support as they set about turning their dreams into a big reality.  We aim to contribute to the re-generation of vibrant, prosperous local communities here in the South West.  For more information:  01364 644988

 

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Filed under charity, creative, hair and beauty, Inspirational Women, retail, retraining