Busy, busy being creative..!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Do What You Love - Interview no.4 - Karen Lowe


The fourth interview in a series of ten - meeting Bristol people who 'Do What They Love!' 

Karen LoweImage Consultant, Personal Stylist

There’s no escaping the fact that what we wear can say a lot about us. And after meeting and interviewing the lovely Karen Lowe, it certainly made me think more about the power of clothes, not just in a sense of following fashion, but the role they can play in boosting confidence and in turn enabling other changes. ;-)

Karen Lowe telling me how she got started - with a Do What You Love cushion  ©Lydia Samuel Photography  
Name: Karen Lowe
Age: 38
Business: Karen Lowe -  Image Consultant, Personal Stylist.
Location: Redland, Bristol
Website: www.karenl.co.uk

What do you do?

I help women to look and feel their very best by showing them how to dress to flatter their body shape so that they always feel good about themselves. Often during this process my clients rediscover who they are which in turn gives them a massive confidence boost.

What do you love about it?

In my experience a lot of women aren't happy with the way they look, through weight gain/loss, a traumatic experience or simply feel stuck in a rut and don't know how to get out of it.  This in turn can have a very negative effect on their overall confidence and in some cases will stop them from doing things they would really like to do.  

By showing them what styles and shapes suit them best, and how to use accessories to add a uniqueness to their look,  when they see themselves in the mirror, they start to like, appreciate and respect the person looking back.  

The effect this can have on the rest of their lives can be life changing. When you are confident in yourself, people react to you differently and you feel like you can achieve anything. It's witnessing this change and knowing that I'm partly responsible for it that gives me the most pleasure.  

It's not rocket science but I truly believe in the power that clothes have to transform both physically and emotionally!

"Once you realise you can achieve anything you put your mind to, it becomes a bit addictive!" ©Lydia Samuel Photography
How did you get there?

After years of working in a job that didn't fulfil or stimulate me mentally, I was lucky enough (didn't feel like that at the time but it was the best thing that ever happened to me) to be made redundant. I used it as an opportunity to take time out and think about what I really wanted to do.  

I studied textile design at University and initially thought about going back into that – but after doing a couple of short courses in textile design which I did really enjoy, I realised it was only ever going to remain a hobby rather than a new career. I needed to think of something else.

I've always wanted a job that was going to make a difference to peoples lives and that I was also passionate about. I have always loved clothes and how they make me feel and over the years have often been asked for fashion advice  I was obsessed with the TV make over shows - Trinny and Susanna, Gok Wan and Ten Years Younger, and in a flash of inspiration whilst sitting on our sofa thinking about life! it came to me – Image Consultancy. 

I retrained last year and can honestly say it's the best thing I've ever done.

How long have you been running your business for?

Just over a year – I retrained last September after moving to Bristol in April from London.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far becoming an Image Consultant?
 ©Lydia Samuel Photography
It was taking that first step.  Initially I had to overcome those negative thoughts that I couldn’t do it.  Over the years I've missed out on many great opportunities because of fear of failure but this was one thing I was really passionate about and wanted to succeed at and I realised that the only person stopping me, was me! So I thought – ok what have I got to lose? It took me a while to retrain my thought processes but once you realise you can achieve anything you put your mind to, it becomes a bit addictive!

So now I'm busy establishing myself and my business and building up my client base which is going really well.  Moving to Bristol from London - I didn’t know anyone, so I’ve had to overcome my fear of networking (walking into a room where you don't know anyone and having to introduce yourself took some getting used to!) - but now I really love it! I've found the people in Bristol extremely supportive and that has been a huge part in growing my business – but I’m still learning. It never stops!

What’s been the highlight so far in owning and running your own business?

Well – all of it! It’s all been brilliant! I love seeing the women I've helped grow in confidence but  at the moment, if I was to think of one thing – it's the project I’m currently involved in which is so unique in it's offering. I’m working with an amazing life coach, nutritionist and personal trainer and we’ve developed a six week self-development programme for women called ‘Inside Out’. 

The programme focuses on all aspects of what wellness is and has been designed to help women remove negative thought processes and achieve anything they want in life i.e. work/life balance, better relationships, weight loss etc.  

As far as we know nothing else exists like this in Bristol and I'm so excited for our launch event on the 27th September at The Pavillion.  We've all worked so hard for it, it's going to be an amazing evening! I feel extremely grateful to be doing something I really love.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Believe in yourself and do it, don't ever let fear stop you!

What have you learnt about yourself as a result of becoming self-employed?

That I’m actually a bit shyer than I thought I was but also that a I’m a lot stronger too.  I’ve discovered that if I put my mind to something – I really can achieve it! I wish I’d known that when I was younger!

I'm also thankful that I now have the skills and knowledge to be able to help those less fortunate than myself.  I’ve always wanted to volunteer for a charity but before becoming an Image Consultant – didn’t know what I could ‘give’ that would add value.  

Since moving to Bristol I've been volunteering with my local St.Peter’s hospice shop dressing their window displays and helping customers with any clothing advice they might need which is so much fun.  I was also involved with their 6 week social media trial in the Gloucester Road branch, where using the current trends as inspiration I dressed their mannequins and then blogged about them to see if it would boost their sales – which it did!

Looking good isn't just about spending loads of money, and buying from charity shops is a great way of finding unique items and supporting a really worthwhile cause at the same time. I’ve found some amazing things rummaging around charity shops and I never leave empty handed!

Karen showing me how using scarfs can completely change and outfit. Laughing as discovered I'm a cross between a Pear and an Apple shape - so that makes me a Pearple. ©Lydia Samuel Photography

Can you tell me about any success stories with a client?

Yes – one lady in particular sticks in my mind.  She now has three children but before having a family she used to really enjoy taking care of herself and took pride in the way she looked.  After having children she put on weight and a change in lifestyle meant that she no longer had the time she used to, to spend on herself.  

As a result her confidence nose dived, and she started to feel bland and invisible.  She'd reached a point where she knew she had to do something about it and so asked me for help. I started off with a wardrobe consultation, assessing her wardrobe, clearing out the items that didn't do anything for her and then with the pieces that did, mixed and matched new outfits in a way that she would never have thought of doing. 

I’m keen to help people use what they already have and make slight alterations rather than saying we must go shopping!  Often, women have loads of great clothes in their wardrobe but lack the confidence in knowing how to wear and style them.  Accessories are a big part of what I do and demonstrating how a necklace or scarf can transform an outfit is a real eye opener!

So, after reviewing my clients wardrobe and making some changes and suggestions, I took her shopping to fill those gaps that would enhance what she already owned rather than replace it.  

A few weeks later she was like a new woman! I know it sounds amazing to say but it had such an impact – I could truly see what a difference it had made to her, she was glowing and re-energized. She told me she was much happier and as a result had loads more patience and energy, which in turn meant her husband and kids were happier too. I’ve recently heard that she has got a new job and that it’s been down to that fact she’d felt confident enough to apply for it in the first place! Its so great to have helped her in this way. 

After all what’s more important than liking yourself?

If others want to do this I’d say...

Always believe that what you are doing is important. Accept who you are and be the best you can be.

What’s next?

Well as I mentioned – the ‘Inside Out’ programme which I’m very excited about – and I’d also like to do more work supporting charities, especially – Penny Brohn Cancer Care.  And of course, helping more and more women learn to love how they look.

Karen’s top tips are:
  • Focus on the parts of your body you like;
    Don't dress to hide the bits you don't – all you'll do is accentuate them and draw attention to the area you're trying to hide.
  • Use accessories to update your wardrobe and keep your look modern;You don’t need lots of money to do this – a belt of scarf can completely change an outfit
  • Celebrate who you are and embrace your uniquenss!

For more information on the Inside Out programme visit http://www.holsamlifecoaching.com/inside-out.html

Or to book a one to one to see how Karen can help you – visit her website:
www.karenl.co.uk or call  0771 875 0019.

Karen and I with 'Do What You Love' limited edition bags. The perfect accessory!! ;-) ©Lydia Samuel Photography
 What is The 'Do What You Love' Project..?

After printing this message on my bags I thought - ooh I'd love to find ten local Bristol business people who do what they love, interview them about what they do, why they love it and how they've got there and also 'model' one of my bags / cushions.  

I really wanted to work with a local photographer - so approached Lydia Samuel via Outset to see if she would be interested in collaborating with me. She was! Perfect!

So a call-out was created, posted on facebook and twitter and people started applying! Over thirty people applied, and it was really difficult to choose ten. I spent my time going through each application and selected the ten as I felt their passion really shone through. 

Everyone who applied will be featured though in some way as I think it's important to celebrate everyone who is doing something they love!

These interviews and photographs are the results.

I hope you enjoy reading this series of interviews, and that it will inspire you in some way to pursue your dreams and ‘Do what you Love!’  (that is if you aren’t doing that already! - if you are - do let me know by leaving a comment about what you do and why you love it!). 

Want your own 'Do What You Love' bag and cushion? 
They are currently on sale at the Pop-up Shop FABRIC in The Galleries, Bristol until the end of October, or email me directly bagsofloveforbristol@gmail.com. And why not come and say hello on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bags-of-Love-for-Bristol/444261982265482

Friday, 21 September 2012

Do What You Love - Interview no.3 - Sophie Cooper

The third interview in a series of ten - meeting Bristol people who 'Do What They Love!'


Sophie Cooper - Sports Coach


If, Iike me, you really got into the spirit of the Olympics and the Paralympics, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about the very enthusiastic and dedicated Sophie Cooper who is a sports coach...I was totally inspired by what this young lady has achieved so far and it was a real pleasure to meet her at Frenchay Cricket Club recently.

Sophie Cooper - Sports Coach demonstrates how to hold a cricket bat correctly
©Lydia Samuel Photography

Name: Sophie Cooper
Age: 26
Business: Sophie Cooper Sports Coaching
Location: Bristol North, Bristol Central, Bristol South and South Gloucestershire
Website: In Progress. I am developing a LinkedIn page and a twitter page

What do you do?

I am a multi discipline sports coach and qualified youth worker. I create community sports projects for young people, disability groups and children. The main sports I teach are Cricket, Football and Basketball, for which I have taken national qualifications. My work involves creating mutually beneficial partnerships with sports agencies, local authority and members of the community. 

My current clients are Bristol City Council’s Sport & Health Development team, Everyone Active Leisure Centres where I do disability sports, and Gloucestershire Cricket Board. Whilst training to become a professional sports coach I spent one year volunteering with ‘The Catch Youth Club’ at Redcatch Park in Knowle (a deprived ward of Bristol) where I developed a sports programme. 

I have also put my hand to assistant teaching and tutoring roles in Primary and Secondary schools which have encouraged many children to work towards a healthy and active lifestyle.

What do you love most about it? 

It combines an active job with meeting and working with many people representing the diverse community of Bristol. As the Olympics has shown, Sport has the power to bring people together for good and is brilliant for teaching life skills like sportsmanship and teamwork. 

Being freelance allows me to choose projects I find interesting and challenging. I enjoy running a business and I have a wonderful network of colleagues who are supportive and also passionate about their jobs.

Sophie sporting a 'Do What You Love' bag with some of her Frenchay cricket students in the background
©Lydia Samuel Photography

How did you get there?

I developed a personal passion for basketball in 2010 when I found a women’s local league team in my area. My degree in Arts, music and entertainment management, which I studied in Liverpool, wasn’t - I feel -  really relevant back home in Bristol and I was facing unemployment. Joining the women’s team boosted my confidence and helped me to make new friends. 

Shortly afterwards I joined a volunteering course at City of Bristol College which involved a 10 week Sports Leaders course and a NVQ2 in Youth Work. I have contributed over 250 hours to local community projects and placements in 2011 including the Youth Club and an FE College Basketball Team. 

My efforts caught the attention of the local authority and I was asked to join the Street Games coaching team, which led to work with National Sporting Bodies including Street Chance and Street 20 Cricket initiatives.

How long have you been running your business for?

In 2012 I started to take my collection of small part-time coaching roles more seriously and developed a business plan with the help of Outset Bristol. It was a huge boost when I was accepted onto the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme with Job Centre Plus and Brave. 

In May I have been focusing on developing a sustainable income from sports coaching and I have found a niche in disability sport. I now run a successful Visual Impairment Cricket Group and two Learning Disability Cricket groups. 

I have learned many business skills for example dealing with senior and commercial managers, managing finances and tax, maintaining a diary of work and replying to correspondence as well as applying for work and funding. Having had that management element of my degree has definitely helped me in my business.


Sophie demonstrating to her students how to stand when waiting for that red ball!
©Lydia Samuel Photography


 What was the biggest challenge you faced setting up as a Sport Coach?

Having to work and communicate with such a broad range of people. On two levels – getting the work/projects so that can mean talking to the head of the council on one hand and then working with the students themselves. So far I’ve worked with students with learning difficulties, teenagers (being the only girl working with a bunch of 16 years old boys was interesting!) through to Asian women, actually - I think I’ve worked with nearly all parts of the community! So being able to work well with such a range of people and to be able to get them engaged is something I am still learning! But it is very rewarding.

Also changing peoples perceptions of Cricket. For a lot of people It’s seen as being upper class, so I’m trying to show It’s for everybody.

And there aren’t many women in my position. I have met quite a few who are involved in the sports – so as development officers, but as far as I know I’m the only woman currently coaching cricket and basketball. Which are seen as being male dominated sports. I’d like to see more women getting involved at this level.

What’s been the highlight so far?

Working with Frenchay Cricket Club as a disability coach. Being able to help others through sport and cricket in particular has been amazing. The benefits of how sport can help people with difficulties is hugely important and shouldn’t be underestimated. If you’ve watched any of the Olympics and the Paralympics you can see that for yourself how it’s changed peoples lives – for the better. ;-)

What’s the Best piece of Advice you’ve been given?

I can’t think of one thing in particular to be honest – but I know my Dad has been very influential as he has always run his own businesses.  And Maggie Hopkins has also been a great influence – Maggie teaches the Level III Youth Worker Qualification at The City of Bristol College. So really I’d like to thank them for their support.

What have you learnt about yourself as a result of setting up your business?

That I’m determined and strong spirited. It’s hard work being self-employed so I’ve discovered I’m very driven. This is something I’m passionate about.

Can you tell me about any success stories from Students?

Yes, I was involved in a three month volunteer placement at the redeveloped Hartcliffe School as part of a programme run by Catch22. I was working with 12-15 year old girls and coaching them during their sports sessions. As a result the girls gained confidence – at that age lots of girls drop out of sport as they feel self-confident – but it really made a difference. Also after I completed the three months the school asked for two more volunteers for the following year. This was brilliant news!

Sophie and I and the end of the interview and photoshoot. Sophie did try to explain the rules of cricket to me! ©Lydia Samuel Photography
If others want to do this I’d say...

Go for it!

What’s next?

To carry on working with the great people at Frenchay Cricket Club, seeing my students develop, – and to get my Level II in Cricket coaching. That’s more technical and also involves the ‘whole’ approach to the sport – so diet, fitness  - it’s a holistic approach. Then I’ll be qualified to hold one-to-one coaching sessions. I’ll be starting that in November and I’m really looking forward to that.

I also want to get more involved with working with elite athletics. It’s a dream of mine to go the Rio Olympics in 2016 and support the team as a coach. That would be AMAZING! And of course to continue to encourage young women into sport and also into coaching.

And – to get back into playing my guitar and singing. I’ve been so focused on setting myself and my business up that I’ve not had much time for anything else – but those are both things I love and want to find time to do again.

Sophie recently took part in a sports art installation at PaintworksA
And her cricket group has recently received 40k worth of funding!

If you'd like to get in touch with Sophie about sports coaching her email address is: sophiecoopers@yahoo.co.uk

Business support in Bristol: 
Outset Bristol: http://www.outsetbristol.co.uk/
BRAVE: http://www.brave.org.uk/


What is The 'Do What You Love' Project..?

After printing this message on my bags I thought - ooh I'd love to find ten local Bristol business people who do what they love, interview them about what they do, why they love it and how they've got there and also 'model' one of my bags / cushions.  

I really wanted to work with a local photographer - so approached Lydia Samuel via Outset to see if she would be interested in collaborating with me. She was! Perfect!

So a call-out was created, posted on facebook and twitter and people started applying! Over thirty people applied, and it was really difficult to choose ten. I spent my time going through each application and selected the ten as I felt their passion really shone through. 

Everyone who applied will be featured though in some way as I think it's important to celebrate everyone who is doing something they love!

These interviews and photographs are the results.

I hope you enjoy reading this series of interviews, and that it will inspire you in some way to pursue your dreams and ‘Do what you Love!’  (that is if you aren’t doing that already! - if you are - do let me know by leaving a comment about what you do and why you love it!). 

Want your own 'Do What You Love Bag?' they are currently on sale at Paper Scissors Stone in Quaker Friars, Bristol until 25 September, or email me directly bagsofloveforbristol@gmail.com. And why not come and say hello on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bags-of-Love-for-Bristol/444261982265482

Monday, 10 September 2012

Do What You Love - Interview no.2 - Sian Fish

The second interview in a series of ten - meeting Bristol people who 'Do what they love!'


Sian Fish - Anything But Plain Chocolate


Sian Fish of Anything But Plain Chocolate with a selection of her chocolate delights!
Today lets meet the lovely Sian Fish – a Chocologist. Sian combines the skill and science of chocolate making  with a good dose of fun and unusual  flavour combinations  – creating something just that little bit different. After all isn’t chocolate supposed to be fun?

Name: Sian Fish
Age: 34
Business: Anything But Plain Chocolate
Location: Warmley, Bristol
Website: anythingbutplainchocolate.co.uk

What do you do? 
I make unusual chocolates

How long have you been running your business for?
I've just started, so a couple of months

What do you love most about it? 
Who doesn't love chocolate?  I love coming up with funky ideas and I love seeing people's reactions.

Sian with her famous chocolate frogs
How did you get there?
After having two kids I decided I wanted to be at home, I used to work long hours in IT, managing a helpdesk but after having my youngest who’s now 7 months old, I wanted to do something that I loved. After racking my brain I decided I'd fall back on my one true love, chocolate.  I wanted it to reflect my personality, something quirky and fun.
I’m entirely self taught and after deciding ‘This was it – chocolate’ I went and bought all the best chocolate books I could find (which aren’t cheap) and spent a lot of time on chocolate dedicated forums – which are mainly based in America as Chocolate making is very popular over there.
Two chocolatiers  in particular really inspired me. Paul A Young, inventor of marmite chocolate and port and stilton chocolate and who’s book ‘Adventures in Chocolate’ really made me decide this was what I 



wanted to do, and William Curley, who also creates interesting chocolates and was the inspiration for my confit fruit range.

What was the biggest challenge you faced setting up your chocolate business?
Understanding the science behind the art of being a chocolatier. There is a lot more to it than just popping some chocolate in a pan and melting it! There are six different types of crystals in chocolate and that affects the flavour and the ‘snap’. The sign of a good chocolate is the ‘snap’. The reason chocolate such as cadburys  is ‘soft’ and there is no snap is due to the high vegetable oil content – which, although makes it smooth, it changes the characteristics of chocolate.

Chocolate preforms best at certain temperatures (16-18ÂșC)  so I invested in a ‘chocolate’ fridge as a standard fridge is just too cold and humid.  There was lots of trial and error at the beginning, which meant I had lots of ‘visitors’ keen to help me out!!

 It’s a fascinating process and although now I have mastered the skills – I’m still learning.
So now it’s trying to find the right people to sell to. As it is still a new business I’m experimenting  with where the best places to sell are.

oh and running a business whilst brining up two small children! My three year old has an amazing ability to run through the kitchen and take chocolate with him without me noticing! (although my husband also has this skill so he must get it from him!)

Sian showing me how she decorates her frogs
What’s been the highlight so far in owning and running your own business?
Meeting such an amazing range of people! I love talking to people at the different markets I sell at, especially on Whiteladies Road, Bristol.  The other day I met a fantastic character, an elderly gent with brightly coloured clothes and a peacock feather in his cap. He bought lots of chocolate hearts while we discussed the psychology of them.

Everyone comments on the brightly coloured chocolate frogs. I make one frog – the North American Exploding Frog - with popping candy and they really appeal to people over 30! They’ll come along with their children and suddenly be transported back to being a kid and end up buying more for themselves than their children! That’s what I love about this –it brings out the ‘kid’ in all of us.

And of course experimenting with different flavour combinations. Like the ‘twisted  crisps’. These are lightly salted potato crisps that have been dipped in smooth Belgian chocolate with either chilli flakes or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to add a unique flavour. They are something that you think – ‘that can’t possibly work’ but it does! I love seeing the expression on peoples faces when they try them.

Lydia on the other side of the camera for a change...;-)
What’s the Best piece of Advice you’ve been given?
Stick at it. I know that the first year in any business is tough, so just to keep going.

What have you learnt about yourself as a result of setting up your business?
That I’m tenacious! I didn’t realise how determined I was until starting my business. Of course I want my business to be successful, but have learnt that it will take more that a few knocks to stop me!

Here's some we made earlier! While we were there Sian let us
loose on some chocolate! These are the results
If others want to do this I’d say...Same as the best advice I’ve been given – Stick at it!

What’s next for Anything But Plain Chocolate?
We are going to specialise in making special chocolates for weddings. We make some very beautiful rosemary and sea salt small chocolates that are perfect for favours. And as I have the facility to spray colour the chocolates (with coloured coco butter which comes from France. They produce the highest quality, you have to be careful with colourings as I found that a lot are full of nasty E numbers – which I don’t want in my chocolate),

I can colour them to match the brides colour scheme – so creating something totally bespoke and unique. Making their special day -  just that little bit extra special.
We will still make our chocolate frogs and truffles but will focus on this area.

What’s you favourite chocolate flavour combination?
Has to be Coffee. But to be honest I’ll eat any flavour!

Where can you buy Anything But Plain Chocolates?

and the following markets:
September
Saturday 1st - Sustainable Redland Farmers Market – Whiteladies Rd, Bristol
Saturday 15th - Sustainable Redland Farmers Market – Whiteladies Rd, Bristol
Friday 28th - Bradley Stoke Farmers Market – Willow Brook Centre, Savages Wood Road, Bradley Stoke, Bristol
Saturday 29th – Chipping Sodbury Jazz Festival, Chipping Sodbury

October
Saturday 6th - Sustainable Redland Farmers Market – Whiteladies Rd, Bristol
Saturday 20th - Macmillan Coffee Morning – Marlborough Town Hall, Marlborough
Sunday 21st – Ashton Court Farmers Market – Ashton Court, Bristol
Friday 26th - Bradley Stoke Farmers Market – Willow Brook Centre, Savages Wood Road, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

November
Saturday 3rd - Sustainable Redland Farmers Market – Whiteladies Rd, Bristol
Saturday 17th - Sustainable Redland Farmers Market – Whiteladies Rd, Bristol
Sunday 18th – Ashton Court Farmers Market – Ashton Court, Bristol
Friday 23rd - Bradley Stoke Farmers Market – Willow Brook Centre, Savages Wood Road, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

December
Saturday 1st – Ashton Court Christmas Fayre – Ashton Court, Bristol
Sunday 2nd - Ashton Court Christmas Fayre – Ashton Court, Bristol
Saturday 15th - Sustainable Redland Farmers Market – Whiteladies Rd, Bristol


And I’m currently investigating which outlets I’d like to stock my chocolates..



What is The 'Do What You Love' Project..?

After printing this message on my bags I thought - ooh I'd love to find ten local Bristol business people who do what they love, interview them about what they do, why they love it and how they've got there and also 'model' one of my bags.  

I really wanted to work with a local photographer - so approached Lydia Samuel via Outset to see if she would be interested in collaborating with me. She was! Perfect!

So a call-out was created, posted on facebook and twitter and people started applying! Over thirty people applied, and it was really difficult to choose ten. I spent my time going through each application and selected the ten as I felt their passion really shone through. 

Everyone who applied will be featured though in some way as I think it's important to celebrate everyone who is doing something they love!

These interviews and photographs are the results.

I hope you enjoy reading this series of interviews, and that it will inspire you in some way to pursue your dreams and ‘Do what you Love!’  (that is if you aren’t doing that already! - if you are - do let me know by leaving a comment about what you do and why you love it!).

Want your own 'Do What You Love Bag?' they are currently on sale at Paper Scissors Stone in Quaker Friars, Bristol or email me directly bagsofloveforbristol@gmail.com. And why not come and say hello on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bags-of-Love-for-Bristol/444261982265482

Monday, 3 September 2012

Do What You Love - Interview no.1 - Claire Fenwick

Well, once again lots has happened since I last posted - the Pop-Up shop that I'm in - Paper Scissors Stone opened on the 01 August, and I've really been enjoying the experience of being part of that, and Lydia and I have started meeting, interviewing and photographing the ten people I selected as part of the 'Do What You Love' Project! So with out further delay - Please let me introduce you to Claire Fenwick...

Claire Fenwick – Bristol School of Sewing and Textiles


Claire Fenwick - at her School of Sewing and Textiles in Bedminster, Bristol.
All photographs ©Lydia Samuel Photography



Say hello to Claire Fenwick, Claire owns and runs the Bristol School of Sewing & Textiles and is the first of the ten people to be interviewed as part of my ‘Do what you love project’. 
It was fantastic and great fun to meet Claire. Claire is clearly very passionate about what she does and has bags of enthusiasm for her school and all of the teachers she works with.    The School is set in a fantastic space in The College Project, off Marksbury Road in Bedminster – a really amazing place which runs a whole host of classes and events.

Name:  Claire Fenwick
Age: 39
Location: Bedminster, Bristol
Website: www.bristolsewingschool.co.uk

What do you do?

I own and run a school dedicated to sewing and textiles for adults and children.

What do you love about it?

The feedback from the students once they’ve been on one of the school’s workshops just makes me smile. The teachers I work with are all lovely and really know their crafts and promoting what they do is a pleasure. And finally, I get to make things, be creative and meet new people in a relaxed informal environment, what’s not to like?


Interviewing Claire
All photographs ©Lydia Samuel Photography
How did you get there?

I studied Graphic design at Middlesex university, but although I enjoyed the creative element, felt it was too commercial, so I fell into a secretarial role and worked as an office manager and PA for many years. 

I’ve always been creative but at uni I was trying to be sensible and took the wrong option for me – graphic design – when what I really wanted to do was knit and make things! But back then I didn’t know how to make a living doing that.

As I have gotten older (am soon to be reaching a milestone!) I realised that I wanted to do something more fulfilling and started to think about what I enjoyed doing. I decided I wanted to re-train in textiles and started to look for courses in Bristol that I could do alongside working.  I couldn’t find what I was looking for so had the brainwave to start my own school.  From that idea I started looking for a space and actually found where I am now whilst out walking my dog. Then I began contacting people I knew that had the skills in textiles to see if they were interested in teaching at the school – and it grew from there. I now have 10 teachers on my books and am now getting people coming to me asking to be part of it.

Although I didn’t enjoy my previous jobs, they have certainly helped me to achieve what I have today.

How long has the school been open?

Since March 2012, so not long at all. It’s still early days but all the positive feedback has really helped to convince me that I’m doing the right thing.

What was the biggest challenge you faced setting up the School?

Financing it. It’s completely self-funded, I saved up enough before taking the plunge. Although not having access to lots of money does make you more creative – and I feel that not having everything handed on a plate makes it feel more genuine.

What’s been the highlight so far in owning and running your own business?

Getting the first full paying class (that wasn’t made up of friends and family!)
We like to have small classes of no more than six pupils at a time, this helps to build confidence and provide each student with plenty of time with the tutor.
Also being able to pass the knowledge on. Both my Mum and nana are great knitters so it’s been lovely calling them up and asking for advice. It’s also actually changed the relationship with my mother -in-law as we now have a shared passion for knitting and it’s almost been like a bonding session as we’ll sit together and knit and then end up talking about all kinds of things. That’s been lovely actually.

Can you tell me about any success stories from Students?
One of the very first classes we ran was a Machine Embroidery workshop. Students find this such a great, creative craft. One lady has now gone on to start her own textiles based business using the machine embroidery as part of her upcycled products http://www.facebook.com/DipsychicksSue

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Just ignore all the advice!

What have you learnt about yourself as a result of setting up the school?

That I can do anything! If I put my mind to it I can do it and the passion for what I’m doing sees me through the challenges. I’ve also become more tolerant with problems that arise – in the first two months of opening – there was a flood and I had to deal with that.

If others want to do this I’d say...

Try and stick at what you are doing to get some savings behind you – and do your research before starting up.

What’s next for the School?

Lots! I have so many ideas – one of my main ambitions is to offer City & Guilds as well as being able to actually run courses myself. I do actually come on some of the courses that are run here – after all that was why I set the school up in the first place! We are also hoping to offer tailoring and costume making courses soon.
It’s been an amazing experience so far.  And I do sometimes feel a bit guilty that what I do now doesn’t feel like work, for example I met a costumier the other day and we spent the morning talking about crinolines and bustles.  ;-)

Upcoming events for the Bristol School of Sewing and Textiles:

Fabric & Wool swap – 16 September  - 11.00 – 13.00 Free event – Bring along any fabric and wool you’d like to swap.

Fashion Show ‘The Magical Show of Fashion – Fairground Theme - 20 October, 7pm, £5 per ticket (includes donation to charity) at the College Project

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BristolSewingSchool

Twitter: @bristolsewing

The College Project website: http://www.artspacecollege.com/

Thank you Claire for being part of the project!


Class sizes are small so each student gets quality time with the tutor
All photographs ©Lydia Samuel Photography


What is The 'Do What You Love' Project..?
After printing this message on my bags I thought - ooh I'd love to find ten local Bristol business people who do what they love, interview them about what they do, why they love it and how they've got there and also 'model' one of my bags.  

I really wanted to work with a local photographer - so approached Lydia Samuel via Outset to see if she would be interested in collaborating with me. She was! Perfect!

So a call-out was created, posted on facebook and twitter and people started applying! Over thirty people applied, and it was really difficult to choose ten. I spent my time going through each application and selected the ten as I felt their passion really shone through. 

Everyone who applied will be featured though in some way as I think it's important to celebrate everyone who is doing something they love!

These interviews and photographs are the results.