Before I come back to the ‘List’ I wanted to just give some of you reading a little idea of who I am. Not the my name is.. I mean more the kind of person I am. A few years back I had a business that I’d nurtured and built up from my ‘end room’ a business that had started as many of the things in my life do with a little idea. I had thought of starting after school classes for children teaching them arts and crafts. Now mind you I wasn’t in anyway qualified but I had something better than any qualification, I had passion and I had self belief. So in the year I turned 30 I reinvented myself and became an after school arts&crafts teacher.
Photo of me at the children’s Art exhibition at Glor in Ennis.
Many of you reading will perhaps wonder if I’m actually mad, I am a little but not in the way you think. You see in the build up to my idea I had sat nursing my newborn son and whilst flicking through the channels one morning I had found a two hour program showing/selling arty crafty bits. I watched and learned. Sometimes what I’d see would inspire me to pop the kids in the car go to my local art shop and seek out the ‘Cards, Stamps, Paints’ etc etc that I had just seen. No waiting around for something to come from a shopping channel for me. Now sometimes Shane would have what I seeked, sometimes he’d say “I haven’t seen one of those in years” and on a very odd occasion he’d tell me he’d never even heard of this magic craft I needed so urgently in my life. It had begun. Now as I said that same year I turned 30 and for my birthday I wanted to try Watercolour painting (a certain show on RTÉ Simply Painting with Frank Clark had me a little obsessed) so out of my birthday money I bought all the supplies I need. When I played with the paints I often included my two girls and we had great fun trying out the paints. This as it turns out would be the launch pad for my business. I spent a few months as well as a small fortune on these new obsessions. In early September I thought a little about children’s after school classes but didn’t think I could as I hadn’t gone to college. A chance chat with a friend soon changed my mind. She asked if I’d be returning to work (I had been a nail technician when we were a rare breed right up to the time my little man had been born) I told her no, Jack had, had bad eczema at birth and his dad blamed the nail business! I said for the first time out loud that I had half thought about children’s after school Craft classes but…. I had trailed off thinking about not having any qualifications. She said missing the lack of ending to my sentence, “well if you do start book my two in, I’ve seen what you’ve done with your own two and my lads would love it.” In that moment she gave me the confidance to go for it. I went home and put a plan into place. I also went home and booked myself into Pottery classes down in Ballymorris Pottery as I felt it was the one thing I lacked to open the business. The classes were starting the following week. So to cut a long story a little short, I had a fair stock of supplies built up, I made flyers, I put them up everywhere, people brought their children to me and the business was born. Salt Dough sheep was week one and I proudly saw one hanging in a house not so long ago (15 years later) I went from about 30/40 children coming to me in 2002 to my peak at home in 2005/2006 of 72 children. Now this may not seem huge to ye but I was working from home, I’d had another little man so I now had 4 children and I worked 3.30-5pm and 5.30-7pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. It was the perfect Job for a full time mammy. Looking back I think what made it successful was the fact I was self taught. I spent hours finding new fun projects, I brought in things from UKand even the US when I couldn’t get what I wanted here. I was enthusiastic and made it fun! I bought a kiln and had everything needed to run a good craft teaching business. Also the fact I had to find a new project to do every week fed into and satisfied my personality which tends to need constant ‘New Ideas’. It was win-win. All was going fine until it got too big for home. An upset neighbour meant I moved the business to my second home at the time – the local GAA club. Around this time it really took off. I was a wanted woman. I travelled to houses doing birthday parties, I did workshops, local women’s groups had Pottery painting evenings with me and I became very very busy. Now skipping a small bit here after a Nasty comment, huge weight loss, a pituitary tumour diagnosis and a phone call I ended up with a 3,000sq ft art shop. Over two floors there was a party area, a pottery painting studio and a full art supply shop. In some ways a dream come true(though in my actual dream I built the workshop/studio out on a half acre site and not in an industrial estate) in some ways way way more than I had ever wanted. There I was at 36 years old in early 2008 a fantastic unique business opened, what could go wrong..
To be continued..