Celebrating 10 years in business!

How do you begin to sum up 10 years in business?

There are the cliches of it being a rollercoaster, learning curve, etc, which of course it is when you’re a sole trader with responsibility for everything.

But it’s quite hard to look back and take in the enormity of managing to keep going for a decade – particularly the last decade!

Creative Calligraphy is celebrating 10 years in business.
Creative Calligraphy is celebrating 10 years in business.

The early days of Creative Calligraphy

I set up Creative Calligraphy after a 13-year career in journalism.

I knew I wanted to be a journalist from about the age of 11. I’d harboured dreams of running my own business since doing GCSE Business Studies a few years later.

When redundancy was offered, it gave me the opportunity to turn my calligraphy hobby into a business I could work around my two young children.

I left the newsroom for the last time in January 2014 and immediately started work on setting up Creative Calligraphy, officially launching on May 27, 2014.

I qualified for the New Enterprise Allowance and received start-up support from Tedco in South Shields and also the North East Business and Innovation Centre in Sunderland.

I also had a lot of help from The Inspire Network, which was then a business support group for self-employed mums in the north east. I’m still in touch with quite a few of the women I met there.

Angela Reed
My very first photo shoot for my website – my former The Shields Gazette colleague Craig Leng was behind the lens.

In that first year, I had 30 orders and held workshops at Bede’s World (now Jarrow Hall) and Ridgeway Primary School.

The absolute highlight was being involved in a public art project for Tyne and Wear Metro.

(For a round-up of other highlights from the last decade, read this blog post.)

Slow and steady wins the race

Creative Calligraphy has grown steadily and I could say quite by accident ever since.

Being in the right place at the right time has led to some exciting projects, but I’m also a firm believer in making your own luck – you have to be there to begin with!

My skills in making and building contacts as a journalist have definitely stood me in good stead for running a business.

But I’ve had to get my head around social media and constantly changing algorithms, websites and search engine optimisation, accounts, sales, marketing and most importantly, teaching!

Creative Calligraphy running a workshop at The Art Room Sunderland.
Running a workshop at The Art Room Sunderland.

Calligraphy workshops take flight

The workshop side of my business took off after I was asked to run classes for The Cultural Spring in South Tyneside in September 2015.

Many of the people who came along to those session are still with me in my weekly groups, which now run independently and are affiliated to the Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society (CLAS).

I have added several venues over the years and now run regular classes at Re-Create Today in Whitley Bay, From Loft to Loved in Sedgefield and Elvet & Bailey in Durham.

I’m also a tutor at Newcastle Arts Centre, The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle and The Art Room Sunderland and have been asked to run workshops for organisations including Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums and Northumberland Archives.

My 32-year-old self would be very pleased about this!

A decade in business – but there’s always more to learn.

I may have been in business for 10 years, but I’m still learning.

I took advantage of some coaching with Caroline Pearce towards the end of last year and I’ve most recently completed the Create North Thrive & Grow programme.

Both of these were offered via the South Tyneside Cultural Partnership, which is a growing force on the burgeoning north east cultural scene.

Culture, craft and wellbeing all seem to be big at the moment, so hopefully Creative Calligraphy can ride the crest of that wave too.

Creative Calligraphy at a desk.
Making plans for the next 10 years in business!

Ten things for 10 years in business

I have set myself a challenge of ‘10 things for 10 years’ to mark this milestone birthday.

Some things are quite small, such as introducing ticketing to my website so workshop bookings can be made directly with me.

Others are quite big, such as successfully applying for a second Arts Council England Project Grant and my weekly groups receiving Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society (CLAS) affiliation.

I’ve also invested in new photography and thoroughly enjoyed my photoshoot with RJM Photography at The Art Room Sunderland last month.

I’ve also got 10 giveaways planned and will be spreading those around my social media and newsletter subscribers over the next 10 months.

Keep your eyes peeled for more announcements in the coming months – and let’s see what the next 10 years brings!

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