Follow Your Heart

The September meeting of Telford & Wrekin WiRE was all about creating a business with meaning, the fascinating, challenging and very different journeys of two women.

Louise Welsby was a stressed out teacher in London with a daughter in and out of hospital when she decided to hand in her notice in 2013.  After moving back to her home county of Shropshire to improve her daughter’s health, Louise set about her dream of creating a new life and setting up her own business.

Taking part-time work whilst undertaking extensive research, Louise wanted to see if there was the need for a digital platform and a creative supportive community working with artists and makers in Shropshire.

She discovered that producers, often working from home, were isolated and struggled to market their products on line with little knowledge of social media and with sites like EBay and Amazon taking both their profit and identity.

The last year was a whirl of activity setting up Buy from Shropshire the online market place and shop window which is a celebration of those living, working and building wonderful things in our breath-taking county.

Louise’s top tips were to:

  • Train yourself in new skills so that no one can rip you off
  • Share and exchange your skills developing new partnerships
  • Ensure you are present in the digital world
  • Create something different and tell the story of your business
  • Invest in a business coach/mentor to help with strategy and focus
  • Never give up!

Buy from Shropshire was launched in October 2015 with just 15 suppliers for a 3 months trial period to see if customers wanted to Shop Local, but over the internet.

Her new website, launched in September this year, and has multiple reasons to visit. Handmade products to buy, a directory of producers, blogs, videos and inspiration pages of things to see, aiming at attracting visitors to Shropshire.

For producers, the site provides a supportive community, a forum, directory and affiliates, fulfilment, web design, help with social media and the support of a new business academy.

Louise then introduced us to Hazel McNab who woke up one day and found that everything in her life had changed. Needing to embark on a new chapter in her life she set herself the challenge to paint a heart a day for a year.

Originally this was for herself, painting something personal and writing some words or finding an inspiring quote but then she started to share her creations through her Facebook blog and found that other people related to her images and words

Hazel made the first heart on Valentine’s Day 2012, as that was a leap year this led to the name for her blog – 366Hearts. But when the 366th heart was done she was having too much fun to stop and she’s now taken the project to over 1000 hearts…and it’s not stopping there.

Hazel creates cards, lino cuts, books, commissions and offers a ‘Heart a Day’ on email or Facebook. In her drawings a girl in a red dress kept appearing and these hearts got more likes so now the Red Dress girl (who may be Helen herself…) has an identify and a book of her own ‘ She believed in Herself’.

Hazel’s story was inspirational, she went from darkness to an explosion of colour and joy as illustrated by her lovely hearts. As an artist she doesn’t just paint hearts she uses animals and flowers as her inspiration and her hearts could be a seascape, a landscape, a building but essentially 366 Hearts is all about feeling good, believing in yourself, and sharing the love.

I’ll second that.

Join Us At Our Next Meeting For A Guaranteed Warm Welcome

Thanks again to our brilliant network leaders Lena Churm, Sandra Owen and Kim Gilmour for making our networking meetings friendly &  inspiring and you cannot help but have lots of fun with Lena around!

Whichever networking group you love to be a part of, we are all ladies in business together, who can learn from one another and support one another in ways only networking can so.

Telford & Wrekin WiRE meet at the Marches Growth Hub at the University of Wolverhampton Telford Innovation Campus on the third Thursday of each month at 9.45am.

Blog written by Kim Gilmour  – Connect Consultancy – September 2016