AN ENTERPRISING programme which launched a series of workshops for rural business owners has supported more than 90 creative start-up businesses in County Durham,
The Durham Creatives programme, which fostered the talents of dozens of creative entrepreneurs, was commissioned by Business Durham to run a series of workshops at the premises it manages, the Durham Dales Centre, in Stanhope, Weardale.
The free programme, which was set up four years ago, helped fledgling entrepreneurs by delivering practical workshops on how to run a business, with subjects such as finance, marketing, patent protection and selling online, as well as personal mentoring.
Many of the businesses it supported have been started by people who have been made redundant; want a better work life balance or who are finally realising their dreams to turn their hobbies and passions into thriving ventures.
Successful entrepreneurs who have taken part in the programme include Ross McPhie, who set up the online men’s fashion brand I Sunk Your Battleship in Durham after a fashion career designing for the likes of Rip Curl and Nike and jewellery designer Hannah Wood, of Frosterley, who creates her own designs under the brand Hannah Peters Jewellery for customers across the world.
Fellow jewellery designer Kate Gorman, a former accountant who set up Kate Gorman Design, also benefitted from the programme and has seen her products stocked in the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead, and sold across the country.
“The one-to-one coaching helped me think creatively about how to grow my customer base and offered me a useful sounding board,” said Kate, who lives in Durham City. “Perhaps most importantly for me, it helped me to maintain my confidence in those difficult patches that all start-ups inevitably hit. It was quite scary starting my own business but the support from Durham Creatives really helped me.”
Sarah Slaven, business development director with Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, said: “The Durham Creatives programme has proved phenomenally successful at helping creative people take their hobbies and ideas and turn them into flourishing businesses.
“We’re keen to make the Durham Dales Centre a place for enterprise, rather than simply a venue, which is why it’s a great place for people to be inspired by the Durham Creatives workshops.”
Meryl Levington, a partner with Blue Sky Think, which delivers the programme said: “The businesses we’ve supported range from animators and ceramicists to cushion makers and a luxury dog accessories company. The Dales Centre is Stanhope’s hidden gem and the rural setting lends itself to many creative people. Rural business owners can sometimes feel quite isolated but here they will find a friendly, supportive, enterprising environment which will help them on their entrepreneurial path.”
Find out more about the Durham Dales Centre by clicking here