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History in the making?

Posted 5/9/2021

10 years ago I was made redundant from a very stressful job managing a specialist dementia home care team in Bristol, I got work doing nights in a dementia care home in Chepstow, the money was good, but the hours were terrible. Care work had been something that had kept the wolf from the door, and there were times I enjoyed it, but for me it wasn’t enough, I wanted something to really get my teeth into. I thought about teaching computer lessons or maybe a glass decorating business-Ladybird Glass, but neither was quite right.

Then I found a lady in Pontefract that would teach me all I needed to know about starting my own Paint your own Pottery business, finally something creative I could do! So, I spent time learning about bisque and glazing, painting techniques and firing the kiln. It was a lot of money to start up and what if it didn’t work? But I wanted to move away from care work and so I had to make it work! On 1st September 2014 Ladybird Pottery was started as a mobile business visiting groups. InOctober I opened a small shop in part of the Abbey Mill at Tintern.

This was a brilliant way to cut my teeth in retail, the shop had a steady flow of tourists browsing, and I sold a lot of my own hand made ceramics, I was also able to rent space to other crafters to sell their wares. But I was still working nights in the care home and Tintern was very seasonal, lots of people on warm sunny days, but I could go a whole day without seeing anyone when it rained, so I was unable to take any wage from the business.

In December 2016 I took the plunge and left my night work to open a shop on Caldicot High Street. My husband was brilliant, building a kitchen in 7 days so I could serve drinks and cakes, and with one member of staff and of course help from Pauline, we managed to open 6 days a week. It was slow at first, most businesses are, but once summer 2017 had arrived trade improved greatly.

The staff team started to grow with student staff working in the holidays and Deb volunteering with the children’s activities. Deb then started helping with the coffee shop and later we joined forces and became a partnership with her decoupage and my pottery. Before we knew it, we had grown out of the first shop unit in Caldicot and were looking for a bigger place. We felt so lucky finding the old Barclays building as it has the car park at the back, the lawn at the front and lots of different rooms inside.

It took a lot of work to change the building from a bank to a colourful, creative place, and some things still need finishing. We changed the name to Ladybird Craft Centre when we moved in 2019, it made sense as we offered more than just pottery. In regards to surviving the pandemic, we’re not out of the woods yet, but things have improved, so let’s hope we’re here to tell the tail in another 7 years…or maybe more! Jo

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