Welcome to the first edition of our revamped Business Spotlight, where we’ll showcase a brand new range of businesses starting with The Workshop, Perth.
The Workshop is an art space designed to allow individuals to explore their ideas through a variety of art mediums. There are both adult and children's classes available which are open to all abilities. These are held in a relaxed atmosphere and are designed to encourage people to develop their own personal style.
Business owner: Julie Maceachen
Date business started: January 2013
Business location: 38 New Row Perth, PH1 5QA.
Business Tel: 07990 808451
1. What did you do before you started your business?
Before starting the workshop I was a Senior Support working caring for the elderly.
2. What drew you towards your field of business?
My partner Julian ran sculpting classes in his gallery and drafted me in to help with the children’s sessions. I began to experiment with my own techniques in clay and when I was made redundant, I decided to go back to College to undertake an HND in Contemporary Art.
The Workshop premises became available shortly after, there was no plan it all just seemed to happen!
3. What hurdles and challenges have you faced in getting to the stage you are currently at?
The premises had previously been a shop and needed a lot of work done to make it fit for running classes. Money was tight and so most of the refurbishment was done by Julian and myself.
The Workshop has always been an addition to other commitments. When I started it I was doing a full time HND, support work and teaching children’s clay classes with my partner, who also runs his own Gallery. This coupled with our children, (I have 4 my partner 2) meant that progress with promoting the workshop was slow. I am now undertaking a 2-year Masters in Art Psychotherapy but feel my juggling skills have improved enough to ensure the workshop can keep moving forward!
4. How has Elevator and Business Gateway helped you and your business on its journey?
Being self employed and running a business was completely new to me and I had no clue where to begin. My mentor at Business Gateway helped me to focus on where I wanted the business to go. He started by signing me up for the free workshops and put me in touch with their Women Into Business group, which was a great source of inspiration with good networking. My mentor also put me in touch with local funding which secured some materials for the workshop.
One of my concerns when I started up was that art classes were only accessible for those who could afford them, however to lower prices would not cover our costs. My mentor then also explained about operating as a Social Enterprise might help and put me in touch with the right contacts.
4. Since starting your business, if you could have done one thing differently, what would that be?
I'm not sure I would do anything different. I am learning incrementally what running a business involves. It’s a slow process but it's at a pace that works for me. My mistakes are where my greatest learning takes place and I wouldn't chose to change them.
5. What aspect of your business have you taken the most pride in since you started?
We have such a diversity of people coming to our classes. A real mixture of abilities, ages, cultures and backgrounds. However these differences seem to dissipate within the classes and a real cohesive and supportive environment prevails. I had one woman with mild disabilities in a class come to me at the end and say that never before had she been within a group and felt so accepted. I feel that whilst the workshop offers the freedom for creativity but it is also a place where people can reconnect with themselves.
6. Do you have any entertaining stories or experiences since starting your business, unexpected events, or interesting developments?
We had one little boy who obviously felt so relaxed sculpting that he fell fast asleep at the table!
7. Has the business recently secured significant orders, expanded its premises, taken on new staff, received funding, produced something unique, increased exports, etc?
We are in the process of adding new classes to our list. All too often we hear people saying that they would love to do art but are 'no good'. People forget that feeling as a toddler of picking up a crayon or Play-doh and just creating. As adults we put enormous pressure on ourselves to create a beautifully aesthetic end piece and forget about the joy of simply 'playing'. The absolute beginners clay classes aim to remind people to stay in the moment.
8. What do you love about running your business?
I love the diversity of people who come through our door. I love when people say they have been looking forward to art classes all week, and it is 2 hours where they can completely lose themselves. I love that I love what I do - I haven't had that sinking ‘Monday feeling’ since I became self employed.
9. What plans do you have for the future of your business?
At the moment we do some outreach work within the community, I would like to expand this. Our premises are small which limits numbers and certain client groups. Outreach work means we can get to people who cannot get to us.
If you have a business idea that you’d like to take further, then Elevator & Business Gateway can help. From a wide range of free workshops, through to supporting you every step of your journey, Elevator & Business Gateway can help make these dreams a reality.
Contact your local office now to find out more:
Perth: 01738 448310, RossW@ElevatorUK.com
Dundee: 01382 443400, Margaret@ElevatorUK.com
Aberdeen City & Shire: 01224 289700, Amanda@ElevatorUK.com
Back to all blogs