Free Writing for Wellbeing Workshop

As part of Voluntary Arts week, and to kick off events before our ArtiGras Festival on Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st, The Creative Collective is running a FREE Writing for Wellbeing workshop for all ages on Saturday 14th May.

The workshop will be facilitated by Francesca Baker.  Francesca is a journalist and event organiser and is passionate about writing and has previously delivered a succesful writing workshop at the Collective.  To find out more about Francesca visit her website HERE.

Come and join us for what promises to be an amazing workshop, from 10:30am to 12:30pm on 14th May at The Creative Collective.  Although the workshop is FREE we would appreciate if you could book HERE so that we can organise ourselves.

Thanks.  The Team

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New Workshops and masterclasses coming to the CCE

CCE Castle Buildings

CCE Castle Buildings

The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise has now moved to new premises and we aim to bring you workshops and courses that are second to none.

From September, a series of arts and crafts masterclasses aims to develop your creativity and teach new skills. Our tutors are all professional artists so you’ll learn from the best local talent.

From Saturday September 20th, a 4 week course in porcelain jewellery making will teach you all the techniques you need to make your own original pieces, designing and delivering patterns, glazing and decorating to finish the pieces. We will also be running photography, drawing, painting, mosaics, enameling, clay, ceramic and glass workshops so keep an eye on our calendar for more details. Continue reading

Hidden arty gem in the heart of town

The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise

The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise

In the centre of Ashford, Kent, there is a quaint gallery that houses amazing pieces of art by local artists.

Although it is a little hard to find – placed in the alley way between Mecca Bingo and the Spar -, it is one of two galleries in Ashford and houses over a hundred pieces of art, a number of sculptures, glass and wood carvings.  But it isn’t just a gallery.  The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise – a social enterprise – is also a craft shop which sells items such as dolls, handbags, jewellery, cushions and all sort of lovely crafts by either local makers or produced at the Centre.  It is a business hub and offers help to individuals who are planning to start their own business or are already operating a business.  On offer are workshops, courses and a room to let, advice, networking opportunities and a whole host of services to the community, be it business, creative or anyone needing a helping hand. Continue reading

PR professional helping handmade win in the high street

I met Emily through social media connections and I was so happy to know that there’s someone out there who’s passionate about creativity and is keen to use her skills to help local makers and artists promote their work. Emily will be delivering a series of workshops at the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise,  the first of which is entitled How to see your products in print. I’ll keep you posted on dates.  In the meantime, here’s what Emily had to say today:

“I’m Emily and I’m a freelance craft journalist and editor. I worked in the craft publishing industry for years and I’ve seen it grow from quite a niche hobby when I first started, to one of the fastest growing industries in the mainstream market. Now it seems everyone is interested in a little piece of craft! In my time I have written about so many different disciplines – name a craft and I’ve probably covered it at some point or another! Continue reading

No Business without a Plan

Business Planning at the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise

Business Plan

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So you really think you can run a business without a plan, well that’s what I thought.  But boy was I mistaken.

Running a business without a plan is like playing ball in heels, which maybe possible, but not without disastrous consequences. And there’s plenty of help available out there, no matter which industry you are starting in.

When I was starting up I know what I wanted to do but had no idea how to put a plan together, especially the financial forecasts.  How could you put a price on a service, especially if the organisation is not for profit. That’s when I had advice from Business Link, an extremely valuable service for self starters, and then the Enterprise Hub at the University of Kent.  I remember how encouraged I felt after speaking to the team.  They also helped me apply for funding, which I did get as well as the opportunity to pitch my idea in front of judges – and I won the second prize of £2000 for Joining Hands, and that was an amazing feeling. Five years later, here I am, I do understand what Social Return on Investment is (SRI) and how important it is to be able to measure it, even if not without difficulty. So now that I know a little about business planning, I would like to help you in much the same way I was helped.

I am running a Business Planning for Beginners workshop on Thursday this week, so the 30th January from 1pm to 5pm.  A business plan is a framework of your activities which is flexible and responsive to opportunities. The aims of the afternoon are: to come up with some long term and short term objectives, to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in case you wonder what that means) analysis but not before we work together to set your mission, your purpose and goals.

Too many small businesses think that strategic planning is for big business but businesses that survive and prosper are those who meet their customers’ needs and you cannot meet customers’ needs if you haven’t thought about who you are selling to, what are your prices based on, who is your competition and what is your USP (unique selling point). Of course, you also need a marketing strategy, financial forecasts and I will suggest a few places where you can get that help.  There is plenty of advice available from Enterprise hubs, your business bank, mentors, Chambers of Commerce and business academies around the County.  You could also test your product at pop up shops if there are any in your area.  We are fortunate enough to have Pop Up Ashford which has helped a number of business start-ups since it started last year.  So it may be useful to book a space if you are unsure about starting up or would like to test your product. There is also a vast selection of free Business Plan templates available online.  You just need to see which tickles your fancy and is more suited to your business needs and your industry.

So the 30th January from 1pm to 5pm at the Community Crafts Centre.  There is tea/coffee of course and plenty of biscuits.

See you then

Supporting Local Business

It’s that time of the year when we are all rushing around, trying to get all the gifts for family and friends.  Never has it been a better time to support local traders and makers.  Ashford is now a hub of creativity and, with the presence of Pop Up Ashford, the Stour Valley Arts pop up Gallery at Park Mall and the monthly happenings of Emporia Craft Fairs which see a number of local makers gather up in empty shops in Park Mall, and the opening of the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise of course, there was no shortage of choices. But it doesn’t end there …

We’ll all be back from January, doing what we do best, making. So if you would like a piece of art, a handmade with love item to give, a voucher for a creative workshop or course as a gift, then there are plenty of reasons to be, and shop, in Ashford.  A simple parking fee should not even be an issue.  Of course there are also networking events, business and creative workshops coming to you courtesy of Emporia Fabric and Crafts and, again, the Centre for Creativity and enterprise.  Our very own Emma Jane Faulkner will be hosting crochet workshops, Jennifer Hedley and Ascension Lorente Huguet will be delivering creative workshops, and Keighley Jane will be doing more of her sewing workshops and producing amazing cushions and other sewn goodies.  And there’ll be lots more other interesting things to look forward to in our town centre.

Meanwhile, let me wish you all a merry Christmas and a New Year filled with healthy choices, joyful laughter and abundant opportunities.

Betsy