Banks Mill Studios on Bridge Street in Derby is a hub for creative businesses and just before the first Lockdown in March 2020 welcomed mosaic artist Diane Daley. Diane runs China Petals which makes personal keepsakes out of fine bone china.
Launching a creative business is hard at the best of times, however Diane has adapted her business and has successfully diversified during her first year, to ensure her business is thriving in challenging times.
Diane comments: “I moved into Banks Mill at the start of March 2020 and had only been in my new studio a few weeks before the first lockdown began. This was a real blow as I was planning lots of great activities for the year, including new workshops and selling my work at events such as Patchings Art Festival and Haddon Hall. My business plan totally changed and I had to think of new ways to sell my work.”
A big part of her business is people and with the different restrictions in place she was unable to have visitors into her studio, or attend events to sell her work.
Diane adds: “I had to think of new ways of working, in fact the only part of my business that didn’t really change was the bespoke commissions, which could be done through email and video calls. I quickly realised that people were craving creative activities to keep them occupied and help with their mental health so I developed my mosaic kits.”
Until lockdown Diane hadn’t even contemplated making the kits, however she developed her idea and is now constantly thinking about different kits to add to the collection.
The introduction of the kits steered Diane to look at selling on Etsy which has enabled her to sell nationally, and not just locally which had been her initial goal.
Diane said: “During the first lockdown Banks Mill was forced to close and fortunately for me during this period they didn’t charge rent; as a new business I wasn’t eligible for any government support so this really helped with cashflow. I also used this time to work on my marketing and social media. Although Banks Mill was closed I was still able to access the support they provide as well as joining virtual meetings and peer support groups which has kept me going during these difficult times.”
During the summer Diane was able to tentatively start her workshops, albeit only with people in the same support bubble, however the introduction of tiers and further lockdowns just made this side of her business impossible. With no sign of restrictions being lifted enough to conduct workshops she decided to take the plunge and try online craft courses.
Diane notes: “All the materials for the session are posted out in advance and I recently had my first session which went really well so I’ll definitely plan more dates soon.”
Although moving into Banks Mill a month before lockdown wasn’t ideal for Diane it really did give her the support and drive to help her develop the business; “I think if I hadn’t been part of this creative community then I probably wouldn’t have created my kits or dreamt of conducting workshops online, in fact it was with the help of a fellow Banks Mill tenant that I decided to try the online workshops.
“All in all, as horrendous as COVID has been for what I had planned to do for my business, I have adapted and built some resilience and opened myself up to possibilities I hadn’t even entertained before.”
To find out more about China Petals visit www.chinapetals.co.uk/mosaic-kits or visit the gallery page to see some of the bespoke commissions Diane has created including pet portraits, commemoration and cherished pieces, all using fine bone china.
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