Please tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Karen Redmayne and I've been creating since an early age. I've always loved drawing and can remember when I was about 8 or 9 years old drawing my favourite characters such as Snugglebums and My Little Ponys!
I graduated from Bretton Hall College in 1998 but couldn't get a job. So I decided to start my own business instead, with the support of the Prince's Trust.
Describe your work setting.
I work in a small unit/studio which is situated within Higherford Mill, which has been converted into a centre for the creative industries. It is a fantastic studio location as it benefits from a northern light roof so I work in natural light. I have a small work area, a display area where I sell to visitors and an area were I run workshops. I have three small kilns, several workbenches and lots and lots of glass.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
As I make a wide range of products, my work is never boring. I also get asked to do a lot of commissions which helps to make my job more challenging and rewarding. I always seem to come up with new ideas, some of which work and some don't, so work is never dull. Luckily I always seem to have orders.
I find my job really rewarding creating unique pieces of glass which give others pleasure and may one day be the collectables of the future. A bonus is that I make money from it too! My husband says it's not really work as I'm getting paid to do something I enjoy!
I do a couple of trade shows a year, and I also sell directly at craft fairs and events. I also have a website (www.redcurrantglass.co.uk) where I have an on-line shop.
What are your long term goals?
Long term I'd like my own gallery or shop because, at the moment, I sell all over the country in various shops and galleries and pay out quite a lot in commission for the privilege. Having my own gallery where I could sell my work and other locally handmade products would be great.
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Starting your own creative business is probably one of the most challenging areas of business to work in. You are competing with mass-produced imported items which people can sell very cheaply. Raw material costs in the UK are high.You have to be determined, know your product, and you also have to be your own marketer, book-keeper and time-keeper. At the end of the day, people will always pay for quality and handmade; I also like to think that people prefer to support local makers. I try to source local materials and always support other local businesses where possible.
For more information, visit Karen's website at www.redcurrantglass.co.uk or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Karen has a few places left in some of her glass-making courses which start at the end of September. The courses still available are: fused glass tile-making, fused glass jewellery, lampwork bead-making, and silver clay jewellery. All courses are suitable for beginners.