Laura Woodward-Drake: Creativity flourishes during lockdown as three amazing women start up new ventures with arts and crafts

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 October 2020

Lesley Martin, who has turned her passion for painting into a project where people can get their own bespoke pictures of things that they love. Picture: Laura Woodward-Drake

Lesley Martin, who has turned her passion for painting into a project where people can get their own bespoke pictures of things that they love. Picture: Laura Woodward-Drake

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In her latest column, Exmouth Chamber of Commerce chairman Laura Woodward-Drake has shone the spotlight on three women who are bringing creativity and culture to Exmouth

Dani Masters, who launched Don’t Feed The Creatures. Picture: Laura Woodward-DrakeDani Masters, who launched Don’t Feed The Creatures. Picture: Laura Woodward-Drake

The word ‘pivot’ has quickly become one of the most used terms this year, second to ‘you are on mute’. With the current situation affecting many businesses, people were forced to adapt.

The arts community have been hit hard and are still in need of support, in order to save an amazing industry that hasn’t had much opportunity to adapt under the restrictions. However, I was thrilled to see that creativity is still going, after I recently met 3 brilliant women from Exmouth, who found inspiration in being creative.

Stevie and Chris Hill, owners of the award winning dog care in the centre of town, Just Purrfect, faced a tough start to 2020 due to the need for their services reducing as a consequence of people working from home. After welcoming two new members to the family (one with four paws, one with two little feet), Stevie found that her time was mostly spent looking after the new additions, while Chris maintained what was left of the business. But in this ‘down time’ Stevie fell in love with experimenting with wax melts and different scents, and after receiving praise for her creations, she decided to set up Seashore Crafts

What started as something for her to zone out with, has now become a treat that many wish to indulge in. Stevie commented “I love the response I have had! I’m now working on custom candles for stocking fillers, so that families who can’t be together this Christmas can join their loved ones by burning the same candle on Christmas day - it’s what I plan to do with my family!”

New chamber of commerce chair. Picture: Laura Woodward-DrakeNew chamber of commerce chair. Picture: Laura Woodward-Drake

I met with another amazing woman who has turned her passion for painting into a project where people can get their own bespoke pictures of things that they love.

Lesley Martin, who was a teacher at the international language school in town, found herself facing difficult times with no work and a new responsibility to care for an ill family member.

She commented: “I used painting as an escape - we live in a beautiful area and painting our landscapes or pictures of our homes - the havens which have kept us safe during lockdown - has been really fulfilling and I’m so blessed by the response for my work”

Lesley has been busy painting over 200 pieces of art during lockdown and has just launched her online page, House Martin, to display her work to the community.

The final inspirational lady I met with recently, has taken her ‘lockdown past time’ and turned it into a venture that sends clay creations internationally! Dani Masters used her impressive background in retail to launch Don’t Feed The Creatures after her crafting received requests for custom models and her art won online competitions within weeks of posting.

Dani commented: “At first I was just doing it because I like being creative. When lockdown hit, I saw a DIY clay pack in The Range and thought I’d give it a go to keep me busy and do something interesting. After receiving praise for my work I realised that it was not only something I loved doing but also something I was good at! Thanks to the amazing online community of locat art forums, I found a new network of people to engage with for support and have loved being able to support them too.”

Exmouth is a fantastic hub for art, with many talented people working together to bring culture and creativity into the town. It’s great to hear that lockdown has ignited people to discover their talent, which they have developed into successful startups.

If you have an idea that you would love to launch into a business, but are not sure where to start, the Exmouth Chamber of Commerce has a fantastic range of support tools, so I welcome anyone who needs a boost, to get in touch.


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