Hello. Welcome to Storytelling Sunday! Put up your feet, listen to the rain drumming on the windows, and sip your rosé wine (okay, that's what I'm doing while I type...). To join in, or to read many more tales, pop over to the master blog, with Sian From High In The Sky and read away!
Today I want to tell you the story of Creative Creatures, the business I co-run with my friend Rosie Bird. We tutor Creative Writing and Art workshops, mainly for children, but we're now in the process of winding the business down. We've been running the business part-time under this name for nearly four years, though we'd been doing the courses occasionally for about 6 years before that.
I'm feeling a little sad that our business is drawing to a close, as I've had so much fun working with someone as equally silly as me:
We have so many happy memories to look back on!
We began the courses together after meeting each other at University (we both studied Creative Writing and English Literature). Rosie had been helping her Dad run children's music and art workshops for years, and I had been helping my mum with children's art workshops. So when a friend of Rosie's (the lovely Beth Webb) offered to train us up, by us assisting her with her writing workshops, we jumped at the chance.
Soon after, we ran our very first workshop of our own, back in 2002, called 'Funtastic Fairies'. It was a weekend residential course, teaching gifted and talented children age 7-11 the art of writing. We sneakily covered up technical lessons with layers of fairy stories, taking part in a treaure hunts, glow-stick walks in the dark, and of course, making fairy wings (this is a recycling fairy I think. All the children design their own fairies and wings):
This course proved to be very popular (in fact, a bit too popular, we've run the course so many times we're a little weary of it by now!) and it meant we were able to book this and many more courses at Kilve Court in Somerset:
They were our original employers and have supported us really well over the years, letting us design new courses (including ones about fantastical creatures, smugglers, or basic bookmaking), and they've put up with lots of mess in their classrooms!
In 2008 we decided to try and make the courses a full time business, so Rosie (and her very nice then-boyfriend, now-husband) moved down to Dorset to be near me, and we found the local, brilliant, Leeson House to run more courses at (this is a glimpse of the house, I like that you can see a snippet of the lovely view too):
With lots of these weekend courses running throughout the year at Kilve and Leeson, we branched out into other events. We tried running workshops in schools, libraries, art galleries, and at street festivals:
We even tried joining in a couple of things where we didn't get paid, in the hope it would bring in future business. One of these was an art-installation type of event, where we were up on pedestals creating art from old books (more photos on a previous post here), our art was, of course, story based:
No matter where we were working, we were happy to be working together:
I'm so lucky to have been able to try this dream out with such a wonderful friend! Unfortunately, the business has never made enough money to make it viable for us to carry on, mainly because of the credit crunch and schools cutting back on spending. So Rosie had to go back to full time work, and what with me having two little kiddies to chase around after, we decided it was time to call it a day, at least for now.
In fact, the reason the reason I'm posting this so late tonight is because I've been away this weekend for my last weekend workshop. I have one more workshop to run, during a week in July, and then I'm done. Rosie will be running a few solo courses over the next year, but after that she's calling it quits too.
We've had such a fantastic time, not just because we've been working together, but also because we've been inspired over and over again by the amazing, imaginative work that children can create.
I'm going to miss Creative Creatures, but thankfully, Rosie lives just down the road from me. So though we won't be working together any more, we'll still be seeing each other lots! And, now that we won't be working so many weekends, perhaps we'll be able to sneak away for a fun weekend instead... here's hoping!
P.S. Did you see my Announcement Post about a blog event I'm having at the end of June?
Happy Sunday to you. x