Derbyshire based writer, Emma Pass and her printmaker husband, Duncan, began their creative wellbeing business in April 2019. They recently talked to us about their start-up journey and how NBV’s workshops and mentoring have helped their business grow.

Can you tell us a little bit about your business?

We are based in Chesterfield and run creative workshops for wellbeing. We offer a unique combination of creative writing and printmaking in these workshops, with a strong focus on wellbeing. We can create bespoke workshops for almost any group, including vulnerable children and adults and people with disabilities. We are particularly interested in focussing on wellbeing as we know from our own experiences how beneficial taking part in creative activities can be, and we are keen to make what we do accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of situation, ability or background.


When and why did you start your own business?

Emma: We have both been practising artists for over 20 years. I had run writing workshops on my own for a number of years and after running a few workshops with Duncan during a residency with Inspire Nottinghamshire Libraries in summer 2018 (for which we were finalists in the 2019 Inspire Awards) we realised that we could offer a unique and bespoke range of workshops for almost everyone, regardless of their age, ability or background. We officially launched Write Print Create in April 2019 after beginning business coaching with NBV advisor Filomena Rodriguez.


How did you find out about NBV’s support?

We found out about NBV via Ann Wright at Derbyshire County Council (Arts team). She recommended Filomena to us after we approached her with a query about business coaching. We looked at the NBV and Big House websites and thought that it sounded as if they offered exactly what we were after, so decided to give it a go.

So far, we have had 12 hours of business coaching with Filomena, Emma has attended a Lifestyle Planning course at New Art Exchange and we will be taking part in the Big House EXPO in September as Write Print Create.


How has the business adviser/mentoring support helped you?

Filomena has been incredible. Thanks to her knowledge and guidance we have been able to identify exactly what we do and how best to “sell” it to people and organisations. She has also given us greater confidence in what we do and how we do it. We cannot thank her enough! Additionally, on the Lifestyle Planning day Emma attended, the trainer pointed out that video can increase website engagement by up to 80% so we recently commissioned a short promotional film for our website, made by Nottingham-based filmmaker Will J Carman. We’re really pleased with it as it captures what we’re about perfectly and makes it much easier to talk to people about what we do.


What challenges did you overcome?

Our challenges have been identifying our markets, being able to pitch our business to others in a clear and concise way, and how to pitch what we do to groups and people in different sectors.

We are now much more confident about what we do and how we do it, and have been able to vastly expand our skills and experience this year, facilitating workshops for adults with learning disabilities and adults with dementia, a project in a school, a project with our local NHS trust and a project with young offenders in Sheffield.


What does the future hold for Write Print Create?

We want to increase our experience by working with different organisations and groups, including workshops for corporate groups, and also broaden the range of workshops we offer (different printmaking techniques etc.). We would also, eventually, like to offer 1-2-1 teaching in creative writing and printmaking, perhaps from our own studio.

Our plans are to expand our business, increasing our experience and skills as workshop facilitators by continuing to work with as diverse a range of people, groups and organisations as possible. We would also like to apply for residencies and longer-running projects (and are already looking at ways to do this).


What have been the highs and lows of running your own business?

The highs are knowing that what we do enhances both our lives and other people’s lives, the variety of the work and the flexibility working for ourselves affords us. The lows – money, of course! You don’t always know where your next job is coming from (although so far, something has always turned up!) and sometimes, it can be hard to get a good life/work balance as you don’t want to say no to anything. We’re getting better at this, though!


If you’d like to follow in Emma and Duncan’s footsteps, contact NBV today to see how we can help your business grow: register or call us on 0844 887 2568*

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