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Following her redundancy from the public sector, Nottinghamshire based keen recycler Jackie Ward took the decision to change career and set up her business in the creative sector. As new opportunities presented themselves and Jackie’s business grew, she turned to The Big House and NBV’s business mentoring support to help her take stock of the direction her business was going. Jackie tells us more about her start-up journey.


Tell us more about your business TreeHuggery

I’m based in Brinsley, Nottinghamshire, in the middle of DH Lawrence country but only 5 minutes away from J27 of the M1. I deliver corporate workshops and talks and create corporate art; all with a sustainable theme.

I also work with clients to create environmentally friendly sustainable art. The art is designed to be truly personal; it can include their promotional resources and ephemera that are relevant to the organisation’s image.


How did your past career and qualifications help you in your new business?

My past background is very different to the work I do now. Prior to redundancy I was a Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator (yes that job title really exists)! While the two jobs couldn’t be any more different, there are actually a lot of transferrable skills which includes training professionals, liaising with the media, creating engaging resources and finding innovative ways to work collaboratively with partner organisations. One of the talks I offer is called, “From Pills, to frills, to transferable skills”

I have a BSc (Hons) in Social Sciences with Psychology, a Training the Trainers Qualification and a PG Cert in Public Sector Management.


How did you find out about the support offered by The Big House & NBV?

I found out about the EU funded mentoring through a fellow artist, it was perfect timing as I’d just completed an Artist in Residency which had been one of my biggest projects to date, and I wanted to build on what I’d achieved.

I accessed 12 hours of business mentoring funded by the EU and D2N2, without the funding I realistically couldn’t have afforded it.


How has the business advisor/mentoring support helped you?

The business mentoring support has helped immensely; it started off by simply highlighting which elements of my business were most successful, and how I could better promote them. The mentoring has given me the opportunity to consider how I can make my offer clearer, and has helped me realise potential avenues to explore that are a good fit with my core ethical values.

The mentoring was very much tailored to my practice. My mentor, Filomena Rodriguez, is an artist herself, and this was massively helpful because although the support was business focused, there was also an equal emphasis on personal fulfilment as an artist.

My offer as a business is a unique one and has the potential to sound slightly complicated; I’ve always struggled with how to put it over succinctly but I’ve become much more confident with this. You know you’ve got it right when the people who attend your workshop quote back some of the course literature, and tell you that’s the reason they booked it.


What are your plans for the future?

I have plans to open a small gallery space; as well as featuring my work, I’ll be showcasing other artists who work with found materials.


What have the highs and lows been of running your business and do you have any tips or advice for others?

The lows are that I work much longer hours than I’ve ever done, I don’t think there are many moments where, if I’m not physically working on something, I’m not thinking about my business. But the highs – they’re great; I know that things have come about because I’m behind them. This year I won first place in Eco Create, a competition purely for upcycling artists. I was an Artist in Residence in Ilkeston (my home town) and I was a finalist in Broxtowe Small Business of the year. I’ve been a judge for an upcycling art competition, and in October this year I was featured in “Reloved” a monthly magazine for upcycling artists.

My advice for others would be to play to your strengths and really focus on the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your business.


If you wish to follow in the footsteps of Jackie, contact NBV today to see how we can help your business grow: 0844 887 2568*

*Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge