Former journalist puts pen to paper with start-up
A former journalist is putting pen to paper on a new writing career.
Angela Reed, 32, from South Shields, has launched Creative Calligraphy, offering a bespoke handwriting service for wedding stationery and other special occasions.
The mum-of-two was encouraged to set up the business after speaking to an adviser from the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), based in Wearfield, Sunderland.
She had previously worked as a reporter for North East Press - at The Shields Gazette, Sunderland Echo and News Post Leader/News Guardian - but took voluntary redundancy earlier this year after almost 13 years with the company.
Angela said: “One of the last press releases I received as a journalist was about a self-employment event being held by the National Careers Service at Sunderland College.
“I went along with the intention of finding out about freelancing as a journalist, but at the back of my mind was an idea I had some years ago about doing something with my calligraphy skills.
“A representative from the BIC told me about the New Enterprise Allowance, a Government scheme that provides money and support to help you start your own business, and I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss.”
Angela, who is married to Michael, 33, a solicitor, and mum to James, four, and Sophie, two, accessed the scheme via Jobcentre Plus in Chapter Row, South Shields, and worked with a mentor on her business plan, which had to be approved before she could start trading.
She said: “David Ireland and George Wafer, my mentors from The Tyne and Tweed Project, were really helpful, and the Ready for Business seminars I attended at Tedco in South Shields, as part of the NEA scheme, were very informative.
“It has been a steep learning curve, but I’m thrilled with the way things have worked out and I’m delighted that I can now say I run my own business. It’s very exciting and I’ve had a number of orders already, each one of them different.
“I’ve done place cards for a wedding, a table plan for a charity dinner, certificates for staff at South Tyneside Council and scrolls for Year 6 leavers at Ridgeway Primary Academy in South Shields. I’ve even inscribed a teapot!
“I think calligraphy adds a lovely finishing touch to stationery for special occasions. We’re used to communicating via e-mail and text, but there’s nothing like receiving something that has been hand-written. It’s much more personal.”
Angela, who is originally from Sunderland, was introduced to calligraphy by her art teacher at Hylton Red House Comprehensive School, now Red House Academy, which is where she also developed an interest in business studies.
She studied A-level business studies, media studies and English literature at Sunderland College, before completing an NCTJ pre-entry course in newspaper journalism at Darlington College.
Over the years, her calligraphy skills have been called upon by friends and family and she even wrote the invitations and table place cards for her own wedding in 2007.
“To my knowledge, although I’m not the only calligrapher in the region, I am the only one actively offering a calligraphy service,” she said.
“The response has been really positive so far, from the wedding fairs I’ve exhibited at and through social media, so I’m hoping this could be the start of a whole new career for me.”
BIC business adviser, Debbie Simpson, said: “It is wonderful to hear Creative Calligraphy is in full swing and in demand. Angela has attended the BIC’s Enterprise Club, a free networking session, and it is always inspiring to see people take the route of self-employment.
“Congratulations Angela and I look forward to sharing your story at our next Enterprise Club. If anyone else is thinking about becoming their own boss, please call the team here on 0191 516 6149.”