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A desire to inspire others to get creative led Heather Fox to set up The Fox Studios where she teaches a range of classes for beginners and the experienced.

Always a creative, Heather joined a jewellery evening class around 20 years ago at St Helens College, Merseyside, and has been making jewellery ever since. After completing her degree in Applied Arts: Jewellery and Metalwork - at Wrexham Glyndwr University, Heather returned to St Helens College to teach the evening class which she had initially attended. Some years later, she decided to expand the range of courses she could teach and in 2017 looked for suitable premises in Warrington, opening The Fox Studios over three-and-a-half years ago. Heather offers one-day classes, weekly classes, group bookings and a range of workshops including silver jewellery making, stone setting, metal etching, enamelling and ring making. Post-pandemic, Heather plans to hire out the premises to enable other makers to run workshops and bench space will be available to jewellers.

Change of business strategy

COVID-19 meant that Heather needed to change her offering as she could no longer welcome students to her studio. Seeking small business support and advice on optimising her business during the pandemic, Heather joined the Business Growth Programme (BGP) in June 2020.

Insight and a new approach

Heather received one-to-one support from the BGP’s Bryony and Emily which included COVID-19 continuity planning. Heather also attended workshops focusing on websites and search engine optimising (SEO) and the `Scale-up Bootcamp.’

“The support helped me with confidence-building,” commented Heather. “Being self-employed can be quite isolating sometimes, but having a sounding-board for new ideas was extremely valuable.”

Adapt and survive

With the help of the BGP, Heather created a colourful aluminium jewellery kit to enable people to get crafty at home and maintain their interest in the hobby during lock-down. The kits have proved very popular and Heather is about to launch a Zoom class as an add-on to the kit, offering makers more support. Heather has also researched other techniques to add variety to the kits and is designing an online sketchbook course for jewellers. One-to-one Zoom courses are also being prepared to boost students’ creativity. The post-pandemic world may bring changes to the way we live and spend our leisure time and Heather said: “I believe passionately that designing and creating makes us happier and healthier. Often, I hear people say they aren’t creative, but after spending time in the workshop, they surprise themselves.”

Expert advice

The Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Entrepreneurs, SMEs and pre-start businesses registered or trading in Cheshire and Warrington, meeting the eligibility criteria, can apply for support. Help is available from our team of Business Engagement Managers and access is also available to facilities at the University of Chester’s Thornton Science ParkRiverside Innovation Centre and the NoWFOOD Centre.

If you are a business seeking access to facilities and expert growth support, contact the

University of Chester’s Business Growth Team by emailing businessgrowth@chester.ac.uk.