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Business Success drawn from hobby


Jan 12, 2017

A talented artist has started a new caricatures business in Sunderland with support from the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC).

Helen Wardropper, 37, from Sunderland made the courageous decision to turn her hobby into a business.  After taking voluntary redundancy from Sunderland City Council last year, Helen turned to her favourite hobby of drawing caricature pictures for inspiration when considering her future.

Trading as Helen Wardropper Caricatures, Helen is available to hire for live coloured sittings at special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, school fairs to public events and exhibitions. Helen recently participated in the Pallion Christmas light switch on, where she got to meet and draw ex Sunderland Footballer Kevin Ball and also has an appearance on the Made in Tyne and Wear show Chatty Lasses booked in for March. Helen explains:

“I have always been a creative person, and I love to draw, so when considering my options career wise someone suggested that I should start my own business using these talents. So I thought why not give it a go! I approached the BIC with the idea of turning my hobby into a business, and once confident it could work, I registered the company and started to trade.

“I am lucky enough to have some good contacts so my work can take me from being surrounded by animals such as at the Christmas light switch on, to working with young children in schools. Caricatures is a fun way to boost confidence in children and it’s also an amusing keepsake. A highlight for me so far has been meeting and drawing Kevin Ball and I’m really looking forward to appearing on Chatty Lasses.”

Upon visiting the BIC, Helen was assigned business adviser Janice Marsh who worked with Helen until she was ready to launch the business. Helen continues:

“Janice guided me through the stages of setting up a new business. She gave me practical advice and we completed a business plan together.  It was vital to get an impartial point of view so I could forecast any problems. Since starting the business, I have continued to attend the BIC’s monthly social media café which is a vital resource to me to help promote my services.

“I’m so proud to be able to show my son that if you work hard and are passionate enough about something, then you can go out and get it. Sometimes you just have to give things a go.”

Business adviser at the BIC Janice Marsh commented:

“I see hundreds of people come to the BIC with a business idea but Helen’s was certainly a new one for me. It’s wonderful to see Helen doing something she loves as that can go a long way in running your own business.”

If you are considering self-employment and feel that  2017 could be the year you become your own boss, contact the start-up team at the North East BIC on 0191 516 6149.

By Emily