An emotional connection to the North East and one of its iconic landmarks has helped a talented designer build her Durham based business sending geographical souvenir gifts all over the world. 

Corinne Lewis-Ward came to Newcastle in 1998 from her native Wimbledon to study at university. Now more than 20 years later she calls the North East her home and has a design studio in the prestigious Ushaw House in Durham.

Despite being diagnosed with dyslexia in the last year of her degree and other medical conditions hampering her progress she now runs two successful businesses each harnessing her passion for the region and her talent for design.

Celebrating 10 years since its formation, Powder Butterfly provides unique handcrafted gifts based on locations such as Newcastle, Durham, London, and York while Gifted Studios supplies corporate gifts for events and awards. Her work is available to buy online and in tourist outlets all over the UK and beyond with her latest work being sold in an English themed store in Los Angeles.

Corinne’s work includes many North East images including St Mary’s Lighthouse, The Baltic, and the Tyne Bridge but it’s the Angel of The North which takes pride of place in her work and in her heart.

“I love this landmark which is the most viewed public artwork in the world, with around 33 million people seeing it each year thanks to its proximity to the A1. To me, it’s a symbol of coming to the North East all those years ago as I arrived in the same week that the Angel was installed,” she said.

“I live in Gateshead and travel to Durham frequently and as I pass the Angel it reinforces the love I feel for the North East. I feel part of the fabric of the area and my work is all about connecting people to the places they love. I have a very emotional business which helps make a lot of people happy due to their memories of the area.”

Corinne’s love of the area inspired her first collection based on the landmarks of Newcastle and Gateshead. She only uses high-quality British manufacturers such as pottery specialists in Stoke for her fine bone china products and pin badges and keyrings made in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

“I only use suppliers that either has an appropriate heritage or the level of quality I would expect. I find it sad to go into a souvenir shop and see an iconic British item that is made abroad. If we’re making British souvenirs that people buy and keep with pride and joy, we should have some link to our manufacturers and be using them to showcase the skills we have here in the UK.”

Corinne’s work ethic stems from the positive influence of her hard-working mother who worked in the NHS as an occupational therapist for 35 years.  Watching her and her extended family succeed in life has impacted her love of creativity and entrepreneurship, but she has also had to draw on her own internal strengths to combat her own health difficulties. Having lived with dyslexia for more than 20 years, she has now had to face up to a recent diabetes diagnosis too.

“I was diagnosed in March 2020 when we were all going into lockdown, and I’ve been on a kind of Wellness journey ever since then. The doctor had said to me that it was unlikely I’d be able to reverse it through lifestyle changes alone but I’m happy to say that over the last 20 months my blood sugar has been coming down steadily and I’ve been working with a nutritional therapist and things are getting more manageable.

“I learnt from my dyslexia that if you focus on the positives, you can overcome a lot of difficulties and I’ve used that mantra with my diabetes. My mother also has an auto-immune condition, and she inspires me to be resilient in everyday life and my business.

“She’s my angel and together with my other Angel (of the North), I’ll continue to spread joy to thousands of people all over the world with my unique gifts and souvenirs.”