Introducing Allison Franks

Designer/maker of bespoke fused glass and tutor. Established 2009

The Boss from Hell

“The last parting words from my boss were “you can now go and find a job which you’re actually qualified for.”

At 40, as it turned out, these words spurred Allison on from being in a bad place where she was bullied at work to starting in business.

Allison says “I had two options, believe that I was completely useless or I could look at the positives I had to offer. I decided to look at my qualities, I love working with people, I am creative and missed the time I had spent in higher education getting my BA Hons. So I combined those qualities together and decided to set up an arts business, designing and making bespoke kiln cast and fused glass while also delivering creative workshops within my local community and schools”.

At this time, Allison was asked back to a previous position. “It was on a part time/temporary basis which was perfect and it gave me a boost personally.  I was working with colleagues who knew me and knew what I had been through, I also had an income!”

Working part time, Allison started to develop her business plan with help from a local support agency SWEDA which helped when asking the bank for a business start-up loan.

Allison continues “within weeks I had my first workshop booking and I will be celebrating three years in business this May”.

So just how did Allison find her very first customer?

“My first workshop booking was for West Bromwich Learning Co-OP, through my links in the community I had a connection who worked in Adult Learning”. Allison called her contact was surprised to be asked in for a meeting which lead to her being asked to deliver some creative workshops during the School Summer Holidays. “It was fate and pure luck that everything fell into place and that’s where it all started”.

Allison’s previous career helps in her growing business too: “I have worked and volunteered within my local community for more than 16 years. This has given me experience of working with people from different back grounds and of abilities which is part of my work which I love.” Clearly Allison has also developed great links within the community.

Allison returned to higher education as a mature student in 2000 and graduated from Wolverhampton University with a 2:1 BA Hons degree specialising in Glass in 2003. “Upon graduation I was awarded a Studio Bursary which included studio space, use of the universities facilities to develop my making skills and an NVQ in Business start-up in the creative industries”.

One of the hardest habits to deal with when self employed is when to focus on work and when to switch off and refresh. Allison agrees, “I have tried working to regular hours but find it impossible; I’m either really busy or quiet depending on the school holidays and seasons. During the summer I seem to have more bookings than the winter, so I have to be flexible in my working.

Allison has some advice those wishing leave the corporate world. “Anyone who is thinking of becoming self-employed, should go into it expecting to put in lots of hours, you have to be able to adapt to situations and job roles. If you work as a sole-trader you are reliant on yourself for everything from administration to book-keeping. It is a massive learning curve and you have to learn to do a little bit of everything, but it’s also very rewarding, you learn something new every day!

If you could look back, Allison and give one piece of advice to yourself before you launched, what is it?  Believe in yourself!!!!  I am my own worst enemy when it comes to doubting myself.  I should also trust more in my instincts, they are normally right.  I recently made contact with a supplier in the US who was interested in what I do and my design work,  he told me “You hold your own destiny” now when I start to doubt myself  I just remember what he said.

I think you’ll agree, Allison has a very inspiring story. To find out more about Allison’s work click here or on Etsy or contact on


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Hardluck Hotel

It's so good to have Hardluck Hotel, AKA the talented Mr Keith Bloomfield back for the second Vintage Festival. Keith took some amazing photos that have been used many times to give a real flavour of the event.

Meeni at BVF June 2011

Keith will be back at BVF to take more fantastic photos as well as exhibiting and selling some of his work. For more details see the website or visit the stall.

Art Angel Marie Nemeth

We're pleased to introduce Marie Nemeth to this months Birmingham Vintage Festival. Originally from Lancashire, Marie studied  Fine Art at Birmingham Polytechnic creating large semi-abstract paintings and collages influenced by bands and she states, musical instruments and the rock ‘n’ roll scene of Birmingham. Having worked as a graphic designer since, Marie has now returned to her roots and will be showing her work at Birmingham Vintage Festival on Septemebr 24th.

Chitty’s Cake Company

We're pleased that Chitty's Cake Company have stepped in so Birmingham Vintage Festival will have cupcakes! As well as cupcakes, Rebecca Chitty makes fantastic celebration cakes whilst also finding time to be part of Brindley Place Local Produce Market.



See Chittys Cake Company at Birmingham Vintage Festival or for more information see the website

White Studios

We're thrilled White Tree Studios and Gallery are returning to Birmingham Vintage Festival this month.

Established since 2008, the art directors are Jennifer Gollings and Belinda Maria Longsden who have ten years experience between them.

Artists themselves, they are the leading organisation in Wolverhampton for gallery hire. White tree has six artists studios and currently have five artists in residence. For more information see the website or see them at Birmingham Vintage Festival on September 24th.


We are so pleased to have one of our most popular traders, Meeni back for the September 24th. Madeline is a multidisciplinary artist working with visual artwork, craft, music, soundworks and sometimes dance.

Using  a variety of materials and working in different media, Madeline likes to use thrifted and vintage materials and reuses and recycles whenever possible.

In addition, Madeline makes jewellery incorporating her own handmade glass beads. Ask Madeline to show you what takes your interest at the next Birmingham Vintage Festival or have a look at her website

Grandma Chic

Apart from the fantastic name, Grandma Chic, this business is eco friendly!

A fashion and textiles graduate from Winchester School of Art, Sam Budgen set up Grandma Chic after interning with ethical fashion label From Somewhere. Inspiration is taken from vintage fashions, particularly 1930s and 40s and from the music and culture from that era.

Of course there is a nod to on  stylish Grandma! For more information see the website or come and visit the stall at Birmingham Vintage Festival on September 24th.

Dress Your Soul

Vintage with a twist.....

Another wonderful newcomer to the join the Birmingham Vintage Festival family, Dress Your Soul mix vintage with contemporary and old with new to create your own style, as they say 'from the soul'.

For more info, see their website or come and visit their stall at Birmingham Vintage Festival on 24th September

Ears and Whiskers

Today we welcome another new trader to Birmingham Vintage Festival

They offer hand made clothing & jewellery as well as up-cycled and vintage clothing pieces.  The best news is each item is a complete one off so never catch someone else with the same piece!
For more details on Ears & Whiskers click here Or see them at the Birmingham Vintage Festival on Sept 24th 2011

BirdieGingham:Accessories for you and your home



We are delighted to welcome the gorgeous Birdie Gingham to Birmingham Vintage Festival this month.

BirdieGingham is home to handmade fabric creations. They blend the quirky and the quintessential with a dash of shabby chic and a lot of style for their  home furnishings and accessories.
Using iconic patterns such as polka dots, gingham and florals as well as vintage-inspired fabrics and upcycled materials, every item is hand made with a helping of Birdie love.
For more information about Birdie Gingham click here Or follow on Twitter

Urban Coffee Co - finest in the city

Urban Coffee Co, Birmingham's premier indie coffee house has supported Birmingham Vintage Festival when it was a mere sparkle in the eye.

Of course no event will be complete without them and they are back keeping traders and visitors warm and refreshed with the finest coffee available in the city.

No day is complete without Urban Coffee Co. More infomation here

Creative Open Workshops at BVF

Birmingham Vintage Festival is delighted to welcome back CoW for this month's event. Last month, CoW enticed people into making fantastic flower broaches.

In addition, they teach enthusiastic crafters to make a huge variety of products from their quirky studio in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter:

  • Clasp purse
  • Tote bag
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Batik
  • Jewellery & beading
  • Cushion cover
  • Coasters
  • and the new Close-Knit knitting club!

More on CoW workshops here

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