Introducing Dorothy's Vintage

[gallery type="slideshow" ids="4480,4481,4482"] I love to highlight business stories from home-based businesses.

So it was great to hear from Emma Morley, who has just launched a business with her mother Jayne. They’re both fans of vintage (or shabby chic) china and having amassed a fine collection, decided to turn their interest into a business.

Inspired by Jayne's own vintage wedding in 2013, Dorothy’s Vintage specialises in the hire of ‘beautiful vintage china as well as providing afternoon tea services for all type of events’. Mum and daughter can't wait to share their ‘wonderful collection with the world!'

What’s different is that these two vintage fans invite potential customers to their 60s garden summerhouse, named Sheila, to get a feel for the service. Here they experience the afternoon tea while discussing what they want for their event and their budget. Customers go away knowing Dorothy's Vintage have built them ‘a truly bespoke service' for their special event.

While Emma takes care of the social media and marketing, her mum cannot help but find amazing china to add to the collection!

To find out more about Dorothy’s Vintage, named after Emma’s grandmother, take a look at the website or follow @dorothysvintage.  Contact on

Introducing Naini

Freelance Artist. Established 2009

 Starting Up

Naini’s motivation is simply to have ‘personal freedom through being creative and independent.’ Naini wanted to challenge herself and see where the road leads.

However, the biggest challenge has been over coming self-doubt. Its taken time but Naini has learnt to listen to her heart and follow her instincts, which somehow always lead her in the right direction.

Marketing art

Naini has learnt to market by trial and error and her best advice is to use more than one avenue rather than sticking to one limiting strategy. “In my view there is no such thing as 'best advertising' since the dynamics between product/service and the target market are constantly changing - especially in the art market. Change is the key; what works another may or may not work for you, and vice versa.”

The comfort of the first customer

“The first customer came literally through a gallery” which goes to prove how important it is to exhibit your work where people can see it. Naini is in galleries but you could also try coffee shops, offices, train stations – anywhere that people pass is always a good thing, remembering to clearly display your name and contact details should a passerby wish to buy.


Life itself is an inspiration. Everything that we experience, see and feel without exception is nothing less than a miracle - a marvel of nature and mankind.” These are lovely words from Naini in describing what motivates her.


Naini has her studio at home and prefers to work from there, “I would say working at home in very quiet surroundings would be an ideal working environment. It's what allows the creativity to flow in full.”

Finally, I asked Naini, if you could look back and give one piece of advice to yourself before you launched, what is it?

“Listen more to my inner instincts. It's the one voice that can guide you in the right direction. The more you use it the better it gets. It requires fine tuning through trial and error before you can trust it completely”.

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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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