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Over the last few months, My Town Online has got off to a great start, so we thought, what better way to celebrate than to get to know some of the founding members! These local businesses have been showcasing their expert services on My Town Online and we want our readers to learn a bit more about the people behind them.


Today we’ll be talking to Joanna from Escape2Art, Anna from Drain Doctor and Mark from Covertree.


Escape2Art

Eascape2

Hi Joanna, tell us a bit about you and your business.

My name is Joanna Spragg and I run Escape2Art. When not under Coronavirus restrictions, I provide art classes, events and parties for adults and children.  At the moment, I am unable to run classes because of Covid, so I am a fulltime artist! I have tried most artistic mediums, but my favourite is acrylic paint.  I concentrate on landscape and abstract art and I also have some large commissions underway now that I’m not teaching!


Describe a typical day in your business

Currently I am working on some large-scale commissions which I took on before lockdown. When I have a deadline looming, I can spend 4-5 hours a day painting. However, I usually break it down into teaching and lesson planning for 2-3 hours, then 2 hours of painting and at least an hour a day doing admin (ordering materials, social media, website maintenance etc.)  When not Covid restricted, I spend at least 2 hours a day preparing for my lessons and I enjoy researching future topics and art mediums that I think could interest clients. 

My best days are spent teaching in the morning (and drinking great coffee), and painting in the afternoon without too much admin in the middle.


Describe the ideal day in your business

An ideal day at work would be a blend of all aspects including the admin, which I try not to ignore!  Ideally, I would have a morning teaching my wonderful clients, I’d spend a few hours at my studio working on paintings that I sell through my website and then I’d have a brief session updating social media and stock checking for the next day.


Describe the ideal customer you like to help

The most rewarding customer is someone who has summoned their courage to come and paint or draw at a class when they haven’t done anything arty for years. I have clients who want to try art again but who are really lacking in confidence and scared of looking silly if they don’t do well. To see students (young and old) bonding around the table over shared techniques and funny stories or lively chat is incredibly rewarding and to have people come back each week and become firm friends is really wonderful.


What unique skills have you developed to run your business?

I have an ability to multitask and am disciplined with my time. I am also adaptable so enjoy flexing between working alone when painting in the studio, and leading groups when running the art classes. I always say, ‘I’m Mum first and foremost and business owner second’. My children are still young, so I have to be patient and organised to fit it all in.


Why did you choose your industry/sector or niche?

Art was a hobby until I got made redundant from a corporate HR job after having my 3rd child. I was determined to do something I really enjoyed and something that could be flexible as a mum of 3. Working for myself in an area that I am passionate about was the answer!


What one piece of advice do you wish you had been given before starting your business?

Get on with it! I talked about the concept of Escape2Art for a long time before actually taking the plunge.


What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

Do your research and talk to anyone who might have valid input - really listen to what they say, don’t just hear what you want to hear.


What is your ultimate goal for your business?

Short-term I’d love to find a venue and open a dedicated studio, employing people to run classes so that I can continue to paint and run the business. Long-term I’d like to run art retreats in beautiful locations and combine it with yoga/ cookery/ creative writing etc.


What's the most exciting thing you have planned?  

Opening a dedicated studio and other branches of Escape2Art one day.


 What do you enjoy doing when not running your business? 

Travelling with my family, seeing friends and dog walking in the beautiful countryside.


Tell us some of your life goals?

To run a successful business without compromising family life and my role as mum/ wife.  To become a sought-after artist who people like and respect.


Tell us something surprising about yourself or your business.  

I found coming up with a name for my business almost impossible ??" it takes ages and mustn’t be rushed!


Thanks for speaking with us Joanna, it was great getting to know a bit more about Escape2Art! Head to the Escape2Art website if you would like to learn more or explore their local business page on My Town Online.


Drain Doctor

Drain

 Hi Anna, tell us a bit about you and your business.  

My name is Anna Webb and with my partner Paul Cornthwaite, we own and run Drain Doctor. We provide emergency cover as well as planned repairs and maintenance for drainage and plumbing. We also support commercial customers; from restaurants and care homes to shopping centres and theatres.


Describe a typical day in your business

No two days are ever the same which is part of the attraction but it always ends with knowing we have helped people, often in a state of distress.


Describe the ideal day in your business

Very difficult to answer that one, but again it goes back to getting the job done perfectly, first time for all our valued customers.


Describe the ideal customer you like to help

Anyone who has a drain! Seriously though, we would like to engage with more block management and facilities management companies as we understand that speed of response and clear communication is key to a great working relationship.


What unique skills have you developed to run your business?

We’re a good team! Paul has experience of drainage across the board from domestic through to highways, so little fazes him. Whilst my experience is more systems, sales and marketing. We also have a technician with plumbing and groundworks knowledge.


Why did you choose your industry/sector or niche?

Paul has over 20-years-experience in drainage. We’ve seen it done incorrectly so often, “all the gear, no idea” as he puts it.  We wanted to improve the image of the drainage industry by doing it right.


What one piece of advice do you wish you had been given before starting your business?

Be more courageous and focus on what you’ve achieved rather than what you didn’t!


What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

Don’t because we’re the best :-) (Hope you know that’s tongue in cheek!)


What is your ultimate goal for your business?

To build up the team to 5 engineers, providing local employment.


What's the most exciting thing you have planned?  

Our holiday to Turkey in April (fingers crossed) and investment in new equipment!


What do you enjoy doing when not running your business?

Golf, dog walking, Zumba and martial arts.


Tell us some of your life goals?

Retire to the sun at 60!


Tell us something surprising about yourself or your business

We love that customers are so interested in our use of CCTV to survey drains!


Thanks Anna! Great to hear more about Drain Doctor if you would like more information about their services, have a browse of their business page on My Town Online.


Covertree

Covertree


Hi Mark, tell us a bit about you and your business.  

Hi, my name is Mark Dobner and I’m the founding partner at Covertree Financial Services.


Covertree was founded with the simple ethos to always do the right thing for the client - this approach has been at the core of the business and has defined our culture.

Our independent status ensures that we have access to a wide range of insurance providers and lenders. We deal with mainstream insurance providers and banks, as well as friendly societies, specialist providers and niche lenders.


Whether our customers are looking for traditional mortgage funding or a bespoke arrangement, we have access to over 90 lenders including those with the most competitive rates on the market.


Our focus is working with small to medium-sized businesses, to ensure that the business is suitably protected and financially secure in the event of the death or serious illness of an owner or key people within the organisation. We offer policies to protect four core elements of business; ownership, profit, debt and death-in-service.


Describe a typical day in your business

At the moment, most days are far from typical, however, a typical day for us is a mixture of speaking to clients, researching products and solutions, liaising with lenders and providers to find a suitable product to offer our clients.


Describe the ideal day in your business

The ideal day for us is to meet our clients, whether they are new or existing, to discuss their goals and chat through what we can do to help them achieve them!


Describe your services and the ideal customer you like to help

Personal Protection: Every client has different priorities, different hopes and expectations, and different needs. At the core of what we do is to make sure that our clients are fully covered for life’s unknowns, to ensure that they and their loved ones are financially protected should they be unable to work or if they are no longer here.


Business Protection: The most valuable asset to any business is its people, and we want to make sure that your business is financially secure should anything happen to the key people that make it run smoothly day-to-day.


Mortgages & Lending: Covertree excels when it comes to solving complex mortgage requirements to achieve the lending sought. We work with our clients to achieve their property goals, be it a first-time mortgage, help-to-buy, remortgaging to a better deal or investing in a buy-to-let or additional property.


What unique skills have you developed to run your business?

All our advisers are qualified to offer financial advice and we take pride in being able to source solutions that other brokers may not be able to. Our fully qualified mortgage adviser, Will Hughes (CeMap), has years of experience helping clients to purchase their dream homes. He tailors his advice to our customers, taking the time to understand their circumstances before making any recommendations ??" he is often recognised by his clients for his efficiency, communication and using initiative to complete the mortgage in good time.


Why did you choose your industry/sector or niche?

The team at Covertree has been in the financial service industry for around 15 years, working mainly in the insurance and lending sectors. We have always found it very rewarding helping our clients reach their goals. At the core of what we do is the culture of ‘always do the right thing’ for our clients.


What one piece of advice do you wish you had been given before starting your business?

Building your client base is key so don’t take short cuts. Don’t think too grand until you can afford to do so.


What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

Surround yourself with like-minded people who share your vision for the business. People need to feel the same about the business as you do. Grow at a pace that doesn’t overstretch you and be disciplined with your plan.


What is your ultimate goal for your business?

Our mission is to deliver a better financial future for our clients, for their home, their family and/or their work. We believe in a straightforward approach to financial advice and to always do the right thing for our clients.


What’s the most exciting thing you have planned?  

Our plans for 2021 include expanding our Business Protection sector, this is an area that is very underserved by companies and business owners.


What do you enjoy doing when not running your business?

At the weekends, I am out walking and discovering new routes and paths around the local woodlands. I enjoy getting out in nature and will often go for several miles at a time.


Tell us something surprising about yourself or your business

In my early 20s I went traveling around the South Pacific and got marooned on an island in Fiji! I was eventually rescued by a passing fisherman, who took me and my friend to the main island.


Thanks for speaking with us Mark, it was great getting to know a bit more about Covertree! Head to the Covertree website if you would like to learn more or explore their local business page on My Town Online.

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