Wayne Cullum taught secondary school art for 12 years before the daily bureaucracy made him long for something more creative.
He formed Crafted London in 2014 and now runs children’s art workshops, parties, and clubs from their designated space in South London which includes a children’s soft-play area.
Wayne was looking for something which afforded him more creative freedom and now he’s found it. After 2-years of planning, and a difficult search for the right venue, they’re now successfully up and running.
Here we spoke to him about what his daily routine involves and why he loves being his own boss.
Why did you start Crafted London?
I’d been thinking about doing a community business for years, my teaching role changed a lot, it became very political and I wasn’t always enjoying it, so, I looked into it further.
What’s a typical day like?
I get here at about 8am to clean and tidy and then we open at 9am. We have people coming in just for soft-play, and then others later on for time-tabled events and art workshops. We do a variety of craft activities.
What activities do you do?
This week we’re making advent calendars, the kids then get to take them home. They will get 24 stickers that they can then stick on the Christmas tree they’ve painted. The kids can be really messy, doing painting and gluing – it’s a fun process!
What makes Crafted unique?
We haven’t found anywhere that runs art workshops with a soft play area combined. There are other art sessions nearby but their shorter due to the children’s short attention spans.
We realise that because we have the play area, kids can have a break and they don’t lose their concentration so quickly – we can be flexible.
Do you have regular customers?
We have people who come here every week and we have drop-ins. It’s also quite seasonal – we’re very busy around Christmas time and often have people visiting frequently during their maternity leave. We offer loyalty packages for our regulars.
How did you find your business?
I live a 5-minute walk away and I wanted something local. However, it was difficult, commercial property here is limited and therefore at a premium. In the end a friend told me about this place.
What were the biggest challenges?
Originally it was finding the right location. Then, in the early days, it was marketing and getting people to know that were here – we’re tucked off the main road so don’t have much walk-by footfall. We also had to work out the customer patterns, i.e. When people wanted classes.
And the biggest challenge yet is that we now have to move out of the venue for a while, while the landlord re-builds the building. We’re moving into the church for the duration and they’ve been very supportive.
What advice would you give to others thinking of starting their own business?
I would say go for it, after doing a lot of research and knowing it is viable. I did about 2-years of leg work while I was teaching, looking at different options. I absolutely recommend it but make sure you have all of the planning in place first.
What are your future plans?
We want to replicate the space – as a children’s franchise or a chain of Crafted spaces. But we also want some adult space, with space for video art and exhibitions, perhaps with a café or bar, and with workshop/studio and desk space for hire.
What is your favourite thing about running your own business?
It’s very creative, we run a number of different creative workshops and creating the ideas is really good fun. I now have freedom to come up with my own ideas.