Sometimes it takes just a small thing to turn a life around.
For Mandy Baldwin, it was a chance invitation from a friend to go to a jewellery-making class in Colchester.
Mandy, from Raydon Way, Great Cornard, went to the class with her friend Sally Thomason, and was immediately hooked.
It was the start of a path that led her to begin her own business in Sudbury, and she is hoping to give up her cleaning work to concentrate on it.
She is now the proud owner of Mandy’s Bespoke Jewellery, which she began a year ago.
“I had always done crafts like knitting and cross-stitch but had never done jewellery-making,” said Mandy.
“I went for one class and I took to it like a duck to water. I found it very relaxing – a lot of jobs are very stressful and I don’t cope well with stress.
“I still do the cleaning on a Monday but if this picks up I hope I can give the cleaning up.”
Once Mandy had done a few classes she taught herself new techniques from the internet and from books.
But it was a big step from this to starting up her own business: “I was very nervous at first and I still have to pay my rent and buy stock, but I am glad I did it because it seems to be going well so far.”
Mandy, 50, puts the popularity of the craft down to it being a relaxing hobby and one which all ages can take part in - her oldest client is in her 90s and comes to the jewellery-making workshops with her great-grandchildren. Meanwhile the classes which Mandy runs from the shop are also popular with children as young as three.
She offers group classes on particular subjects as well as one-to-one lessons.
Her shop, which occupies a small basement area in Bank Buildings, is home to an impressive selection of all things pertaining to jewellery-making, including beads, fastenings, wire, and much more.
More unusual items include beaded dog and cat collars, beaded pens which can be made to individual designs and beaded pen-tops which are popular with children.
Mandy said: “A lot of places do necklaces and earrings, I want to offer something different.”
Off-the-shelf items, all made by Mandy, are available to buy, but if you prefer to make your own, there are strings of matching beads on offer. Other beads sit enticingly in individual pots, like a jewellery-making pick-and-mix.
The whole area gives an intimate and friendly feel, almost like being invited into someone’s home, rather than a shop.
It is a ‘small is good’ ethos which Mandy feels is the way forward: “I am not interested in getting too big, I am happy with where I am - if you get too big, things start going wrong.”
And she is quite busy running the shop, workshops, doing jewellery repairs and attending fairs and markets to sell her goods.
She says local traders have been very supportive by sending customers to her.
The shop is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10-5.30pm. Booking is essential for classes, contact Mandy on 07899923516 or Sally 07980152534.