Thursday, 12 November 2020

Your 2020 Christmas List: Supporting small businesses in our community


This year has been a rollercoaster for us all, but no more than our creatives and performers who have been failed by a system that is there to protect them. However, as natural hustlers, people have popped up with small businesses all over the place and we wanted to celebrate that. Over the past month, I have been taking note of some businesses that are definitely worthy of being on everyone's Christmas list. Take a look at some of the people who we have found, and why not have a little search around social media to see if you could buy any gifts from people in our industry, helping them out could really make a difference. This list we have created is a start, but please actively search for not only independent and small business but also those that have been set up by people who have been left without work in our industry. 

Banner artwork by Justin Williams.  



These stylish and stunning digital custom portraits are truly one of a kind. With a background in Ballet, Jamie Shields has also appeared in musicals like Cats and We Will Rock You. He creates these fabulous minimalistic sketches that are super stylish and would fit into a modern design home perfectly. Get an icon to add some unique art to your walls or perhaps slide into Jamie's DMs to commission a personalised portrait. 




With credits such as Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Titanic, Les Miserables, The Barricade Boys, Pipe Dream, Chess and many more, Kieran Brown is no stranger to the West End stage. What you may not know about him is that he is a very talented photographer who has taken this one step further. He has set up his own website where you can purchase any of the gorgeous images he has taken, but why not go the extra mile and get the pictures on facemasks, on a mug or even on a coaster?! What makes purchasing one of these images even better, is that 10% of every sale goes to Acting for Others. All information can be found on his website. 




Jade Johnson, previously seen in The Book of Mormon, Club Mex and The Pirate Queen, has opened a delightful bakery business. These stunning bakes are perfect for any Christmas Party (if we'll be allowed...) and could add something very impressive to your Christmas table this year! All you have to do is look at these pictures of Jades creations to get hungry. If you have to pass on an invitation over the festive period this year, why not send them one of Jades bakes to make up for it? 




Sabia Smith was working behind the scenes in our theatre industry as a costume supervisor and maker, she has opened up a business selling not only gorgeous facemasks, but also tote bags, pot Holders and bookmarks! This was inspired by Sabia finding out about the rise in plastic pollution from disposable face masks. We adore all her products but especially her bookmarks; they are great for reading outdoors as they stop the pages flying open, keeping recipe books open whilst you're cooking and even double up as a coaster! Perfect for a book lover.




You may know Soophia Foroughi from the recently opened West End musical The Prince of Egypt, as well as shows like Broken Wings, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Tiger Bay and Spamalot. Following the West End shutting down she launched Ava and Azar, a company that makes handmade, bespoke, statement earrings. Combining her Iranian heritage with a love of statement earrings, Soophia draws inspiration from the incredible colour palettes of Persian architecture and Iran’s stunning landscapes. They will be a must-have for anyone who loves a bold earing this Christmas. 




Plants are all the rage this year, you can't scroll through Instagram without seeing someone proudly showing off their new plant baby. Now, instead of just sticking to the boring pots you get from the garden centres, why not spice them up and make a purchase with Good LewKen Pots?! Made by Lewis Jason Kennedy, who graduated from Mountview in 2018, these gorgeous hand-painted indoor plant pots will add something really special to your home. And what a perfect present for your plant-loving friends! 




Anyone who knows Francesca Pim will know her love for all things girly, sparkly and pink. So what better way than for her to start with a business bringing all these things into one, Pretty in Pim was born. You may know her from musicals like Salad Days, Into the Woods, Twang!!, Alice in Wonderland or Wonderful Town but now you'll know her as CEO of Pretty in Pim. Making bespoke, handmade hair accessories these products will definitely allow you to live out your Disney Princess fantasy. 



Wondered what it would be like to have a diary that specifically is centred around your job or classes? Well, look no further! Ella and Laura down at Point & Flex have created a series of diaries specifically designed for dancers, choreographers & gymnasts among some other gorgeous stationery bits all designed with these people in mind. Its a super unique and interesting range of products that would be such a perfect gift to someone. You certainly won't find anything like this in WHSmith! 




Does someone in your life need a touch of style and homeliness added to their homes? Well, Tom's here to help you! Tom Hargreaves is an actor who you may have seen in shows like Wicked, Saturday Night Fever, The Wizard of Oz, 9 to 5, The Life and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, to name a few! He makes hand made plant hangers and wall hangings, a variety of designs are available and he also takes commissions! These are super cool and really beautiful, it will no doubt add a bit of life to your home. 




An earing can make or break an outfit, and what more could you want than a handmade, unique accessory?! Kayleigh's Kuffs make a range of Kuffs that require no piercing at all, they are absolutely gorgeous and will help you step up your style. They'll make the perfect gift this Christmas. made by Kayleigh Thadani who has previously been in Aladdin, White Christmas, Puttin' on the Ritz and was also due to appear in the international tour of Cats. 




Elle Banstead-Salim is an actress whose credits include Teechers at the Guildford Fringe Theatre and on Tour, Teeth N Smiles at the Stockwell Playhouse, Cat in the Hat for Paul Taylor Mills and Cinders - The Adult Panto at the Guildford Fringe. Starting back in the first lockdown, she has started making custom dungarees. Selling them on Etsy, they are absolutely gorgeous and to own something like this that you certainly cannot buy on the high street would be an incredibly special gift. 




Lyla Schillinger, a recent graduate from the Guildford School of Acting, has a slightly different product to make your festive season extra special this year. Her calligraphy is stunning and would be perfect for any personalised card, place setting, gift tag or even a personalised quote which would look incredible in a frame. The amazing thing about this business is you really have the freedom to create something very special and personal with Lyla. Add some class to your Christmas and check out her store. 




Know someone who is super into skincare? Well, this is the perfect business. Founded by Actor, Host and Company Manager, Benjamin Martin, he has created this range of skin and beauty products that are made from natural products. A Jersey native himself, all products are made from Jersey produce and are all ocean-friendly, cruelty-free, sustainably sourced and eco friendly! Supporting performers and creatives who have suffered this year is very important, but also supporting a business who source materials from local suppliers is equally important. Treat yourself or a loved one this Christmas to some natural and gorgeous skincare! 




Another Jewelry business here, but this is a very different style to the ones we already have listed. Some gorgeous handmade products made by Holly Liburd who was last seen in the UK tour of The Bodyguard & Squad Goals and soon to appear in Hairspray at the London Collesium. This range of earrings, necklaces and bracelets are elegant and stylish, as well as her ready-made accessories she also is open to taking requests. For anyone who loves a gorgeous statement piece will certainly want some of Holly's creations in their collection.  




Before Covid hit, Thalia was managing a theatre in the West End but has turned her hand to something else. This business is completely unique, not only are they encouraging people to use second-hand books but they are enhancing the reading experience by creating these wonderful soy candles. You simply select one of the books from the website and you not only receive the novel, but also a custom made candle inspired by the location of the story. For all you people out there who enjoy reading in bed whilst light some candles, this one is totally for you. 


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