Saturday, 21 November 2020

Your 2020 Christmas List: Supporting small businesses in our community | Part 2

Our first article was received so well and we loved discovering some businesses run by theatre people, since the first feature a few more businesses have grabbed our attention so we couldn't help but make a second instalment! Remember, buying from small businesses could really help someone out, especially when they're run by people in our industry who are unfortunately left with no work right now. Take a look at this list and if you've not seen it, our first one too but remember to try and seek these people out. They're everywhere on social media and there's so much to chose from! 

Heather Porte is a recent graduate from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, during the pandemic she has opened up a new business 'Needle & Stem'. House plants are all the rage right now, so why not combine that with a new hobby? Heather has created these embroidery kits based around houseplants that feature cheeky and fun slogans, not only are these kits super cute but if bought for someone you're not only giving them a cute and thoughtful gift, you're also encouraging a new hobby! 

This incredible and unique art company is founded by Anu Ogunmefun, the artist behind the business. Before the pandemic Anu was in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre, since the West End shutting down she has taken her other talents to form her business. She creates these stunning prints which would not look out of place in any modern home, you can even buy her designs on a jumper or Christmas card! And, for something extra special, why not get a custom cartoon design for a loved one?

Before the pandemic, Sam Toland was playing the lead role of Galileo in the Royal Caribbean production of We Will Rock You. Sam creates these gorgeous wooden hand made coasters, each one is individually drawn and burnt on by hand. His musical theatre designs would be perfect for anyone wanting a stagey but classy touch to their home or office and his Christmas designs also would make anyone's living room that extra bit festive. He can also customise each order, so why not drop him a message and see what he can do for you. He also has a range of Christmas Cards, so take a look at those as well! These are personal and special, I defy anyone not to be delighted with these on Christmas day. 

Elizabeth Armstrong, who was due to go on tour with Hairspray this year, set up Boo Designs at the beginning of this year. She uses her creative talents in this business to create handmade, bespoke cards and prints for all occasions. With Christmas coming up, what a perfect opportunity to purchase some of a kind cards to impress your family and friends! These designs are so cute and a wonderful way for you to add some personal touches for your loved ones this festive period. But it doesn't just stop at Christmas, you can get in contact with her all year round! 

Your pet deserves as much as you on Christmas day, so why not treat them to a personalised Pet Feeder? These beautiful creations are made by Marcus Ayton who has appeared in shows like Shrek, The Wizard of Oz and Elegies for Punks, Angels and Raging Queens, these pieces were inspired by his new adorable puppy Jasper. They come in a variety of sizes with bowls included, head over to his Instagram and get your puppy friend something special this Christmas! 

Everybody loves a graphic T-shirt, huge companies make a lot of these but why would you want to pay big corporations this Christmas when you could get a unique product from an independent seller? In comes Andy Barke. Andy, who was performing in Pretty Woman before the theatres shut down, has launched his own clothing company featuring his great designs. From Heathers to The Wizard of Oz and Donuts to Buddy the Elf, his Ts are so fun and would be perfect for a gift this Christmas. 

Not like any ordinary candle, these special handmade products are hand decorated with plants and crystals all chosen carefully to enhance one's positivity and well being. They are also vegan, cruelty free, eco-conscious and have lead free wicks. Made by Nicola Espallardo, whose musical credits include Working, Les Miserables and The Pirate Queen, each candle has been specially designed by her with incredible intelligence of these crystals, you're getting far more than just a nice smelling candle. A must-purchase for anyone with someone in their life addicted to candles! 

Louise Jane was working in the Arts in Stage Management but now has created a beautiful business making decor items for your home, mostly out of Resin. Her resin art is absolutely beautiful and with so many items to chose from, you're really going to give someone something very special with the Duchess of Decor! From coasters to tables, she's got you covered for some different, interesting and beautiful gifts this Christmas. 

Do you know someone stagey who you're not quite sure what to buy them this Christmas? Don't worry, Scott has you covered! Scott Day, a recent graduate of the Guildford School of Acting, has designed several stagey prints. He has some great lyric prints available but the thing that caught our eye was the Musical Scratch-Off poster! For every show you've seen on the list, you scratch them off! What a perfect gift for any theatre lover. 

Businesses can be discovered in some of the most unexpected moments, this one was born when Rhyan and his partner were planning their own wedding. When making things for their own celebration, Rhyan discovered she could make a business out of this. Red Cat Creations now make anything personalised for your special day to special items for events and even personalised items to make your house feel more like a home. With a huge range of products available, check out what she has to offer and how you could make someone's Christmas that bit more personalised. 

Need a big present for someone? How about a custom handmade piece of furniture? Matt Thorpe, who has appeared in shows like We Will Rock You, Hairspray, Jersey Boys and American Idiot, creates these rustic and industrial pieces of furniture. We're always looking for ways to make our houses more homely and what better way than these stunning pieces. Invest in your home by investing in small businesses, head over to Matts Etsy instead of B&Q! 

Ciara has spent the last 4 years working in the wardrobe departments of large scale musicals in London's West End, when work came to a halt due to the pandemic she decided to take the plunge and open her own business. Pink Alligator brings together Ciara's passions and now with a range of printed face masks, eye masks, acrylic earrings and some super cute Christmas decorations, you'll definitely be able to find a Christmas gift in this shop!


One for the stagey ones out there, Peter Hannah (who was last seen in the West End's production of Waitress before the pandemic forced theatres to close) has created these stunning portraits of some of Londons Theatres. These incredible prints are stylish and would look wonderful on anyone wall, whether you have a personal connection to the theatres, love the show that's in them or just fancy some new art around the house, these would be the perfect idea. And this Christmas, wouldn't it make the perfect gift for any theatre fan?!

Founded by Actress Jessica SingerWhat the Crate? make custom, bespoke and handcrafted crates for all occasions. These crates are really pretty and super cool, whether you need somewhere to store a child's toys, or maybe start a herb garden, to store Christmas presents in or even to store your personalised hand sanitiser bottles (which she sells as well!), these boxes are a perfect and different Christmas present idea. Check out the store on Instagram and on Etsy to see how you can get one of our own! 

Julia Crammer and Annette Waldie are two friends and freelance stage managers who, between the, have worked in top West End theatres, the National, the Orange Tree, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Young Vic and the Hampstead Theatre to name a few! They have created a range of products that would be delightful gifts to anyone this Christmas. Including notepad covers with stationery holders, yoga mat bags, Wine bottle waistcoats and cutlery wraps! They have a wonderful and adorable range of products, I'm sure you will have no trouble finding someone a gift! 

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