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Founders Story - How a gift from my nan spun my career 360!

My nan Roz was an artist, for as long as I remember, her hobby was painting. Birds and trees in particular, in watercolour. Its such a fond memory of mine, sitting at her dining room table, learning to paint, Bob Ross on in the background! So when my son was born and we called him Cedar, she of course gifted us a beautiful painting of a cedar tree. Having moved house a fair bit in my twenties, I had never had one of her paintings at home. so the fact that I now had one, plus the fact the sentiment behind why she had painted it was lovely. In early 2019 my nan passed away and the painting on my wall touched my heart a little bit more. Beyond photos I love looking at a piece of art she made with her own hands and love.

I have always been the ‘arty’ child, my mum tells me that as a kid, a pile of old magazines, scissors and pens would keep me occupied for hours, dolls and play-sets were never my thing. So after A levels (art, textiles and English) I scooted off to do an Art Foundation year. I absolutely loved this year and after the school years of art I felt so much freedom. I feel the change between school art and post school art is such a lost opportunity for many. I now get many guests (particularly in the older generation) tell me they were always told they weren’t very good at art at school and have been put off trying it again ever since. Its often these guests walking way with a bigger smile on their face! So after college I headed up to Loughborough to do a textile design degree. I had loved painting but felt I needed to do a degree that had more ‘job prospects’ after. I loved the course, but job prospects after - there were not. Bearing mind this was early 2000’s and the internet and social medias were very new, self promotion was not a thing. 

So after uni I stayed in the midlands, shacked up with my sister, did some freelance textile design. My highlight - I once sold a skirt to Coast (remember that shop - the only place to buy wedding outfits!) And started working in a pub! As many of us do, falling into hospitality was easy and I soon worked my way up. A side shift moved me into their team training section and I literally travelled from Aberdeen to Hayling Island opening pubs and training teams. A great job, one that definitely meant I got used to driving miles! (helpful now!), but one that had a shelf life. I did a few years before going back to the front line and managing pubs. I did my time in Nottingham, London, before getting my first manager's appointment in Reading. Here I met my partner Dan (on Plenty of Fish) and we soon moved in together in a pub in Haslemere, Surrey. 

I think from the first moment of meeting Dan I told him, I knew I would do something creative again one day - I just had no idea what or how to get there. But that idea was shelved for a bit and I put my all into being the pub landlady, putting on events, managing the team and literally doing everything from head chef to cleaner and dray man! I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t fully me. I’m an introvert, I wasn’t thriving and I was stressed. So in 2016 I had our son Cedar and I never went back to pub management. When I left on maternity I had every intention to go back (there was no other option in my head for me). But Dan had a run in with my area manager and was kicked out of our accommodation. So I of course went too and decided that struggling with childcare and commuting to a job I had no passion for, was less than worth it. Teaching me that sometimes things just happen for a reason - without this would I ever have made the leap!

So what next, small baby in tow, a career I didn’t want to return to and a desire to re-ignite art back into my life. One thing I did, and would totally advocate is I gave myself time and space to breath and think. Grandparents had Cedar one day a week and I took on a job as a cleaner - zero responsibility, zero customers, just hands on work that gave me the opportunity to put in earphones and listen to podcasts. Just inspirational podcasts, no relevance to me now but at the time it gave me a chance not to be a mum and think about myself. Bliss.

Soon after Dan and I created Cedars Yard - our joint venture. Him a furniture maker and me an artist. I started off making painted bead jewellery, before venturing onto canvas / walls and selling paintings. In 2019 my art career was growing and as many artists do I felt adding a workshop to my offer was the way to go. I was enjoying painting big and Dan and I had painted a few canvases together as a fun evening thing to do when Cedar kept us up!  But I couldn’t figure out how this would work in a workshop when people didn't know each other. 

So how did my nan’s painting gift turn my career 360 and inspire me to start Make Your Mark Events. Well through loving having her marks on my wall I realised that these marks people were making were more than just marks. They were expressions of love, unity, joy and I wanted to bring that opportunity to everyone. Not just the people who had artists in the family, So through this thought and thinking when do people come together to celebrate - the idea of guests painting at weddings was born. In 2019 I trialled it and the rest is history. I'm still painting as a hobby but my world is now 99% weddings and events! Make Your Mark Events was made official in 2022 and each year it goes from strength to strength. Allowing more and more people to make their marks for those they love. Stumbling into the wedding world was never on the cards and now I couldn't be happier in an industry.

So, I finally found my path in the creative world and I didn’t know what it was all those years back because it didn't exist yet. And every stage of my journey so far has meant that I can now approach this venture with skills and passion to make it a success. I really am grateful to everyone on my journey. 

Special thanks (like this is my Life bio!) to my partner Dan for always being my champion and being 100% behind every mad idea I've had, Ben and Sato for letting me trial my idea at their wedding in the summer of 2019. Emma and Tim, for being my first couple to ever book me, Gate St Barn (the first ever venue I contacted who gave me faith in my idea) my amazing art team who support the weddings and work in my studio, Zoe, Jen, Rebecca, Shona and Gurjeet, my mum (Bridgette) for always having faith and also being a part of my team. Its just the start (though early this year we’ll hit our 100th event!) and I’m excited for the future of Make Your Mark Events.

Emma xx

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