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Basketmaker weaves growth into her business plans after joining female support programme

Amy Gunawan Basketmaker photo Morganna Monk Photography

Amy Gunawan makes baskets and woven decorative pieces from willow. She also runs workshops teaching basketry and woven crafts that offer a space for people to take time out of their busy lives and to enjoy the creative process of learning a new skill.

Amy started her basket making journey in January 2021 with a few hand tools, a book and 15 free nursery hours a week. She taught herself the basic skills of basket making and from there set up her in December of that year. Amy sought support from The Growing Club at the start of her business journey and now has an Etsy shop and sells her woven products at local craft fairs. Her work is currently in the ‘Raw’ exhibition in Arteria, Lancaster until May 2023. She shares her growth story and feedback from the support gained through joining The Growing Club and taking part in its startup programmes.

What made you join The Growing Club?

I knew that I wanted to start a business but I wasn’t really sure where to start and how to go about it. When I heard about The Growing Club and its Roots and Shoots start up course it seemed to be exactly what I needed.

Tell us about your journey with the Growing Club?

In April 2021 I started the Sowing Club course which was a really lovely introduction to The Growing Club and helped me to build my confidence. It gave me a few hours each week just for me to focus on my needs and wants. Later that year I started the Roots and Shoots course which has massively helped me to start my business. Having a community and the support from a network of others doing the course really gave me the courage to take those first steps. As well as the practical business advice around planning, finances, banding etc I was surprised how much emphasis was placed on self-care and I now realise just how crucial this is to running a sustainable business. As a single mum with a then two-year-old, I was trying and struggling to juggle everything by myself. So the session on ‘Managing it all’ and having it actually confirmed that ‘I can’t do everything’ was exactly what I needed to hear. From this session I have become much better at asking for help and recognising that people want to help as well. Since graduating from the course I am now training up to deliver the course as one of the trainers. It’s great to be a part of the growing club and in delivering the course it’s a joy to meet so many talented women and support them on their journeys.

What has been your biggest challenge of the last couple of years?

Myself, facing myself, my fears, believing in myself, valuing myself, being vulnerable and through all that doing it anyway. It’s been a big journey and I’ve been pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It’s something I continue to do, its challenging but ultimately I’m living my life in a different way and I feel much more fulfilled.

What are your plans for the next 12 to 24 months?

I’m currently working on my branding, and plan to set up a website. I plan to continue to grow my business and explore different venues to sell my baskets. To develop my basketry skills from more experienced basket makers and continue to develop and deliver my workshops. I would also like to grow my own willow supply so that I can grow some different varieties and experience the full journey from plant, harvest, processing the willow right through to a finished basket.

The Growing Club CIC is a not-for-profit organisation, facilitating fantastic skills and business training, creating opportunities for women, using a creative and alternative proven model. Based in Lancaster, it hosts workshops, courses and events for women starting up in business or seeking to return to the workforce.  This case study originally featured on its website. Photo courtesty of Morganna Monk Photography

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