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Former jewellery design lecturer eyes business growth after studio investment

A FORMER college lecturer is confident an investment in her jewellery studio which allows her to rent out workbenches and teach small classes will pay off.

Helen Swan used thousands of pounds from her voluntary redundancy payment from Cardonald College to fund the work in her studio in the Jordanhill area of Glasgow.

After 31 years teaching jewellery and silversmithing the 57-year-old decided to fully concentrate on building her own business.

Over the past four years she had been cutting back her teaching hours to spend time creating designs for her self-titled brand.

Now alongside that she is launching specialist classes in a range of jewellery making areas while also renting out her tools and facilities to other aspiring entrepreneurs keen to make a mark in the industry.

She said: "The colleges were merging and they were looking for people to take voluntary severance. I decided it was my time to do something on my own.

"I was upgrading my studio and I thought why not take the opportunity to do something with it and put five workbenches in. So I got it all kitted out and am now running the courses."

Ms Swan believes she can also help to encourage other designers of all ages including many former pupils.

The fully equipped studio includes equipment such as workbenches, polishing motors, rolling mills and forming stakes for bending metal.

Although much of the work on the studio was completed earlier this year Ms Swan is only now starting to actively market the services available and draw up materials to outline the content of the courses.

She said: "There are a lot of students out there who don't have access to college facilities when they leave.

"They don't have access to a workspace so are left high and dry. They have to spend money on funding [their business] and not every person can afford to buy all the equipment.

"So by creating this environment I also thought it would give something back to the students I have churned out over all these years.

"It seemed an awful waste to have all this knowledge and not do something with it."

While Ms Swan is only beginning to build up her portfolio of classes she is considering running tutorials in areas including precious metal clay, stone setting and jewellery repair as well as offering packages to groups looking for days out.

She added: "It will hopefully give me a future outcome.

"I probably work longer and harder now than I did before but I am very, very lucky that it is a passion that I really enjoy."

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