A Shropshire woman is bucking the trend by opening a new retail business which is bringing together talented artists and craftspeople from across the county.

Sam Preston has launched Canvas and Clay in Ellesmere, a shop showcasing original work from local people as well as gifts, homeware products and greeting cards with a ‘Shropshire meets Scandi’ feel.

Formerly a high-flying marketing executive with leading airlines, Sam decided to take the plunge and launch her own enterprise after completing a ‘Step up’ programme online for new businesses run by Bridgnorth business consultancy Good2Great.

“I hope that Canvas and Clay makes a great addition to the retail offer in the beautiful town of Ellesmere,” said Sam.

“I am working alongside local artists to sell original paintings, prints, ceramic and woodturning pieces, as well as other handpicked products from around the UK and Europe.

“This is a chance for the local community to have access to the wide range of local artistic talent and for tourists to buy unusual gifts, affordable art and a memento of their time in Ellesmere.

“I am following a dream after facing redundancy due to Covid and now have a better work-life balance with my baby son. I have only been trading for a few weeks and it’s been wonderful, I have received an amazing reaction already.

“The support provided by Good2Great gave me the tools and confidence to set up the business successfully. The programme led me to meet like-minded people – something that was vital during the Covid lockdown where the normal networking channels were not available.

“I’ve also benefitted from having my own dedicated advisor in Sally Themans, who is involved with retail and championing high streets through Love Bridgnorth and Love Wellington, so she’s been a brilliant sounding board for me when setting up as part of the Ellesmere retail scene,” Sam said.

The Step Up Business Programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Telford & Wrekin Council on behalf of partners Shropshire Council.