Case Study: Paula Eales

Paula Eales is plus-sized clothes designer and maker, based in Lancaster, Lancashire. She has taken part in the Roots and Shoots business training course with The Growing Club and also works for the organisation as an administrator.

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Case study Paula Eales

Tell us a little bit about how you started with The Growing Club CIC.

I started with the Crafty Women course. It was brilliant. Then I went on to Roots and Shoots.

I hadn’t worked for a lot of years. I’m an ex-professional; I went to university and became a speech and language therapist. I had no idea, workwise, what to do. I didn’t want to go back to my old profession.

I didn’t like being around a lot of people but the sessions were great. We had lots of different guest speakers in, some based on the crafts, some with more practical skills around money and finances and then there were some that were more focused on confidence and wellbeing. They were all pitched at the right level – that was important. Speakers like Jackie from Story Wheel came to our sessions and Christine spoke about business accountancy, which I actually found really interesting.

Tell us about your business?

My self-employment is making plus-size clothing. When I started the course, at that point I had been sewing for a couple of years. It was a hobby I took up and I loved it. It just gave me so much.

What do you feel you’ve learned during the training course?

It’s quite hard to reflect back now because I changed so much. If you’d interviewed me then after that particular course, you’d see such a difference in me now but that course was the start of that journey really. That’s why I’m so committed to what Jane and The Growing Club does.

The course lasted long enough so that the women bonded. I learned again about relationships again, meeting new people. I learned to be around people, creating relationships, having a voice, making comments. I actually started to think ‘Yeah, I can go back to work!

Case study Paula Eales

What kind of skills and activities did you take part in that helped with your personal and business growth?

We learned lots of things like listening skills – a lot of stuff I’d experienced in my working background. For me, it wasn’t about learning to do CVs, listening, how to present yourself, how to do an interview – I had all of that and even my basic text skills were pretty good. I was already selling bits on eBay – we did an Etsy session which was helpful because I wasn’t used to it, but a lot of the knowledge and basic skills I had.

It was more the emotional support for me to just be there with about 8-10 of us. I always sat on the fringes and didn’t really do a lot of socialising but I built up a relationship with a few people. That was massive to me.

Roots and Shoots was a step-up and was more challenging for me mentally and intellectually. The course content was up a level. We talked about ethical selling, marketing and branding which was really useful. It did change the way I listed things on eBay, for example.

What do you feel you gained from the training course?

Ginny did a session on photography which was excellent and really helped. We also did another couple of finance sessions which were much more in-depth about earnings and tax returns.

The final part of Roots and Shoots was unfortunately blighted by Covid-19 and we didn’t get to say goodbye properly. Roots and Shoots really helped me build on my confidence.

The Growing Club has helped me find that ability to sit and to be and to be joyful. It’s fantastic. I’m so fortunate to have a Growing Club mentor too – Sarah Ludford – I get her full support. The weekly drop-ins are helpful too. People are always welcome. 

The Growing Club is so much further reaching than what people can see. It’s like a constant for life, like arms reaching out, that are always there and seem to grow forever. I feel very fortunate.