WITH the UK still reeling from the effects of the worst recession in a generation, it is easy to get disheartened by all the doom-mongering currently being bandied about.
But one artistic Larne woman is striving to beat the doom and gloom by injecting a splash of colour into people’s lives.
Tasha Copeland, a trained interior designer, has taken her love for all things bright and beautiful and used it to inspire creativity in others.
Two days a week at her Larne-based studio, dubbed Lulabelle’s House, Tasha demonstrates how a lick of paint can breath new life into old furniture, all in a fun and friendly group environment.
During the day-long workshops, her clients learn an array of painting and decorative techniques, which they then apply to vintage and retro pieces of furniture.
Tasha told the Larne Times: “It gives me great pleasure to see people coming into my studio and having real ball transforming old tables and chairs into something beautiful. We have a lot of fun and the atmosphere is always very enjoyable. And the best part is, you don’t need to have any previous experience - anyone can do it.”
The idea is a simple yet unique one, and Lulabelle’s House has really taken off since Tasha acquired her own premises at LEDCOM on Bank Road. Prior to that, her studio had been based at re:store on Point Street in the town.
When mum-of-one Tasha announced that she was leaving her part-time job at Floor Style in Larne to start up her own business, many of her friends and relatives feared that she was making a big mistake.
“People were saying it was too big of a risk and they didn’t think the idea would catch on. But I stayed positive and was adamant that I was doing the right thing, and I am now delighted to say that I have secured my dream job,” she added.
“My classes are booked up until the end of May, and I have clients coming from as far as Dublin to take part. It proves there is market for what I am doing, and I plan to introduce a couple of evening workshops in the near future to accommodate the increasing demand.”
As well as hosting workshops in her studio, Tasha also makes good use of her experience in the vintage and antiques trade. She has spent years tracking down shabby and unwanted items of furniture and turning them into something special, giving them a new lease of life before selling them on.
She added: “I am really passionate about restoring these items. I have sold a lot of them on ebay and it would be great to be able to open my own shop in Larne some day.”
Tasha said she owes a lot of her success to the Go For It Programme, a free scheme funded by Invest NI and delivered locally by LEDCOM, which aims to help local entrepreneurs get their fledgling businesses off the ground.
“The Go For It Programme proved to be extremely helpful to me when I was setting up my business, as it gave me the knowledge and support I needed to get a handle on all the various aspects of running a company and how to market myself,” she added.
And Tasha has bright plans for the future of Lulabelle’s House, harbouring ambitions to turn the business into a franchise with branches as far afield as Australia.
“My company is named after my sister Louise, who used to get called Lulabelle when she was younger. She runs a similar business in Australia, and I would love to set up my own branch over there as well someday. Right now though, I am very happy and content with the way things are going here in Larne,” she concluded.
Tasha’s workshops take place every Thursday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm. For more information, visit www.lulabelleshouse.co.uk or contact Tasha at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07960 154019.