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A CRZyBest 2023

Finally! A reflection on some of the things last year, so I can say what I'm doing in 2024 and also, so that I can say what I'm not going to be doing this year... that's a strategic move to help me focus on developing CRZyBest and hopefully be able to spend more time creating CRZyBest creations and keeping that focus of 'Creativity & Happiness'.


January


Following on from studying Sustainability as part of my University course, I started January 2023 in a most academic way by studying, completing assignments and passing three course modules in: Business Data, Project Management and Digital Marketing.


As a throwback to my twenty year Teaching career, I went back to school, to take part in supporting students in their Industry Days. I continued to take part in these careers events throughout the year and have already taken part this January!


I attended various webinars, particularly with Small Business Britain and I did a bit of networking, especially with Creative Mornings Derby, which is a fabulous way to start a Friday once a month and Connecting Creatives on a Monday night.




Taking the leap and applying to take part in Derbyshire Open Arts for the first time, after being a visitor for years, was something I am very happy I did.



And finally, I did get to take a bit of time out and went on a great pub tour of Sheffield with friends. I say 'time out' as some of my favourite things to make are inspired by dogs and beer, so my inspiration cogs were whirring!


February


I took part in a Business for Good: Green Skills for Small Businesses, with Small Business Britain. I'm always on the look out for how for how to develop CRZyBest more sustainably and how to tell others about it!



I was invited to showcase my creations at the Wedding Showcase at Donington Park Farmhouse. After saying that I was going to reduce my number of wedding fairs, I ended up taking part in a few at the start of 2023. This year I have remembered what I said and this year my only February Wedding Fair at The Museum of Making, just a 20 minute walk from my CRZyBest Shedquarters!



Netwalking with Small Business Britain was great to talk part in, unfortunately the Derby Netwalks have not continued, or I would be taking part in these regularly as it was great fun to be able to take my dog 'Barley' and meet new people, outside in the fresh air. I love it when business events allow dogs to go along too, they often help to break the ice.




March


The inaugural Spring Craft Market at Donington Park Farmhouse was a fabulous event and I am very much looking forward to taking part in next years Spring Market!





More Green Skills for Small Businesses with Small Business Britain, helping me on my sustainability journey. Along a similar route, I attended a 'Reducing your carbon footprint' conference, as part of Derby University Festival of Business. This was a perfect conference for me to attend, as I could walk there from my CRZyBest Shedquarters. The following day, I attended a fascinating workshop, discussing the Environmental impact of your website, something that we don't often think about, but can be so simple in some parts to address. I spent the rest of the year shrinking my photos and tweaking things on my CRZyBest website, this blog took me a bit longer to put together because I was making sure all the photos were small enough!


Attending so many webinars and in person events about sustainability and looking after our planet, really helped me brush up my knowledge, ready for hosting my first Derby People Planet Pint. If you haven't heard, People, Planet, Pint is a monthly Sustainability meet up, focused on discussing and supporting each other in our sustainability journey's. There are now over 70 groups around the world and the fantastic carbon positive web hosting company 'Krystal' buy the first thirty-three people at each event, a free pint, using the beer tokens made from recycled fishing nets. People, Planet, Pint is the brainchild of Adam from Small 99, so if you are interested in starting your net zero journey, then Small 99 is good place to start, or find your local People, Planet, Pint! Our next Derby event, is on Thursday 25th January, at The Flowerpot, in their cellar bar at 6pm, sign up on Eventbrite to get your free ticket and free beer!





Keeping along the theme of beer, I was back at The Garage, Chilwell who are a massive advocate of my favourite things 'Dogs & Beer'! The Garage's Sunday Markets are a joy to attend and Barley can come along with me. Although after a while, he gets taken for a lovely doggo walk to Attenborough Nature Reserve, whilst I stay at The Garage with my CRZyBest Pink Bar, showcasing and selling my creations, whilst trying not spend all my profit on the lovely things surrounding me!




I completed a Uni module in Workplace Wellness, in anticipation of completing enough units on my business course to be eligible to take the accreditation unit at the end of the year.


Helping out Derbyshire Open Arts to be more sustainable, I collected the trail brochures for people taking part from Derby. This meant not so many people had to travel all the way to Darley Dale, but only as far as my CRZyBest Shedquarters, which being near Derby City Centre, was quite handy for people. Some even being able to walk and collect their brochures and marketing stuff.





Quite a few events happened pretty close together, which meant extra special planning for me and my chauffer! (I don't drive, that would be terrible) After attending The Garage on the Sunday, I had a special Business focused, Spring Showcase at the Enterprise Centre mid week, hosted by Derby University and Banks Mill. Although the venue for the Showcase is only a seven minute walk down the road, I still needed to get my CRZyBest Bar and Creations their, so careful planning around Mr CRZyBest's shifts and support from the venue, meant I could take part and it was a fantastic event, with a whole array of makers showcasing their creations to local businesses! I then packed away and we took all my stuff to The Derbyshire Makers Spring Fair, which was happening on the Saturday and Sunday at Peak Village.


April



Starting April at a sprint with The Derbyshire Makers Spring Fair, at Peak Village, was brilliant! Another wonderful place to be and shop, as it is totally dog friendly, so Barley can come along and go for lovely walks into the Peak District with my chauffer Mr CRZyBest, whilst I'm selling my creations at my CRZyBest Bar.


The Garage was on my agenda again for the middle of April and did not disappoint! How could it with dogs and beer, being the main call of the day!





I hosted my second successful People, Planet, Pint at The Flowerpot in Derby.


Believe it or not after all that, I managed to squeeze in a lovely break with some friends in Prague. Going abroad for the first time in three years and a couple of doggo's being left back in England with relatives was all taken in our stride and we had a fantastic time. One of my friends had done sooo much research on what pubs to visit, |'m amazed we fitted in visiting Prague Castle and going on a river trip too. We did so much walking over the few days we were there, I can't believe my boots didn't wear out! We got to see so much and try lots of tasty beer though, so yes inspiration and ideas for new creations were flying around in my head, whilst on holiday!



May


An exciting month preparing to open my CRZyBest Shedquarters to the public for the first time ever! But first I had a module to do for Uni, in Responsible Finance of all things, not the most exciting thing I've studied, but I passed!


The Garage was on my calendar again, it's like I can't keep away from the place. I have tried to space out my visits a bit more in 2024.



We had our third People, Planet, Pint, meet up in The Flowerpot and another successful dissemination and discussion about sustainability, beer and dogs!



Derbyshire Open Arts was an absolutely wonderful weekend. It always happens on the last Bank Holiday in May, so it did mean I couldn't do what my friends were planning, but many of them did visit me at my CRZyBest Shedquarters. I struggled to get my head around opening my garden studio to the public for a whole weekend, but after I saw it as a bit of an open house party, my plans fell in place and I felt much better about it. Of course, as my two pairs of favourite words are 'Creativity & Happiness' and 'Dogs & Beer' I had to arrange for a cask of real ale for my Open Studio event. So, with an extra tidy Shedquarters and a firkin of beer on offer to my visitors, you'd have thought all was in place, but no, I also arranged for my friend Amanda from LovLee Cakes to create a special celebration cake, combining her branding, with mine and that of Derbyshire Open Arts. Wow, that was quite a fabulously bright and happy cake! We had a private view opening on the Friday, which helped put my nerves at rest and then we opened at 10am on the Saturday, just waiting for that first knock on the door and dig of the doorbell was nerve wracking, but I soon got into the swing of it and with a combination of friends, relatives, friends of relatives and people who follow the Derbyshire Open Arts trail that I had never met before, it was an amazing weekend and I'm very much looking forward to this years event! Will you be visiting?




June


June had me completing yet another Uni module, this time a 'Single Sheet Business Plan' which was an interesting document when finished, I passed and hoped that would be it for a while.


I hosted my fourth People, Planet, Pint which went very well and planned more of our Sustainability Meet ups for July and August.


Artisans Uncovered was a fabulous inaugural event, put together by Derby Uncovered and held at The Museum of Making. The event was successfully held over two days and showcased lots of talented local creatives, many of which I knew from previous events over my CRZyBest business career and we had a brilliant time. I think we are all looking forward to more like this and many other things that Derby Uncovered are doing to support local creatives and Derby City as a whole. Check out what they are doing with their Community Interest Company!



Talking about supporting and promoting all things 'Derby' I continued Volunteering as a Changemaker at Derby City Lab. Something I was asked to do after winning a Mainframe Award and becoming a Mainframe Champion, I love looking back at the story behind things and how something seemingly unrelated, has made something amazing happen.


Something a bit different, but answering my thoughts of wanting to do something related to my teaching career and Masters Degree in Education. I taught a series of Workshops for Virtual Schools as part of their summer festival celebrating the children they look after and all they have done.


My 'me time' this month was work of a different kind, I like to refer to it as part of my 'hobby' looking after the Real Ale Bar for RIP at Download Festival, Donington.





July


The Derbyshire Makers first Pop-up Shop at Peak Village, opened at the start of July, for two months over the summer and was a brilliant success. Lots of Derbyshire Makers took part and we all helped to staff the shop, I started my Christmas shopping early, which made me feel very organised.



People, Planet, Pint number five, was a sustainable success with a whole variety of attendees, for saying it was basically the summer holidays.


Camping was firmly on the agenda for time with friends and family. We took Barley camping to the seaside in Yorkshire, I went in the sea every day, even Barley did a bit of doggy paddle and we all had a fantastic time. Same again for 2024 please!



August


The Derbyshire Makers Pop-up Shop was in it's second month, with sales going well and some wonderful feedback from our visitors at Peak Village.


People, Planet, Pint number six was a bit quieter as lots of people go away in August. We still had a lovely group of people interested in sustainability and started planning more sustainable PPP meet ups for the 'ber' months.


My Changemaker Shifts were pretty exciting as I was offered the lab to do a Make & Trade take over! So measuring and working out plans were underfoot.




Seaside trips were on the agenda and Barley very much enjoyed running around in the sand.


A weekend off to attend a Music Festival, turned out to be great, with pub visits to find tasty beer happening too.


The Flowerpot had it's annual August Beer Festival, so lots of fun was to be had and inspiration gained. One day, I'll do some creating with all the inspiration I get whilst trying new beers.


September


My calendar meant that Septembers PPP was the week following August's sustainability meet up, we had a concise but meaningful turn out, with free beer for all, curtesy of Krystal.


I was asked if I'd go on BBC Radio Derby for part of Ian Skye's show called 'Your Say....' I'm glad I yes, as it has led to other opportunities. Including being invited to go back and do 'Lunch with Ian Skye' where apart from chatting about me, I got to tell people more about CRZyBest & Friends at Derby City Lab!





I took my CRZyBest bar to the Museum of Making Wedding Fair, which happened to be the same weekend as my sisters birthday and the day before CRZyBest & Friends took over the Derby City Lab, so that was interesting. I plan to be more focused on individual things in 2024...


The majority of September was spent organising and finalising the plans for my City Lab Make & Trade Pop-up which opened the day after the wedding fair, on Monday 18th September and I spent over 120 hours there, until we closed on Sunday 1st October. There is a whole separate blog about 'CRZyBest & Friends at Derby City Lab', it was awesome,,, so much better than I ever could have imagined!





October


We finished and packed up the City Lab on October 1st and then I had a well deserved break, sort of.


It was so nice to be able to send some time back in my CRZyBest Shedquarters and get stuck into some creating and kiln firing. I caught up on things and started building my stock up for Christmas.


The Garage Sunday Market was my next event, right at the end of the month. which made for a lovely smooth transition into Festive Markets.



November


The Ethical Christmas Market was my first actual Christmas event, I had had wanted to take part in this event ever since it started, but I had always been away. This year we cancelled our usual plans, so it meant I could go, yay! It was a great start to my CRZyBest Christmas, I only wish I had gone home and put my tree up, because suddenly time ran away with me and I ended up putting all my decorations up, so late in December. 2024 will be different and I will be organised personally as well as professionally for Christmas this year.



The Derbyshire Makers Christmas Pop-up Shop had it's grand opening on the day of the Ethical Christmas Market, so although I missed opening day, I have had plenty of days staffing the shop since. Peak Village is such a great, dog friendly shopping experience, with it's own nature reserve too, It just needs a beer emporium, alongside the lovely coffee shops.



I took part in and completed another 6 weeks of Green Skills for Small Businesses, to brush up for my business and for help when I'm hosting the Derby PPP sustainability meet ups.



Small Business Britain interviewed me as part of their run up to Small Business Saturday, that was fun and Barley took part too.


Banks Mill Open Studios is a really important event of my year, I used to visit this when I was teaching and do lots of shopping here. 2023 would ne my second time taking part as an affiliate member. Happening over three days, Banks Mill Open Studios is a hive of activity with a whole variety of visitors and potential customers. It was wonderful this year to have people returning for more, as they had bought something last year!



December


The Derbyshire Makers Christmas Market at Peak Village happened the weekend of my birthday and was very memorable because on my actual birthday, Sunday 3rd, it snowed... lots! How fabulous!