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Creative Scale Up – Plenderleith Scantlebury

Plenderleith Scantlebury installation at Spike Island
Image credit: Max McClure

Plenderleith Scantlebury (PS) was created in 2004, at Spike Island in Bristol. The company are specialists in art fabrication, mould making and casting experts.

Over the past 20+ years, Mark and Lisa have built a strong reputation in the creative industry, bringing their passion for creating exceptionally high-quality artworks, whatever the scale, to exhibition, public display and private commissions. PS work nationally and internationally for clients, including artists, curators, arts organisations, museums, photographers, advertising agencies and creative companies.

Over the past six months, the Creative Scale Up programme has enabled PS to focus mainly on their business operations, refine systems and strengthen their offer to grow the business confidently.

How has your business grown or developed since joining the programme?

We’ve grown so much by being on the Creative Scale Up programme. We were more than ready for the opportunity to develop and grow our business. Before we started, we were confident in what we could offer – the highest quality specialist art fabrication – and so for us, the opportunity on this programme was to build upon our strong reputation as experts in making by developing business operations that could support that. The latter was the part we didn’t feel like experts in when we started this.

We have focused on improving all aspects of our communication: how, where, when, why and what. We are also grateful to have received additional support to work with freelancers to redesign our website and branding and make videos to communicate our story better. We’ve mainly focussed on the customer journey during this time and have put systems in place to make it clearer, better communicated and more transparent. We have implemented booking systems, templates and automation to help things run more smoothly for everyone involved. Enabling us to be quicker to respond, and we are now more confident in the delivery of what we offer.

Working with coaches and mentors has also enabled us to realise that we are passionate about sharing our knowledge and expertise. As a result, we are developing resources, tools and tips on our website to share with emerging artists. We are also developing a programme that will enable us to support students and graduates to become the next generation of art fabricators. It’s an exciting time for us!

Which elements of the programme have you been involved in and what has that support meant to you?

We were keen to make the most of this opportunity, and so we engaged fully in all aspects offered to us on the programme: mentoring; peer to peer sessions; professional training workshops; and we received a Business Support Grant for developing our website, branding and design, and commissioning a 'Talking Heads' video for our website.

Taking part in the training workshops and being alongside peers in the creative industries has been an enormous source of support and camaraderie. We have benefited from a vast pool of knowledge and experience along the way and make new contacts in the region.

Working with coaches and mentors to identify our vision and goals and analyse and improve specific areas of our business has been such a game-changer for us. Jodie Marks, Linda Brothwell, Karen Drake and Ceri Hand provided us with invaluable support to examine, explore, and implement changes to strengthen and grow our business both in terms of customer experience and best practice back of house operations. We couldn't have done this on our own, and we're so grateful for these professionals' support and accountability in helping us stretch and grow. It's an investment we're keen to continue making in our business in the future as we understand now how valuable it is for our growth.

What challenges does your business face and what support are you getting from the Creative Scale Up programme to help you to overcome these challenges?

The challenges we faced before this programme were in confidently communicating what we do. Looking back, it’s like we were whispering into the wind.  Through support on this programme, we have become much clearer and confident about communicating our business, what we do, who we work with and where we are going. We now have systems in place to support that.

What is the most valuable aspect of the Creative Scale Up programme for your business?

Working with mentors and coaches has been hugely valuable. It has enabled us to clarify the broader requirements within our business, the additional support we needed and how to get there. It’s not something we could have done on our own. It has given us a wider perspective on our business and strengthened and improved the customer journey.

Why are programmes like Creative Scale Up so valuable to businesses like yours?

We set up the business because we are creatives and love making, but without any business knowledge. This programme has helped us develop skills and raise our awareness around running the business more effectively and efficiently. Being able to draw upon experts' skills has helped us identify what our business needs to prosper, which then enables us to get on with making.

What’s next for your business?

As part of our desire to grow our offering and share our knowledge, we are currently developing a scheme to offer internships and placements to creative students and graduates.

We will continue to work with coaches and mentors and get business support to enable our continuing growth and development, streamline our systems, and free us to make more ambitious projects with established artists and organisations.

What are your business’ aspirations/ambitions for the future?

We are ambitious to grow our business to help even more creatives realise high-quality artworks. Our focus going forward is on working with galleries and mid-career artists across the world on ambitious projects.

At the same time, we are passionate about supporting the next generation of fabricators by sharing our skills and knowledge. We have plans to team up with education establishments, such as The University of the West of England, to support students and graduates in developing their making skills with us. As part of our growth, we will also expand the roster of freelance makers who work with us. We want Plenderleith Scantlebury to be known as a hub of creative connections and skill-sharing - through making the highest quality artworks.

The support we’ve accessed through the Creative Scale Up programme has enabled us to draw upon skills and expertise around business operations. By capitalising on improved systems we’ve implemented during the programme, we will invest in office support, freeing our time for even more high-quality making.

What makes the West of England region a great place for creative businesses?

Well, firstly, the location is excellent. It’s so beautiful around here - surrounded by sea, hills, countryside AND it’s accessible by transport systems. It’s such a wonderful area in terms of culture, lifestyle, being well connected. There is space and opportunities to be creative and lots of exciting histories. The West of England feels full of creative businesses, more than ever, so it’s possible to cater for needs here and further afield.

What do you think is unique or special about the Creative sector in the West of England?

It’s buzzy. It feels energetic and energised. This vibrancy could be to do with being surrounded by creative people who want to be here in this beautiful place. There is much more available here now than previously, so there is less need to look further afield to places like London. There is a sense of a better opportunity for life balance, with more people choosing to live and work here rather than commute.

Describe the creative sector in the West of England in three words?

Exciting. Vibrant. Capable.

How important is it that we get people from different backgrounds working in the creative industries?

It’s essential. And there’s much more to be done. Everything that everyone brings to the table is significant, so it’s essential to make sure everyone is represented.

Why would you recommend this region to other businesses in your sector?

This region is a magnet for the creative industries. It has never been so vibrant in the South West. Innovative companies and people surround us, and it feels exciting to be here. It feels like a hub for creativity and business, where we can draw on the skills of other creatives in the area. It makes things easier and feels supportive.

How has the region helped your business to thrive?

We’re in an accessible and well-connected location. We’re close to Cornwall and Plymouth, as well as London, the Midlands and Wales. As other creative businesses move to these places, we can connect with them and thrive.

"It’s been invaluable to us, and we’ve made the most of the expertise offered through the programme."

Lisa Scantlebury, Founder

Want more information?

To find out more about the support we offer for the creative sector, please visit our West of England Growth Hub website - Growth Hub website