No more Custard!

After many happy years the Creative Launchpad team are very sad to be saying goodbye to the Custard Factory. We are hoping that this will be a short term measure and that we’ll be back in sunny Digbeth again one day – the work on Devonshire House is looking great – but in the meantime we’re moving in with our other Tribal colleagues at our very swish city centre offices on Great Charles Street. I’m sure we’re going to miss coming to work and not knowing whether there’ll be a band playing outside, a vintage clothing sale or a TV show being filmed!

The whole team would like to thank everyone who has supported us in the time we have been at the Custard Factory and particularly to all those creative businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs who have crossed our threshold and made every day different.

CLP – the service

 After two years as creative industries specialist providers in the West Midlands, Creative Launchpad has decided not to continue with delivery of the Business Link start up service. We will still be sending out our newsletter, packed full of opportunities and are working on a couple of projects which should see us rolling out the full Creative Launchpad service again later this year – so watch this space for updates!


Sadly, one thing that be coming with us in the move to our new office is Andy Blakemore, one of our business advisors. However, Andy has been helping people along the tricky road to self-employment and entrepreneurship for such a long time that we’re sure he’ll be popping up again somewhere in the wonderful world of business advice – not so much a goodbye as a TTFN. He has been an asset to the team and will be missed by us all- we all wish him the best of luck for the future.

Solihull and North Solihull

We’re still running our business advice service for businesses, both creative and non-creative sector, in the Solihull and North Solihull area. As always our service is FREE, confidential, friendly and impartial with regular 1-2-1 advice sessions currently being held in Solihull and Chelmsley Wood. So if you are thinking of starting your own business or have been trading for less than 12 months and need a bit of extra support, call Marcus on 07919 413925 or email


Thanks again for all of your support over the past few years and we wish you all the very best of luck for a fantastic creative future,

Carla, Olivia, Marcus, Andy and Jon.


Kings of Neon

We were delighted to hear Adam Duffy has been shortlisted for the ‘Enterprising Young Brits Award’ in the creative category. Adam operates as Looks Can Kill, offering bespoke footwear through his websites KINGS OF NEON and SOLE CREATOR.

I am so glad that this local talent is being shown some appreciation on a national level. Good luck Adam!

See Adam and the other shortlisted finalists HERE

The Diversity Debate

Big, hairy, middle aged Hell’s Angel biker, complete with leather cowboy hat and chapter badges, overheard at Nottingham antiques auction (sounding disappointed);

“I thought I’d get that cake stand for £60…..”


19 -20 year old lad on the down escalator in Primark, to his mate;

“Yeah….I reckon 95% of women are good looking……..”


On platform 12a, New Street Station, two middle aged deaf men talking to each other in very vigorous sign language. Man number one turns his back on his friend and looks down the platform for the train. Man number two carries on talking to himself in sign language!


I love it! It’s stuff like this that makes life worth living (and made Alan Bennett’s whole career). As Louis MacNeice put it in his poem Snow & Roses it’s “….the drunkenness of things being various”


So the next time you are asked for a copy of your diversity policy and you’re wondering whether you really need one, the answer is “yes!” Because bikers will always like cake stands, all women are beautiful and deaf men chunter to themselves.


(For more information on writing a diversity policy go to


– Carla

Thinking about self-employment?

The benefits of becoming self-employed

(or why you should go legit)


You know how it happens. You do the creative thing you love in your spare time just for fun. Your family and friends start to buy from you. The word spreads. Their friends start to buy from you. You try your stuff on eBay or Etsy.  The next thing you know you’re running a business but you’re not quite legal. So to help you take the plunge, here are the top 10 reasons why you should go legit;

  •  If you register as self-employed with HMRC you can offset any costs of setting up and running your business against any business income
  •  If you are also employed on a PAYE basis you may be eligible for a tax refund by off setting any losses from self-employment against your tax paid
  •  If you are working over 35 hours per week and earning under £27k a year you may be eligible to claim Working Tax Credits
  •  If you expect to earn less than £4825 through self-employment in your first year you can apply for a small earnings exemption for you national insurance class 2 contributions and you may not have to pay anything to become self-employed
  •  If you are self-employed and working from home, you can offset part of your household expenditure as legitimate business costs e.g. heating, phone etc.
  •  If you buy any capital equipment like computers, musical equipment etc. which is used in your self-employment, you can offset part of the purchase of the equipment against your tax bill, even if it is sometimes used for personal use.
  •  If you buy any capital equipment before you register with HMRC as self-employed, you can only offset the second-hand value of this in your future tax return and not its full value
  •  You might get caught! The penalty is currently £100. You need to market your business to make it succeed – how do you know you’re not letting someone for HMRC (or their husband or sister) know that you’re trading? And if you’re also claiming benefits then the Department of Work and Pensions will be interested too.
  •  If you are employed and in self-employment too you will probably PAY LESS TAX in your first year if you register with HMRC.
  •  You can get a trade card at Macro and other wholesalers


If you’re not sure where to start call our team at the Custard Factory on 0121 224 7375 and book a free 1-2-1 today

Ian Cook on Blue Peter

One of our most innovative Creative Launchpad success stories, Ian Cook, had a stint on Blue Peter last week demonstrating what he does best- have a peek below:

BBC iplayer – Blue Peter

BBC Birmingham Website – image gallery


– Olivia

Two things made me sad

John Mortimer and Tony Hart died last month. Both were real British characters as well as fantastically talented men whose work gave enormous pleasure to a countless number of people.


The really sad thing about this is that if you submitted a treatment to a TV production company now for either Rumpole of the Bailey or Take Hart, neither would stand a chance of being commissioned. A whole series with a bumbling grey haired old man as the star? Or even less likely, a children’s TV series with a grey haired old man as the star?!


The British population is getting older and we can’t afford to ignore the wealth of talent and experience that older people have to offer. My contribution to kick start the revolution is a tribute to Tony Hart. I’m leaving my grey hairs uncovered and undyed. I’m grey and proud – if it’s good enough for Cruella De Ville, it’s good enough for me.



Exhibiting Workshop

*** Wolverhampton training, 25th February- “Flaunt It!”***

Due to public demand, we will be holding a “Flaunt It!” training session at the Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolverhampton on Wednesday 25th February. Details on the course below:

“Flaunt it”: a knowledge workshop about effective exhibiting

Carla Martinho will lead this workshop drawing from extensive real life experience of exhibitions and trade fairs. Carla will give you practical hints and tips on how to maximise your impact at fairs, exhibitions and trade shows, including information about pre-show press and publicity.

 Email or call 0121 2247375 for more details.