My Leigh-on-Sea: Christine Wyatt

June 29, 2020

Today we spent some time chatting with Christine Wyatt, founder of Create98.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a local person, born and raised in Hadleigh, with a short spell living in London and New York. I have lived in Leigh-on-Sea for more than 15 years. Create98 is my second career, my first (for more than 30 years) is as a Management Consultant for (amongst others) KPMG, PWC and finally IBM.

Would you say that you were a creative person?

Well, sort of – I am not too good at painting or drawing but love flowers and all things floristry.

Which classes do you attend at Create 98 and why?

When I was planning the opening terms classes I discovered so many different art and crafts that I never knew existed! Wet Felting was the first one I tried and I am working my way through the others.

Why did you choose Leigh on Sea to start your business?

Because it’s my home and I love it! I felt this town was naturally a very creative and entrepreneurial place so seemed a great fit for a business like ours.

What have you found is key to running a successful business?

It’s key to understand our customers and make sure we are giving them what they want with the best experience possible. We are lucky to have some great Tutors who work with us, and they make the classes so much more than what it says on the tin.

How do you find living and working in Leigh on Sea?

I love it. It’s brilliant to be able to walk to work, and to have all these other businesses and creatives to collaborate with.

Tell us a little bit about Create 98, where can we find you and what do you do?

Create98 is a set of studios on Leigh Broadway, up by the Grand Hotel. We have two studios, a kitchen and garden; and in those spaces we run all sorts of art and craft workshops and creative experiences. So, you can come to Create98 to learn to paint, draw, crochet, sew, cook… arrange flowers. You name it and (hopefully) we do it! With more than 50 tutors that we work with now, it is amazing the range of classes we are running.

Tell us about your 3 favourite places in Leigh-in-sea?

Ooh that is difficult …. I guess the beach, as it reminds me of family outings when I was a kid, old Leigh (as that reminds me of my youth and lots of pub visiting!) and fast forwarding to recently (well pre-covid) sitting outside Corner Club or another of the lovely cafes we have, sharing a cocktail with friends.

Where do you like to eat in Leigh?

With my sister and her family it’s always La Sirena, tasty Italian to suit all fancies, with my friends it’s often a Curry at Shabash or Thai at Manoly’s, but there are so many great places to choose from! John Lawson or Garrards being current faves!

If you could give a piece of advice to a small business what would it be?

Create a plan and go for it and make sure to collaborate with others. We have done great collaborations with The Refill Room, Dressmaker Fabrics, Corner Club and more coming soon - it really helps to get others to know and understand what you do and to pick up more new ideas.

Have you done something in lockdown that you would not normally do?

I have been a more regular yoga attendee with the wonderful Emily practicing at the Anahata Yoga Centre. It’s so nice to have more time to do things like this.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Here! Or maybe New York - I lived there for a while until 2018 when I came back to open Create98. Vancouver is a pretty chilled place to live too…

Finally do you have any new plans and classes/workshops for Create98 which you would like to share with our readers?

Yes we do! Coming over the Summer and Autumn we have the wonderful deb Hart - willow weaver extraordinaire – she delivers workshops around the County, including Hyde Hall, so we are delighted to welcome her here. We also have some great new clay workshops - making bird feeders and rock gardens.

Also for people who are still not able to come out, or not comfortable to come into Create98 just yet, we have lots of classes happening live on Zoom. And we have 20 different craft at home kits - from mosaic and macrame, to ceramics and sewing. Check out the website to get your kit delivered free to your door - ideal as gifts, or as a group activity to celebrate a birthday perhaps, with 5 friends in the garden?

For those coming back to classes at your studio, how are you implementing Covid-19 guidelines?

We are doing everything we can to make the studio as safe as possible and for our students to feel comfortable being here. We have got new furniture in place so that people can sit on individual tables to work, we have reduced class sizes to allow for social distancing, we will be cleaning the studio between classes and have also got lots of hand sanitiser at the ready! We’re looking forward to having people back and are working to keep our students and our team as safe as possible!

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