TAKING an evening class to learn pottery skills led to an IT project manager moving from keyboard to kiln.

Lisa Lowe worked for big Swindon-based businesses like Zurich and Nationwide before she discovered a new hobby that would change her life forever.

By transforming a shed in her back garden into a workshop filled with all the supplies and equipment she needed, Lisa started her own business Ooh Lovely Lilo Ceramics that is still going strong a decade later.

The Adver spoke to her as part of its ongoing campaign to support small businesses this Christmas.

The 52-year-old said: "The name came from what people said when they saw what I was making, so many of them went 'Ooh, lovely!', it made me laugh.

"I took the classes as an escape from work and got hooked, then built up more equipment like the kiln and potters wheel and decided to just go for it full-time.

"It's something I love because you can turn a ball of clay into anything. I've had a fair few disasters and things blowing up, you never stop learning.

"Word of mouth and social media have helped a lot. I've done markets and fairs, and started teaching lessons, and the business was becoming popular."

Lockdown put a stop to that and Lisa has not yet set up a website so she currently relies solely on social media to drum up interest ahead of the festive season.

Luckily, loyal customers and her nearest and dearest have rallied to help her during this difficult time.

Lisa added: "It all ground to a halt, it was awful. I was working on a Christmas fair with other artists which we were so excited about but it had to be cancelled because the venue was too small for us to be safely spaced apart, and the Steam Museum event isn't happening.

"I enjoyed going to markets regularly because for the rest of the time, you're just on your own in a shed. It's been very tricky and I was so demoralised, I didn't know what to do.

"But it's not all doom and gloom. Friends, family, neighbours and customers have got in touch to order things from me, which is brilliant, I can't thank them enough

"And those who had booked lessons are happy to wait until lockdown's over, which is lovely.

"It seems like people have been making an effort to contact small businesses and be supportive of their community - long may that continue.

"One positive is that this has given me the breathing space to make new ideas that have always been in my head, like oil burners, wallflowers and postcards.

"It's been quite a journey but I'm still making things every day and staying positive."

Visit Ooh Lovely LiLo Ceramics on Facebook and Instagram or email oohlovely@hotmail.co.uk

THIS is part of the Adver’s latest We’re Backing Business campaign to support small independents around town this Christmas.

The second lockdown has forced shops to close during what is usually their busiest time of the year and lose out on weeks of vital trade.

Promoting these companies’ online delivery or takeaway options will hopefully help them to survive through to the end of the year.

We are keen to shout about long-standing mainstays or newly-formed small businesses, whether they’re set up in hubs like the town centre and Old Town, nestled around Swindon’s outskirts or based entirely from a home office.

The campaign will highlight different local employers in the Adver every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for the next month – or longer, if England’s lockdown is extended beyond December 2.

If you would like to be featured in this campaign, please email daniel.angelini@newsquest.co.uk or call 01793 501734.