When award winning theatre and comedy writer Perditta Stott, moved back to her home town of Okehampton, she looked for a local writing workshop, aiming to re-immerse herself in Dartmoor’s creative community. Upon realising that there were none in her local community, Perditta solved this gap in the market by launching her own creative writing hub Moor Imagination in November 2022.
Just five months later she has sold out numerous workshops at Okehampton Library, is teaching on our very own Women in Business programme and has truly integrated herself and Moor Imagination into the local creative and small business community. BIPC Devon talks to Perditta about the power of networking, the importance of libraries as hubs for local business support, and the story behind the ongoing success of Moor Imagination…
For someone that doesn’t know what you do how would you describe Moor Imagination?
Moor Imagination is a creative writing courses hub, based in Okehampton. I offer workshops on creative writing, how to be a writer, how to get through writers block, how to get started and writers resources in general.
We started our first workshop in November 2022, so we’re still quite new. And we started really really small, and then our last workshop sold out so it’s grown quite quickly! I started it because I am a writer and as I moved down here, and I thought it would be nice to do a writing workshop. I had a quick google and there was nothing in the local area, which surprised me, because Dartmoor and Devon is such a creative area. And I thought to myself, well I’ve been doing this in London and just because I’ve had a baby there’s no reason why I shouldn’t do it down here.
So you started it just after your kids were born?
Yes, I’d just had my second daughter and initially, I thought I’d start my business when they were a bit older, but I just thought why wait, I can do it now, as the kids spend a lot of time sleeping!
What was your background before? You mentioned you were doing creative writing workshops in London?
Yep, so I’m from Okehampton originally. I was actually born and brought up here. I did a degree in creative writing at Falmouth University and then I went travelling and settled in London. I started interning with a few theatre companies and started writing for the stage. I had a few plays put on and I also put on a comedy theatre group (Kitten Killers). We took our plays to the Edinburgh Festival, Brighton Fringe Festival and transferred to London a couple of times. We got nominated for a few awards, and generally I just cut my teeth writing for theatre, which is quite a good way to start writing because you have an absolute deadline. You have to meet that deadline! Then I started doing workshops and facilitating those, and when I moved down here, I thought this was a nice opportunity to bring my love of teaching and writing together.
What have been the challenges that you’ve faced so far, even though you’re so early in your business journey?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is the obvious one, trying to do things around small children, I have a three year old and a now five month old. I’m very fortunate that I have lots of family to support me and a very supportive husband. But alongside that, I think for me the big thing is when starting your own business you have to teach yourself everything new. For example, if I want to make a flyer for my workshop I have to teach myself how to use Canva, and what looks good on a flyer. It’s all those things when your starting a new business, sometimes people think that you have lots of people working for you and that’s really not the case. You are doing it all by yourself, everything that customers see has been made by you the business owner, and are usually things that you’ve had to teach yourself to do first. So now I am doing it all by myself, I have huge respect for any new small businesses and I really want to give my support to them because I recognise how much of your own personal time goes into that because it’s nobody else, it is just you!
I suppose that you might have been familiar with that entrepreneurial spirit after years of producing your own theatre – how did these previous experiences help you when starting up?
Oh yes, you absolutely do all of that yourself too. I definitely came into it with a few skills already. I’d already side stepped into free-lancing, I was producing back when I’d just had my first daughter – so that was a bit hectic! And then we moved back to Devon, so I’d already left my job to have my baby and move back here, so it was very much a fresh start. It was a case of looking at my skills, looking at the gap in the market and looking at what I thought people need, and yeah that’s when I thought well I can write and I can teach and there is nobody teaching writing in the local area and I think that’s a shame.
And if somebody wanted to start up their own business in the same way that you have, are there any top tips that you’d recommend?
Absolutely. Go to your local library and see what resources are there! BIPC Devon have been so supportive and I can’t recommend them enough. I think if you are starting your own business you’d be very foolish not to tap into your local library and see what free resources are there. And I think get to know the other local businesses, because Okehampton is a small community – actually most communities are really, even in London you’re still part of a borough and that’s still just one small part of Greater London! Just get to know who your neighbours are, get to know the other small businesses, we all want our Highstreet’s to look good and people to spend their money here and make the town lovely!
What can customers expect from your workshop and where can we find out more?
A lot of people think that writing is a serious business with a quill and ink, but it’s a welcoming space for all. I like to start off with a silly game to loosen people up, then we move onto writing exercises – none of which you have to share, you can keep them private. You’ll leave the workshop with practical skills, having had an enjoyable time and hopefully will have made some friends! You can keep up to date on our website and follow Moor Imagination on our Instagram (@moorimagination), Facebook and on Eventbrite.
Alternatively you can come along to the ‘Unlocking your Creativity’ workshop I am running as part of the BIPC Devon’s Women in Business programme on the 17th of April at Exeter Library or online!
Inspired by Perditta's story?
We’re incredibly proud to have supported Perditta in her small business journey, and we want to help you too!
Okehampton Library hosts a Business Information Drop-In session every month and is always available for one to one’s with trained staff who can guide you through our vast array of databases, resources and more all available to you for free!
Whether you are already an established business owner or are trying to find out how to turn your passion into profit, we can direct you to the information to best serve you.
By Isabel Flynn