Case Study: Naomi Horner – My Painted Bear

My Painted Bear evolved from Naomi’s childhood illustrations of teddy bears and characters and has expanded into a product range of cards, prints and

Naomi has always had a creative side and wanted to establish a career in which she could use her artistic talents.

She graduated from the University of Ulster with a degree in fine and applied arts. She exhibited her paintings for many years but the economic recession brought about a decline in the art market and she had to find another outlet for her work.

With limited employment opportunities, Naomi thought about setting up her own business but was daunted with the thought of whether it would survive. With assistance from Carrickfergus Enterprise she participated in its Comet Business Bootcamp and then went on to complete 26 weeks test trading through the Steps to Work programme. The latter gave her the opportunity to test the market and the viability of trading independently. This was important as she had to be confident she would be able to provide for her five-year-old son.

With a strong brand image, high quality product and merchandising, her works are now sold in many craft and gift outlets throughout Northern Ireland. She also has a strong online sales presence and her products have been purchased by customers from as far afield as America, Canada and Dubai.

Naomi aims to continue with this success by breaking into the retail sector on a much larger scale. She is also expanding the My Painted Bear product range further, developing a number of items in fabric and ceramic.

Carrickfergus Enterprise has been a great help to me starting out. I have been involved in a few of its courses that have given me a thorough insight into the world of running my own business. It is good to have a base of support there to bounce ideas off - and be real with me - in terms of 'Will it work?’ I think it is easy to get carried away with dreams when starting out on a business venture. Carrick Enterprise keeps me grounded and is always on the other end of the phone if I get stuck with something or need advice.