Hi There, I'm Abi

An intuitive, abstract painter originally from Bristol and founder of Oil & Oak. I now live in the beautiful Borderlands between England and Wales with my Husband Paul and our newest arrival, Lillian.

It wasn’t long ago that we were living the city life, balancing full-time jobs whilst trying to start and run our creative business.  I was pulling pints during the week and doing markets at weekends, wondering if the hard slog of it all was worth the little time I had left to paint. 

Deep down I knew that it wasn’t. I hardly saw my husband and I had zero time to actually create anything new. It was only when I was painting and creating that I felt that spark. We had to make a break for it and dive into the life we’d always wanted. For me running a creative business is less about the hustle and more about heart. 

Why Hay-on-Wye? Because we love Hay. I’ve been coming here for summer holidays visiting family since I was a child and my Husband Paul and I came frequently on camping adventures. In Jan 2020 we decided that we’d had enough of city life in Bristol and made the move to Hay-on-Wye. We’ve never looked back, the best decision we’ve ever made. 
What made you start up this business and what type of education or experience helped you to open/run/manage this business? 
I’ve been working as an Abstract Painter for over 10yrs and also a curator in Bristol for the past 8 yrs, where I’ve supported artists and makers through exhibitions and events. Over that time I’ve cultivated many artistic relationships and I truly love working with artists and creatives. I’ve always felt art should be accessible for everyone, be that through the sale of affordable artwork or the provision of creative workshops. Art is good for the soul. Opening a Gift Shop & Gallery where we supported local makers, crafters and artists was a natural evolution for me. 
What are some of challenges you encountered? 
Juggling starting a new business alongside being a first time mum to a now 18month old was challenging to say the least. I’m so grateful for all the support from my husband Paul and my wonderful mum Carole, I couldn’t have done it without them. My mum, a recently retired community mental health nurse, loves working in the shop, something that I really didn’t expect, but it’s lovely to work alongside her. 
What do you wish you had known before you started? 
That it would be alright. It’s a huge gamble starting your own business, especially in a new town, in the current climate and with a small bubba at home. Most days, I just wanted someone to tell me it was going to be alright and a success.  
Is this the first business you have launched? 
This is my third creative business, the first was my own art practice which I started 10yrs ago. I was so lucky growing up in Bristol, a real artistic hub of a city. It was here I also created a social enterprise and art collective called Tribe Aisthetica, which I still run. We hold exhibitions, events, markets and workshops in Bristol. It’s main aim is to support artists in whatever stage of their career they’re in with affordable events, low commission rates and community meet-ups. 
Any advice to new businesses in this area?
Take the plunge. I’ve been blown away by the amazing support of our local community and fellow business owners, thank you all so much.