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Claire Hall, Devon with Kids

Award-winning travel blogger and digital content professional Claire Hall says that coworking has helped her branch out her business interests over the last couple of years.

She has been blogging for more than a decade through her Tin Box Traveller website which is one of the top-ranked family travel blogs in the UK.

Claire started her freelance career a couple of years after moving to Devon in 2015. With a background of more than 20 years in journalism and public relations, Claire set up her own business to support others with content for their websites and social media, while continuing with her travel blog.

Over the last couple of years, Claire has also developed her Devon With Kids website, as a natural progression of her travel blog, which had started to feature more and more of her family’s adventures in Devon.

She says: “I decided to go freelance mainly to work around my family. Working for myself was a really good idea for me and my family; it gives me flexibility, work-life balance and I’ve never looked back.

I used to travel quite a lot pre-pandemic but because that’s been more restricted in recent years I decided to start writing more about what we were doing as a family in Devon. That spun off into my Devon With Kids website which has grown from there really.

Devon With Kids helps families to find things that are interesting to do, places they may not have discovered themselves, whether they live in Devon or are visiting the area.

There are lots of websites available that tell families about all the wonderful things to do in general, but very specifically people want to know whether they can take a buggy or pushchair somewhere? Is it going to be easy for small children to visit an attraction or is it designed more for older children? So I try to give them that information which helps them as a family to have the best days out and experiences within the county.”

Claire first met Stacey Sheppard, the founder of The Tribe in Totnes, through the blogosphere – initially not realising they lived near each other. After making the connection, coworking at The Tribe has opened up a world of endless possibilities for Claire.

“When Stacey was setting up The Tribe she gave me an opportunity to go somewhere different,” says Claire.

“I was finding working at home quite isolating, just sat at my desk in my kitchen with all the other everyday things going on at home. As a creative person, I found that just changing the environment I was in really great for my work. I came to The Tribe and I was suddenly able to do more and also network with other people.

There are people I knew I needed; l needed a photographer and an expert in Facebook advertising to support my work but I didn’t know where to start finding those people. But Stacey is the ultimate black book for our community and has contacts with people who know how to do all sorts of things.

Even if I didn’t know I needed support with certain things I’ve suddenly found myself connected with a wealth of experts from business accounting to creative industries that support what I do.

A lot of the people I’ve met through The Tribe have actually become involved in my business. Photographer Claire Gillo has provided product photography. There have been so many collaborative opportunities that have come out of being connected to and working at The Tribe.”

One of those collaborations saw the development of another new venture for Claire, with a series of three colouring books being produced from her Devon With Kids website.

“My colouring books would not have happened if it wasn’t for this coworking space,” admits Claire.

“I wouldn’t have met the person who sparked the idea for the first colouring book, who was somebody who runs their own accommodation business in Dartmouth. They wanted a colouring book to give to their guests and we were chatting and I thought I could help with this, using my experience in writing and producing publications for businesses.

We got together, came up with a plan, found an illustrator and some other connections and the Dartmouth colouring book was created. Since then I’ve also created a Devon colouring book and a South Hams colouring book.”

Enabling businesses to collaborate was one of the main reasons Stacey Sheppard established The Tribe for female entrepreneurs in 2020 and joined the Devon Work Hub network last year.

Stacey says: “Around the time I was setting up The Tribe a review came out from NatWest Bank, commissioned by the UK Government, that described five barriers female entrepreneurs face when trying to start and grow businesses, and it was the barriers we’ve all experienced, such as childcare responsibilities, awareness of risk and a lack of awareness of funding available, which are all obstacles that hold us back.

I figured if we had a coworking space where we could all come together to create a network for all of these women working at home alone we could help one another overcome those barriers.

We see a lot of women who are solopreneurs in our Work Hub who work for themselves. They’re not necessarily looking to grow their business into a large team but they’re trying to make their business a success. Some have found funding to take on projects they wouldn’t ordinarily have been able to do, or some have found coaching or mentors to work on issues holding them back.

It’s not so much about growing into huge corporations but they’re growing their confidence, skillset and they’re awareness of what help is available out there to help them grow their business.”

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