New specialist store goes all out for gorgeous gifts and novelty products

Designs by Dawn has just launched at Stonham Barns Park retail village to bring a range of quality hand etched glassware gift products to buyers from the region. 

The business which has been three years in the making is the result of another creative concept formulated over lockdown.  Dawn Tudor – a mother of three and now grandmother of six granddaughters and one grandson – admits she can never sit still.  Bubbling with energy, she discovered that she had a flair for creativity that could not be suppressed. 

With time on her hands during the pandemic, Dawn began turning her hand to various crafts to keep herself busy when not working.  She ordered a glass etching hobby kit online and her journey began.  Says Dawn, ‘It was hit and miss to begin with.  I had to have a few attempts at it but it was so relaxing that I knew I wanted to become accomplished at the art of etching and here I am now making a business of a former hobby.’

Dawn, who lives at Newmarket and who had previously worked in hotels, the care sector and for a while in school transport for children with special needs, explains: ‘I didn’t ever know exactly what career path I wanted to follow when I was growing up and so I worked in a number of sectors while raising my children.  It gave me a lot of life experience and made me realise that, ultimately, the strongest skill that I possess is one of creativity.’

‘One of my first commissions was to etch a special glass for a friend for a 50th birthday.  I think we were both surprised at how beautiful it was and from there I started to take the whole subject of glass etching more seriously.’

Dawn began to take over the house with her ‘workshop’ as she increased her output of beautiful glasses, vases, fruit bowls and ornaments.  Her partner kindly installed a garden ‘studio’ for the operation, and it became a small business, with sales coming from a round of craft market stall bookings around the Cambridgeshire area, including locations at Huntingdon and St Ives.

Sales then began to come in from different areas of Suffolk including from Newmarket and towards the coast from places such as Saxmundham.

The idea from the pod at Stonham Barns Park has come from the thought that Dawn wanted to engage with other creative retailers and be a part of a leisure destination venue. 

‘I am so excited at the prospect of an outlet where I can work on my designs on computer and then translate them into etchings for customers.  I love to create the designs and personalise the etching to the customers exact needs. I once etched a beer tankard for a European customer to replace one that his father broke accidentally bearing a family crest.  The son told me that his father cried with happiness to have it replaced!’

The designs are made in small batches, some are commissioned.  Dawn has even made the glassware for two weddings – etched bridal party glasses and hurricane lamps to decorate the wedding tables.

‘I love the fact that my work is so mixed.  All of the glassware seems popular for gifting and the other gift and novelty products I produce are often bought for their originality.  I like gift and home products to be different, outstanding and it seems my customers do too!’

Dawn also stocks a range of hand-crocheted scrunchies, printed tote bags and T-shirts and mugs to make customers smile.  Humour sells and I do like to source fun products to sell.  One of my favourite children’s messages reads … My Mum Says I’m A Little Madam.  My Gran Says You are Just Like Your Mum!

She concludes, ‘I had no idea that work could be so much fun until I started the business.  It’s so rewarding to make a living from something you love, and people are buying more gifts locally to find more creative pieces. I just wish I had started the idea sooner!’

For further information contact Dawn Tudor at Designs by Dawn on 07889 690 855.

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Stonham Barns Park is a bustling family complex offering accommodation, attractions and activities based in the heart of Suffolk, UK. Activities at the leisure, retail and holiday venue include The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, Café 24 Restaurant, Legends Sports Bar, The Golf Centre, The Teapot Pottery, holiday lodges, a caravan park, camping and glamping and fishing lakes.

Stonham Barns Park has been serving the community of Suffolk since it first opened in 1987 and is still as much a family destination as it was when it first opened, and it is now becoming a more prominent part of Suffolk tourism which is growing exponentially year on year.  Stonham Barns Park itself welcomes many visitors from all over the UK – particularly from London, the South-East and from as far away as The North and Scotland.