Passion for painting sparks business idea

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WHEN Julie Dodsworth began painting on her narrowboat, she didn’t expect her hobby to turn into a business venture.

But two years after her daughter, Bethany, suggested she might try selling her designs to manufacturers, Mrs Dodsworth has secured 11 major licences in nearly 160 homeware products, which are being sold in more than 500 UK shops and seven countries.

Mrs Dodsworth and her husband Simon, who live near York and have a separate £1m turnover plant display business, bought the boat a few years ago. “We fell in love with all the jobs you have to do when you own a narrowboat and I got into the painting.”

It wasn’t until her daughter voiced her idea that Mrs Dodsworth started to make a list of possible manufacturers and began contacting them.

“I realised immediately the market is dominated by some very successful brands. What I was doing was singing on the street corner and trying to get a part in the West End”, she said.

But 18 months ago, she signed her first licence with Northern Ireland-based manufacturer McCaw Allan.

Now, Mrs Dodsworth sees her products, which range from mugs to aprons, and from stationery to gift bags, sold across the UK and in Japan, Australia, France, Canada, Ireland and Switzerland.

“The biggest thrill is to walk into a shop and see them on sale”, said Mrs Dodsworth.