A CREATIVE entrepreneur with a taste for science fiction, horror and fantasy was ‘floored’ when she was given the thumbs-up by a real-life dragon.
Clare Plumbley, who sells her hand-made film and TV memorabilia through her home-based business Clare’s Funk Ware, was given a boost by former Dragons’ Den investor Theo Paphitis when he named her as one of his Small Business Sunday winners.
He sent her sales into hyperspace when he reposted her message about her imaginative business to his half-a-million-plus Twitter followers and featured it on his website.
She said: “I was really not expecting to be chosen by Theo Paphitis – it completely floored me.
“To be selected as one of his winners was unbelievable. I still don’t think it has sunk in properly. The reach and requests I have now are wonderful.
“I feel those hard years of working at local events such as Hamplified and Rugby Bikefest in my early years were worth the rain and cold days!”
Clare’s business had humble beginnings when she started making hair accessories which turned into magnets and customised Lego mosaics.
And now she is feeding the video nostalgia craze with her VHS nightlights – light-up video cassettes enhanced with figures and toys.
“I have always liked to make things,” she told The Observer.
“I started making VHS nightlights during Covid. I wanted to bring back video movie night nostalgia and share memories with my friends and family while everything in the world was dark, miserable and uncertain.
“My family is very geeky with a love of science fiction. We had some toys lying around so I made a Jurassic Park VHS with a T-Rex coming out the front, a range of Aliens nightlights with Xenomporphs, and the classic Jaws with a shark coming out.
“I never thought it would then grow into a small business.”
When she took them to a vintage toy fair at the Birmingham NEC and they sold out in minutes, she knew this was what she needed to do.
“I really didn’t expect them to sell so quickly and to get the feedback I have had. People thought they were fabulous as it was a memory of their childhood – although some parents did have to explain what they were to their kids!”
She has since set up stall at a number of conventions, including Covcon where she came face to face with Robert Englund – who played the fearsome Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films.
Clare said: “Robert loved my Lego frame of him so much, he joked he was going to wrap it up and gift it to his wife for her birthday the next day!”
Clare now hopes to take her business into another dimension on her Etsy store, and by trading her horror-themed Frightlight range at large scale conventions around the UK.
Theo Paphitis said: “My vision is that everyone who has ever won a Small Business Sunday re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club – like-minded individuals who can share successes and learnings.
“The website will also give a valuable profile to the winners chosen and I wish Clare’s Funk Ware every success.”
Visit www.theopaphitissbs.com for more information about Small Business Sunday.