Woman Of Action – East Devon Jelly Founder Lou Turley
By Stella Nicholls
Photography by Nick Hook
“The Secret to getting ahead is getting started,” Mark Twain
Louise (Lou) Turley, is the founder of East Devon Jelly and owner of her own Graphic Design business, Tiny Designs.Having previously worked all over the world as a Scuba Diving instructor and freelance designer, she strikes me as someone who is not afraid to try her hand at anything.
On chatting to her, I found a strong, adventurous spirit, who loves the ocean, and as passionate as she is about travelling is equally as dedicated to helping people. Lou is a ‘doer’, someone who will step up and try her best to make positive changes to the world. A woman dedicated to making things happen – a woman of action.
We recently met during lunchtime at a bustling Boston Tea Party where we discussed Rugby, Scuba Diving and everything in between. Lou had just returned from an ‘eventful’ Girls’ Rugby weekend and is happy to report that Sidmouth Girls’ Rugby has come along massively in recent years and grown exponentially. She came home from the weekend, tired but satisfied that a good time had been had by all. She added that fifteen girls on tour are a ‘whole different kettle of fish’ to the Under 12 boys’ team that she is usually involved with.
I asked Lou how she became involved with running ‘The Jelly’ events in East Devon. She explained that after moving back to the UK, becoming a mum and setting up her business Tiny Designs, her circumstances led to her moving down to Devon as a single mum.
She began missing the camaraderie and team spirit that is normally found working in an office environment, and it inspired her to start a non-profit networking event to get to know other business people in similar circumstances. She said,
“I couldn’t do any of the traditional networking events, the evening ones or morning ones. At the time there was a lot of focus on ‘suits and boots’ morning and evening events, so I decided to set up the Sidmouth Business Café.”
It was around this time that she started hearing more about the informal co-working Jelly events where people are encouraged to network and collaborate. She also found that there were more and more freelancers and micro businesses attending her Business Cafe. People would come to draw on her expertise, or to find a website developer or someone to offer them advice on start-ups and the like, so she decided to find out about setting up a Jelly in Devon.
The Jelly was originally a New York concept established in 2006 when two freelancers, frustrated with the solitude and drawbacks of working alone, decided to invite a group of freelancers to their apartment. They asked them to bring their laptops and work together, calling it a ‘Jelly’ as they were eating jelly beans at the time. Simple!
Lou’s dream has grown from running one Jelly in Honiton to five, with Jelly’s dotted around Cullompton, Exeter, Exmouth and Sidmouth, as well. She says she never knows what to expect at a Jelly event, which are each held once a month – people don’t need to book, or pay to attend, just drop in. Lou joked that the most memorable thing she’s learned along the way is to juggle! But she wouldn’t have it any other way, she is passionate about helping people, especially start-ups and watching small ‘kitchen table’ ideas grow into fruition. A couple of years ago, Lou was nominated for a Venus Award and this was a real high point for her, not so much the fact that it was a Venus Award but the fact that she had been nominated by people in her community who showed real appreciation for the work she is doing.
With all the ‘juggling’ needed, I wondered what Lou does to unwind. Without hesitation, she replied that paddle boarding along the coastline is an absolute ‘necessity’ in aiding her rest and relaxation. She says it’s her place to switch off and zone out, where she can be herself – her sanctuary. With two sporty children, she finds that many hours are spent ‘pitchside’ – her son playing county cricket and her daughter rugby, and as much as she loves being involved, she relishes the moments where she can get out to sea.
She also likes to take a few weeks out each year and has just come back from a week in India. She loves to travel, exploring the world, and says that ‘her feet itch terribly’ after living in the tropics for years – her wanderlust never quite sated.
Lou always encourages her children to reach for their dreams, saying, “You are only going to regret not doing it, you’ll never regret doing it.” She smiled at this point and said that she thinks they ‘get it’. She continued, “I’ve lived by that and I think it’s rubbing off on them as well.” Grab the opportunities that life presents.
She described her parents as being the most influential people in her life, supporting her through every aspect. Her mum encouraged her free spirit and her dad always grounded her by saying,
“Do that, just make sure that you have the grounding to come back to.”
As for the rest of 2019 and what the future holds? Lou’s spirit of adventure shone through as she smiled and replied that she will remain open-minded about what comes and will see where it takes her.