A Lithuanian mother-of-four has begun her first business venture in Hartlepool.
Jolanta Narsutiene, 46, is selling handmade clay pottery which she has imported from her homeland.
And as she settled into life as a businesswoman, she admitted: “I’d definitely like to expand and have a presence elsewhere in the region too. What I sell is unique and I get so much interest in it.”
The newly-opened venture Cosy Crafts is just weeks into operation within the Hartlepool Enterprise Centre where she moved to after starting up in the Indoor Market.
Jolanta has lived in England for eight years and described how her love for Hartlepool developed.
She said: “My husband Dainius got a job offer from the Peart company in Hartlepool. He came first, settled here and then all the family came over.
“It was not very easy for me at first.
“I used to work in a tempered glass factory, making bottles for wine and my husband had a job there as a supervisor.
“My husband got a job and he asked me to come over. I couldn’t make a decision straight away. We had a two-week holiday and then I had 12 hours after that to make a decision.
“It was very difficult as Hartlepool is so different but in the end I made my decision and I am happy now.
“People keep asking me why we chose Hartlepool but I like it. I like the people.”
She described her homeland as “a very nice country”. She added: “It is a small country but the people are very proud and hard-working.”
She said Lithuania was a very modern place with high standards everywhere.
In comparison, she described England as a country where all the buildings try to compete with styles and originality.
She added: “When you go to the areas where people live, the buildings are very different. I do like the way that heritage is preserved.”
Jolanta explained how she came to start up in business. She said: “I am a creative person. I like to knit and crochet and most women do in Lithuania.
“I thought about taking it to a different level and making a business out of that.”
To prepare herself for the world of UK work, Jolanta began by taking up courses in England on civil engineering. She tried to find a job but to no avail.
But advisers then told her to consider self employment. “I mentioned what I did as a hobby and the things that we have in Lithuania,” she said.
“I put my pottery items on the table and they encouraged me to start thinking about taking it up as a business.”
Jolanta turned to the Hartlepool Enterprise Centre for advice. She said: “I was really surprised at how much support there was.”
She joins a whole host of hidden treasures in the Brougham Terrace facility, including a pre-loved clothing emporium, two photographers, wall art specialist and jewellery repair specialist Clockworks, who also sell everything from chutneys to Yankee Candles.
Jolanta, who lives in the Stockton Road area with her husband Dainius and their two youngest children, said: “The Enterprise Centre is a great place to be in because it is like a little community and everyone helps everyone else out.
“The people in Hartlepool like to support small businesses where they can and there’s free parking and lots of lovely businesses to look around.
“ I’d urge anyone who hasn’t taken a look inside before to pay us a visit, we’re always happy to meet new customers.”