Clarise Creary, Morley College London Student

Student spotlight: Clarise Creary

Morley WordPress tutor Fiona Conn introduces one of her students, Clarise Creary, who successfully built her very own website from scratch with no previous experience.

Clarise is passionate about sharing her Caribbean cookery skills and has just completed: Web Design and Blogging with WordPress.com: Beginners course at Morley. She has created a WordPress blog to promote her Caribbean cookery business: Caribbean Gold Blog

What were you doing before you came to Morley and how did you find out about the College?

Before I came here, I made a business plan – I got a loan to develop my initial idea and then I was on my own. I knew I wanted to create a website - instead of feeling like I wasn't doing anything. My sister suggested Morley to me, she said, “this college is good for people with disabilities”. I have dyslexia, and some long-term health issues, so that was important to me. My sister had been a student at Morley. She studied Millinery, and also some Digital Media courses, the College came highly recommended.

I have tried my hand at lots of different roles. My background is in counselling, I'm also a trained playgroup leader. I have done a lot of community volunteering work for people with drug/ alcohol dependency in rehab.

When I was younger, I used to cook Caribbean food and sell it to local shops and clubs, mainly in Hackney. I also ran a food stall in Jamaica. So I have catering and business experience.

After being a full-time career for my mother for 5 years (she sadly passed away in 2015) I was faced with unemployment. I knew that I loved cooking and thought about the love I had for my mum and my grandmother and the time they spent teaching me to cook! I was ready for a new challenge and wanted the chance to share my skills with other people - so I decided to take the plunge and start a business providing traditional Caribbean cooking classes in my own cosy home kitchen here in London or in your own home. My business is called ‘Grandma’s Old Time Cooking’. I also cater for private functions and run Caribbean themed cookery workshops for events and organisations.

I did some research and found that there are a lot of people with Caribbean heritage whose parents don’t have the time to teach them how to make the recipes so traditions are getting lost. Then there are many European people who go to the Caribbean on holiday, they discover just how delicious Caribbean food is, but then find it daunting to try and recreate it for themselves. It is these people that I wanted to share my passion with. Food is a great way of building bridges between generations and cultures, it is something we can all share and enjoy! I said to myself – I don’t care what culture you are! This is just about learning to cook and enjoying the food.

I want to encourage people to find joy in everything about the process of cooking. I will even take them on a guided mini shopping tour of Caribbean grocery shops so that they can have fun and feel comfortable discovering and buying the ingredients. I even give away some of my secret tips – how to make sure you get the freshest coconuts for example!

What were your reasons for enrolling on the WordPress.com for Beginners course? What did you hope to get from it?

I didn’t have much technology experience really but I needed to start thinking about getting my own website to promote my new business. Everything is all about digital media, you have to have an online presence for others to be able to find you.

I began by asking an internet-savvy family member to help me create a simple site, thinking it would all be a bit beyond me. But I soon realised that I was curious, and wanted the independence to be able to create a website for myself, and not to have to rely on others.

I wanted the course to give me the skills I needed in order to create my own site and manage my own content.

The course has totally lived up to my expectations. I am glad that I spent the money on investing in these skills. It’s really helped me to start exploring the possibilities of having my own online platform. WordPress is a great - no-outlay - way of dipping your toe in the water and getting to grips with simple concepts such as: creating posts, image galleries and using design templates. The course gets you thinking about different ways to present your content effectively and how to structure a website with pages and navigation.

Which aspects of the course did you find most challenging?

Creating my own graphics! But even though it was difficult, I have made huge progress with it. I created my own website header using free graphics software. One of the best things is that in overcoming technical hurdles myself, I’m independent of having to ask my tech-savvy family members to help me out any more.

I expected the course to be really difficult because I didn’t have the confidence to know where to start. However, I now know that once you really want to do it, and you’re not afraid to make mistakes, your confidence starts to soar. Working on my site has become the first thing I do each morning; I look forward to it as part of my daily routine. I’m much more relaxed with computers now.

Why would you recommend the course to others?

People are already contacting me via the site. I’ve made new friends and I’ve done something that I thought would be really challenging. There is a lot of satisfaction in that.

If you’ve ever wanted to set up and run your own blog, website or online shop this can be the year you achieve your goal!

Morley runs beginner level WordPress courses that will guide you through the whole process. WordPress is a fun, accessible and community-oriented platform – it’s also versatile and free to use.

Interview from the Morley Digital Team website

You come to realise that your WordPress website is a blank slate for you to personalise and customise, and then share with the world when you are ready - and that is very empowering.

Clarise Creary

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