Case study

Claire R. Zwozny-Bestwick- CRZyBest

Eco Friendly Silversmith & Sculptor · Bespoke Commissions · Ready to buy jewellery, gifts & accessories · Workshops & Gift Vouchers · Craft Kits 

Claire R. Zwozny-Bestwick is an eco-friendly Silversmith and Sculptor who uses precious metal clay to create bespoke sculptures, jewellery, gifts, accessories and alternative bouquets. Claire and Barley (her Jack Russell companion) can often be found at her ‘Shedquarters’ in Derbyshire, where Claire operates an independent, full-time business known as CRZyBest.

A woman in blue top and pink dungarees standing at open, double doors of a large shed

CRZyBest was officially founded in October 2017, however, Claire’s previous education and training had always been centred around creativity. Claire completed a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) in 1999 and became a fully qualified teacher of Art, specialising in ceramics and mixed media sculpture, qualified to teach up to ‘A’ Level. While teaching Art, Craft, and Design at Secondary School, Claire completed a Masters Degree in Education from Derby University, graduating in 2015. During her years teaching, Claire successfully built her final Art Department up from having fourteen GCSE students to over a hundred GCSE and B-TEC students. Claire enjoyed her job and spent hours of additional time running a variety of clubs, including family learning, visiting external providers to find out about opportunities for her students, putting up exhibitions, and hosting meetings for Art teachers from all around Derby.

Close up of silver jewellery displayed on pink stands

Looking back, my extreme dedication set me up wonderfully well for starting my own business. I've always enjoyed combining my interests!

Claire R. Zwozny-Bestwick
Owner of CRZyBest

Claire's silversmithing degree taught her a variety of different processes, including raising, folding, chasing, silver soldering, and piercing. Sculpting has always been Claire’s favourite way to create, whether that be a huge piece that fills a room or a tiny sculpture. Discovering precious metal clay was a game changer for Claire, as it was a perfect combination of her knowledge of Silversmithing and Jewellery mixed with her love of ceramics, mixed media, and sculpture. Running CRZyBest means that Claire is able to utilise the entirety of her education, teaching, and creativity.

In January 2022, Claire became an affiliate member of Banks Mill, which Claire describes as a fantastic, local creative hub for support. Banks Mill offers a hub of creative support, through peer groups, meetings, events, and other opportunities. After joining Banks Mill, Claire became aware of the Innovation Hothouse which is a co-working space and support network at Lonsdale House in Derby. It is a local support network open to self-employed students and graduates from the University of Derby.

Claire decided to become an Innovation Hothouse member in order to gain access to business support and networking events across Derby. Having a local support network has been incredibly beneficial for Claire. Since joining, the membership has helped Claire to meet and network with other local businesses. The Innovation Hothouse has been able to offer Claire support from like-minded entrepreneurs within various industries, as well as helping her to develop CRZyBest further.

The Innovation Hothouse is responsible for hosting the incredibly successful Ask the Entrepreneur / Expert sessions. Taking place approximately once a month, the ATE sessions bring together some of Derby’s most successful experts and entrepreneurs. In June 2023, Claire was a key speaker at Ask the Entrepreneur and vibrantly shared her business experience with the audience.

A woman in pink top and blue dungarees leaning on a sofa, smiling, with arms in the air. Neon pink sign above her head that says Holy Cow

Whenever I give business talks, I recommend that start-ups do their research into what is out there to support them for free before paying for anything. Also, networking at every opportunity, you never know who you might be talking to!

Claire R. Zwozny-Bestwick
Owner of CRZyBest

Currently, CRZyBest is moving along happily. Claire still enjoys creating ready-to-buy and bespoke items in metal clay and other materials. There are new challenges popping up regularly, as Claire is often approached with a request to create something a little different, whether that is a product in different materials, a workshop, or an event. Future plans for Claire involve doing what she does best- and focusing on what is happening now, creating, collaborating, and supporting others!

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