Creative director Ruthie Ford tells unLTD how Sheffield’s ‘independent spirit’ and ‘creative people’ helped her set up Cloud Nine Décor which today supplies art installations for the videos and tours of local folk-singing legend Kate Rusby – as well as national festivals including Glastonbury. 

I was inspired to start my business by…

Attending music festivals each summer. In 2008 I went to Secret Garden Party, and I was inspired by how much creativity there was there. They were running a scheme at the time where if you bought a ticket, you would receive a piece of art from the festival and one of the artists mentioned they hire out their artwork to festivals across the country.

A couple of years after, I applied to do an installation of giant flowers at the Secret Garden Party, and they were displayed on the Pagoda Stage that year.

After that my business began to build and some of the first installations I created were for a music video with (Barnsley folk singer/songwriter) Kate Rusby.  Since then, I’ve worked with Kate for her Underneath the Stars Festival and I also made bespoke giant snowflakes for her UK Christmas tour.

Over the last few years, I’ve also worked with more than 20 festivals across the country, and I even supplied the art flowers for the Park Stage at Glastonbury.

My favourite thing about running my business is…

It’s great to go and work across the country in all of these different places and get paid to do what I love.

One thing I didn’t expect to enjoy was managing people, but I now have a team of 30-40 installers who work for me on festival sites, and it’s fantastic to see them being creative as a team.

The three words that best describe my business are…

Colour, joy, surreal.

Sheffield City Region is a great place to start a business because…

There’s a really independent spirit in Sheffield and there are so many creative people in the city. You can feel a lot of local support throughout the city and it’s inspiring to see everyone busy with their own creative projects.

There is a great network of people you can ask for advice and support, plus rent and living costs are also relatively cheap, so it is a great location where you can be quite flexible when you are first starting up your business.

In 5 years’ time I expect my business…

To be as it is now but with more variety. I’m currently working on an immersive art show which will be happening in Sheffield next year. The pandemic has allowed myself and Ruby, my partner on the project, more time to research and develop new installations and immersive art in the city.

Going forward, I would like to be doing more projects in Sheffield rather than being away most of the summer at festivals as I want to be around more for my family.

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