Award-winning Paignton girl Hannah Perry has turned her business into a pandemic success across the globe

Hannah Perry, the public speakerHannah Perry, the public speaker

A Paignton-born children’s author and artist, now based in the USA, has told how she was forced to reinvent her business to survive the pandemic - and as a result has brought inspiration to her community in difficult times.

Hannah Perry had grown The Giggling Pig art and play studio from a one-room operation to two bespoke sites in her home state of Connecticut turning over more than $600,000 a year - but the coronavirus restrictions put it in serious jeopardy. “Luckily I was already exploring virtual events so I was half set up for it,” said Hannah.

“I managed to adapt the business literally overnight.

“I made classes virtual and free with live Facebook lessons.

Hannah Perrry being interviewed by Channel 8 anchor Teresa DufourHannah Perrry being interviewed by Channel 8 anchor Teresa Dufour

“This gave us an audience that grew from local to worldwide and I’ve just sent out merchandise packages to Australia and Canada.

“We really made a success of the merchandise sales and online classes. If we hadn’t had these things as options we would not be here today.

“The response was at times overwhelming. Families loved what we were doing, they said we were a 30-minute class that gave them relief for hours because the kids just kept on drawing.

“They said the kids would tune in daily waiting for us to start and it was just so amazing to be a part of it.

“We grew our creative community and really made a difference.”

Child therapist Lauren Oslo was one of those who paid tribute to The Giggling Pig’s contribution to the community. “Hannah’s business was an inspiration during the pandemic,” she said. “Hannah didn’t skip a beat when changing over to virtual programs. It was reassuring to see businesses like this push through in the face of adversity.”

Parent Meghan Norman Cole paid this tribute: “Giggling Pig has been an invaluable experience for our family during the pandemic. I’m a mother with two young kids, and I couldn’t be more grateful for Hannah and her amazing staff for teaching my daughter art history.”

Nine year-old Jillian Hoyle is big Giggling Pig fan. “During the pandemic The Giggling Pig has helped me learn different types of art,” she said. “I have been able to meet and share my drawings with other people and make friends virtually. The Giggling Pig not only teaches me about art, but it also teaches me about kindness and friendship.”

Since 2016 Hannah has won three Stevie Awards. They are considered the world’s premier business awards and are presented annually by the American Business Awards organisation to recognise the accomplishments and contributions of companies and business people across the globe.

Two silver gongs for Female Entrepreneur of the Year and Maverick of the Year in 2016 were followed by a gold for Hannah as the 2017 Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

The Giggling Pig also had Stevie successes for best business in 2017.

In 2018 Hannah was also a 40 Under Forty winner alongside 39 other rising business stars of Fairfield County, Connecticut.

“That was cool,’ she said. “I am always learning, I never stop.”

Hannah has had three books published, the latest being Spike’s Magic Glasses. “The subtext is to become better friends and love each other for what we are, and that being different is what makes us special,” said Hannah.

Hannah moved to America as a children’s nanny and went on to become personal assistant to film star Stanley Tucci before starting her own business.

You can find some of Hannah’s virtual art lessons on her You Tube channel. Search for Hannah Perry, find The Giggling Pig logo and click on it for free videos. There are more on The Giggling Pig Facebook which has dedicated sites for both the Shelton and Bethel studios. More information is available on www.thegigglingpig.com