Company Name: Lovely Pretty Little Things
As a child growing up in a military family I grew up in a household where my Dad was often away and I missed him terribly. in those days I went to bed with his T-shirt and a photo under my pillow. I was lucky that my Dad didn’t ever go to Afghanistan or Iraq but he did go to Bosnia, and it was a worry for the rest of us left at home.
The situation faced by forces children nowadays was what led me to make my first memory Keeper. l was introduced to a charity called Scotty’s Little Soldiers who help support the children of those who have lost their lives in the theatre of war. The charity really struck a chord with me and I decided I wanted to help support it.
A friend of mine, who has 3 little girls under the age of six was going out to Afghanistan and so my first bear was made for his little girls out of his shorts and T-shirts. I have since had requests for bears made from baby clothes, army uniform, blankets and even the scarves that belonged to one lady’s late husband. I have found that a bear made from familiar clothing can bring so much comfort to others.
What inspired you to start your business?
My company really started by accident! When my nephew was born 6 years ago I put together a box of goodies for my sister with all sorts of things that I thought she might find useful. She loved it! 4 years later she had my niece but she already had all the things she needed for a new baby so I had to get my thinking cap on. I came up with the idea of a Nappy Cake after doing some research and she loved it! After that whenever a friend had a baby they wanted a Nappy cake and eventually that led to me making them for friends of friends and later selling them.
I then got talking to a local florist who wanted to stock them and things went from there. The next thing I started making was sock cup cakes. Having spoken to lots of friends they said you didn’t get many essentials as gifts so never had enough socks and bibs. The cupcakes went down a storm, made from socks and bibs and they look so good they are often mistaken for real cupcakes! Moving on from that I started stitching cards and making quilts and then I made a sock rabbit for a friend which resulted in lots more orders for sock animals. This then evolved into someone asking me to make a bear out of her daughters babygrows and the rest, as they say is history! I knew there were people out there who made stuffed animals from babygrows and I do make a lot of these but I wanted to expand the possibilities and do something to support a worthy cause. A friend of mine became a coordinator for an amazing charity called Scotty’s little Soldiers that raises money for children who have lost a parent in conflict. It is a fantastic cause and very close to home. So I decided to donate money from each bear sold to support Scotty’s. I have made bears from all sorts of fabrics and for all sorts of reasons from army and RAF uniforms for children who’s Dad’s were going out to Afghanistan to give them to snuggle up to while Daddy is away. I made a bear for my Mum to chear her up when she was diagnosed with Cancer and I used my Dad’s ties, tshirts and pj’s from my brother and sister and clothes from myslef and neice and nephew. All the clothes had special meaning and make the bear that bit more special, I used my neices dress that she wore for her first Christmas, a jumper that I knitted for my nephew when he was born, my brother’s climbing tshirt. When she looks at that bear she sees all of us and all of those happy memories. I have also made bears for people who have lost somebody close to them. One was a particular challenge as my client wanted a hat to be incorporated so I used the hat for the tummy! Another client wanted me to incorporate a pair of gloves as her Dad was a Mason when he was alive so I used the gloves to make a heart on the tummy! I am about to make a bear from a bridesmaids dress and another from a first communion gown so the list of what can be used is endless!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the fact that what I make is so personal and can bring so much comfort. It is also a lovely way to keep a memory close to you instead of keeping something in a drawer. The bears make a great gift for Grandparents too, what a gorgeous and unique gift!
What has been the best moment of your business?
Realising that I could turn my hobby into a way of making money and being able to use my skills for something so precious.
What are your business plans for the future?
I would love to start a family so my aim would be to be able to run my business full time so that I could work from home
Can you give us a ‘Typical day in the life of….’?
I work full time for the MOD so my day starts with no breakfast (I’m not a morning person!) then a day in the office. After I finish work I come home and get to work on Lovely Pretty Little Things. I try to cut out a number of bears in one go, label them all up and then get on to sewing. I always aim to stop at 9 but often find I am distracted and before I know it, it’s bed time! I spend time every day interacting with people on social networking sites. It’s great fun and there is also a lot of support out there from other small businesses.
My boyfriend works away a lot so I try to get bear making done while he is not here so that we can spend out time together when he comes home.