Describe how you are feeling RIGHT NOW in three words?
Optimistic, thoughtful, excited.
What's the story of your creative business?
I was a Textile Design lecturer at The University of Manchester, specialising in Knitted Textiles. After having my second child, I began to find the commute into the city, running a University degree programme in a changing Academic environment alongside looking after my two girls was not working, so my husband and I thought it best if I left my career in June 2013.
However I wanted something to keep my mind active, and as a creative with a Textile Design degree and years of experience teaching machine knitting, I started thinking of what I could do to utilise my design skills whilst enabling me to do the school run and look after my 2 year old.
As a teenager I had learnt to crochet, and although I hadn’t practiced in years, I quickly worked out and perfected motifs suitable for girls hairclips and hairbands. Two perfect aged in-house models also made trialling products easy!
My parents bought me a second hand knitting machine and I had a clear idea that I wished to create bright, retro, two coloured jacquard cushions. With this, Little Knitted Stars business was born, creating hand crocheted and machine knitted accessories to wear and for the home.
I spent time carefully photographing my first collection and then launched my etsy website. I sold my first accessories in May 2013, not long before I left my lecturing position, and I have become busier month on month.
What are the best things about being a mother running a creative business?
The best things about running my own creative business is being able to do something I really enjoy, utilising my design skills whilst being able to work around my kids hectic lives!
I can make products when my children are at school and playgroup, or in the evening when they are asleep, and craft fairs tend to be in the evening or weekends.
And the worst?
The worst thing I believe is that you never switch off, and tend to work long evenings, particularly in the run up to the busy Xmas period.
You also find that you are working approximately full time hours for a lower income than a full time job. However this is cancelled out by the satisfaction of running your own little venture.
Tell us about the most difficult day you faced and overcame as a creative working mama
The most difficult day I think I’ve had so far, was when I had promised to deliver a cushion to a client in the afternoon, and had given myself the morning to sew it up and add the buttons whilst my daughter was in playgroup. This should have given me plenty of time, but disaster struck when I could not get my sewing machine to work properly!
I was trying very hard not to panic and luckily managed to locate a repair man who happened to be the area that morning (extremely lucky!).
It turned out that my machine was just fine and that operator error was the culprit – I had not threaded it up correctly!!
So luckily I ended up only slightly lighter in the pocket and redder in the cheeks, and the cushion was completed for the following morning to a happy customer.
What advice would you give a mama starting a creative business?
My advice would be that if you wish to get rich quick then this is not the route for you.
However if you have a creative eye and a good concept, and are happy to spend a lot of time perfecting ideas and producing products then this is a wonderful thing to do.
What are you working on right now that you're most excited about?
I’m currently working on a lot of heart based ideas for Valentines day and also working on ideas for personalised motifs which could help me break in to a new market. I’m also forming ideas for some new knitted cushions which is exciting!
If there was a Creative Working Mama Fairy, what would you wish for?
That’s easy - three more hours in the day!
To get in the spirit of this month's activity, the lovely Kate has also shared a fabulous Best Foot Forward photo for us!
She says "The left one represents me as a mum doing the school run, and also me in my business mode, when I am manning a market stall. The other is when I have the chance to take a little break, glam up and go out!"
If you have a dream of becoming a creative business-mama yourself, you might also like to find out more about our partner in this series this month: Mum Plus Business - a network supporting local mums to form business partnerships.
What does being a creative business-mama mean to you?
If you'd like to share your story with us, we'd love to hear from you.
You can read other guest interviews in the Creative Business-Mamas series here.