They say that you need a story to help sell your brand and yourself. I've always struggled to know what my story was...until this week!
I was interviewed by Jacob Jarvis from Sour Media for the Sir Thomas White Charity who first helped us launch our Company, and while answering his questions I happened to mention that I needed to work from home due to an illness.
His little ears pricked up and he asked if I would mind explaining a bit more. I don't mind sharing about what happened to me. As the article and Radio Interview touch on, I suffer from Clinical Depression and was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2008.
I don't fully understand what happened to me or if it was a combination of a serious issue of bully at work and the endometriosis combing to make my life hell! Whatever is was, it left me unable to continue in my teaching career and due to the increasing pain, unable to work. Following the birth of my second son in 2009, I suffered my 1st relapse of depression. I hadn't realised what it was at the time, and convinced myself I was fine. Until the crying started. I could cry at the drop of a hat! I could look at a mug and cry! It felt silly! I was also extremely snappy with my family. I can't remember much of that period of my life, sometimes being forgetful has its perks! But i know i went back to the doctors and was put back on the antidepressants. When you are on these tablets its hard to fell anything -or explain it. But it's like being numb. If someone told a joke - I might not even laugh.
It was in our quest to try and earn more money to help pay the mortage off that Andrew, my husband, had the great idea "well, you can sew - surely you could embroider with one of those machines" while looking at ebay, and the many individuals selling personalised goods.
I was working part time for my father-in-law, but wanted to do something else. So embroidering different items seemed a good idea, and going back to something creative gave me a little buzz. Something that had become almost a distant memory but is completely at the core of who I am.
I have always been creative, I was brought up with a Grandma and mother who are fantastic seamstresses, my father who had been knitting since the age of 3yrs! (no joke!). So it was completely natural that by the age of 7 I was happily sewing clothes for my dolls and making all sorts of cuddly toys - even having a go at designing my own patterns!
But at the beginning of 2010, after trying various tablets and treatments for my endometriosis and reacting badly with the side effects, to the point of loosing a lot of my hair, my husband and I made the decision for me to have a full Hysterectomy. I can't say it was a difficult decision. We had been very blessed with our 2 boys, and although I longed for a little girl, my past history of miscarriages had shown it wasn't going to happen. And when given the choice of an almost pain free life or forever wondering if I'd be pain free - I didn't have to think twice.
Although the hysterectomy wouldn't cure me, it would certainly help to remove the main culprit of the pain - my womb. And if I am completely honest - it was the best decision I have ever made (apart from marrying Andrew!). It hasn't been clear sailing, having this type of operation at 35 meant having to take HRT and go though other challenges with my body. But I still believe it was the right thing to do.
During my recovery, we looked for second hand embroidery machines, and started to research things I could personalise. I made my first personalised Memory Box for my Cousin-in-laws Wedding. They were delighted! This led to doing gifts for friends and family, then I started to look for fairs to sell my embroidered items at. They were 1 or 2 days here and there so not too time consuming and I could fit them around my family. My products , developed a range and found products that sold really well. Ruck sacks, towels, bears...and rag dolls.
And there the story of dress a doll starts...
I'm still learning how to control my depression. Last July I suffered with my 3rd relapse. (each time they get worse). But this time, I haven't let it consume me. It was the problems in the business that nearly killed me. But it's also my passion for my Rag Dolls that has saved me and kept me going. I love what I do and I know these little bundles of joy can bring happiness, comfort (and the odd cuddle) to those who love them.
Please read the article for Sir Thomas White Charity by Jacob here
And listen to my Interview with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester here (go to 1hr 10 min into the programme)