I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about me so that you can understand the ethos behind Doodlebags.
Born in the 1960s in Bexhill-on-Sea, I grew up living alongside a disused steam railway in what was once the Station Master’s house, and had a wonderfully old fashioned childhood playing where the tracks used to be (a little bit like the “Railway Children” perhaps, except there were 4 of us).
With my parents having grown up during the war, they were frugal and didn’t believe in waste: I lost count of how many times my father said “It will come in handy one day” with reference to the tins and boxes of oddments he kept in his shed. My siblings and I wore homemade clothes and hand-me-downs and it’s from my parents that I inherited my love of jumble sales: I enjoy the thrill of finding a bargain in a charity shop or at a bootfair, and I can’t recall the last time I bought anything (other than food or toiletries) from a ‘real’ shop.
Over the years I collected fabrics, trimmings, buttons, threads….all sorts of sewing related items that would “come in handy one day” thereby morphing into my father. I look at everything before throwing it away to see whether it has another use, and I am a fervent supporter of my local branch of Freegle whose aim is to keep as much as possible out of landfill by re-homing unwanted items. Upcycling, recycling, or whatever you choose to call it, is a real passion of mine: it seeps into every aspect of my life and, as you’d expect, is at the core of my business.
I learnt to sew when I was a child and have fond memories of being taught basic embroidery at junior school. The highest level of formal qualification I took in the subject was GCE O’Level needlework, having become bored of the A’Level course halfway through and so dropping out before sitting the exam. Perhaps I would have gone on to study textiles had I continued with the A’Level, but instead I went on to read business studies at Sunderland Polytechnic.
My first job was in London working for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra where I was in charge of the musicians’ payroll. Leaving to join Farrer & Co (solicitors to the Royal Family – I know, very fancy!) led to a move into personnel and then a further in-house move to their IT department where I became Senior IT Trainer.
Leaving work to have first one, then two, three and finally 4 children afforded me the opportunity to develop and refine my sewing skills and techniques whilst making toys, bedding and gifts for my children. Removing the children from the state education system and home educating them for 2½ years was a wonderful experience for us all and activities such as tending our allotment, foraging, cooking and sewing allowed me the opportunity to pass on the idea of sustainable living to my children in the same way that my parents had instilled it in me.
When the children returned to school in 2010 I was faced with the dilemma of what to do with myself and, equally important, how to supplement the household income. With wildly outdate IT skills, the prospect of returning to the workplace was too daunting to contemplate and I knew I would be competeing with countless other women looking for part-time work which would fit around school hours and childcare responsibilities.
It was out of this need that Doodlebags was born.