Hello everyone! I’m Claire and I blog at claireabellemakes about craft, my business and home city of Cambridge. Hannah is someone I consider a friend and I am inspired by her on a daily basis, so I’m really excited to be here today to share my story.
I’ve always had a crafty streak dabbling in knitting, cartoon drawing, scrapbooking and letter writing as a child.
I started out as a dancer, dreaming of being a ballerina like Darcey Bussell. I went to University to study contemporary dance and graduated with a job as a Bollywood dancer and instructor! Not what I had thought I would do, but it was great fun and an exciting creative outlet.
In 2009, I decided to go back to school and study for a Masters in Arts Management. Dance, Theatre, craft and the creative industries were always present in my life and I wanted to know more. It was tough. I worked 10 hour days in London, took lectures for 3 hours in the evening and commuted for 3 hours every day. I slept for 4 hours and got up and did it all over again the next day. Knitting on the train was my saviour for those two years!
After I graduated, it felt like a natural moment to evaluate my achievements and explore my passions. Crafting was still there in the background. I quit the commute, got a job in Cambridge and used my free time to indulge in as many creative pursuits as possible. I learnt to crochet, participated in craft swaps and threw myself into the online world, finding amazing crafty types awaiting me. I joined a local WI, had creative picnics and arranged crafternoons with friends.
I started my blog claireabellemakes in April 2012. Blogging gives me creative focus, is a great outlet to share my makes and interact with likeminded people. It has enabled me to find my true passion which I never thought I would discover.
Crafting has shaped me as a person these last few years and given me a welcome distraction from health issues including IBS and chronic migraine.
I am so thankful to have a hobby and passion I can enjoy from home. There are days when I can’t face doing anything at all, but I know craft will be there to build me back up. Picking up my crochet hook or glue gun on those down days allows me to escape and unwind. I’m grateful for the creative outlet and focus to provide me with a welcome distraction.
A huge part of my passion has been the people I have been inspired by. Twitter was a revelation for me – I was astounded at how many likeminded people were out there sharing, chatting and inspiring others. Finding these people and discovering small businesses in the handmade world gave me the inspiration to begin an Etsy store for Claireabellemakes. A business I could work on from home in alongside my full-time job would be hard work, but I was ready for a new challenge.
It has been rewarding and the support I have received has been fantastic. I never dreamed I would have made online sales, have my work stocked in real life shops and have people following my ramblings online! I can’t wait to explore the next steps and grow my creativity.
The most valuable thing to me in this journey has been the people I’ve met along the way. The friendships, connections and discoveries I’ve made have been amazing and I know a lot of them will be for life.
The creative world has allowed me to find myself and it seems I am someone who enjoys granny hobbies, tea and yarn. I don’t mind that one bit!
I must say thank you to Hannah for inviting me here today. I hope you have all enjoyed hearing my story.