To my fellow crafters and makers,
I know that Claire, in the past, has been very open and honest with you all about her story, and how she started Claire’s Crafts Create. So, it only feels right that I continue this tradition by telling you about how I’ve ended up behind the wheel of Claire’s business baby (as we called it). And so… from one mother to another…
I met Claire soon after she’d lost her daughter Becky. She was just starting her journey developing her craft business. I was introduced to her by the lovely Debs, from All Sewn Up by Debs in Horncastle, and I’ll be forever grateful for the introduction. Claire was leading her first needle felting course – making Christmas baubles – and she was terrified! I brought my own daughter, Daisy, along with me, and we spent the entire time laughing our heads off, eating her delicious homemade biscuits and pricking our fingers ‘til our language turned blue. We formed a firm friendship from that day, and we shared our journeys and our tales, about our children, our husbands and our businesses – the good and the bad.
I continued to take part in Claire’s various classes, I even began to take classes for Claire. She was always so vibrant, full of fun and full of energy with that amazing smile of hers. My fondest memory of teaching with Claire took place at the Horncastle community centre, we were leading a ‘make your own poppy workshop’ for remembrance Sunday. Only two people had booked a place on the course, and so she never imagined that many people would turn up. That day 250 people made poppies! And so my history with Claire and Claire’s Crafts Create goes back right to the beginning, almost.
In June 2021, I was able to help set up Claire’s dream of a craft supplies shop and workshop space, The Studio. Claire invited Andrew Aspland (from that year’s Sewing Bee) to open her doors, and I had the honour of having him stay at my BnB. You would think that people would come to The Studio, to ask ‘where can I find this wool?’ or ‘what needle do I need?’. But no, they would ask, 'where is Claire?'. This is a testament to the incredible, charismatic woman that she was.
[Above is a photo I took of Claire on The Studio's opening day! And what a day it was, here she is with Andrew Aspland and Debs, the woman responsible for our meeting, and dear dear friend.]
Claire and I developed an amazing friendship, of meeting each other for coffee and cake, we would spend our time always laughing, sometimes so much, that it hurt my sides. She revelled in sharing so many lovely stories of her family, and the joy that her children and grandchildren brought her.
I know Claire won’t mind me sharing that we both had a very big birthday at the end of last year, 2021. We reached that milestone of 60 and celebrated in style on both occasions. We were only a month apart. My birthday present from Claire, I’m sure you can guess, was related to a hobby she enjoyed with a passion, she commissioned a fabulous, needle felted, 2D picture of my favourite (fur) baby, my black Labrador, Wilson. And my present to Claire - surprise, surprise - was also a needle felted 2D picture, that I made of Cherry Blossom - her favourite colour.
[Above is a photo of me blowing out my 60th birthday candles in Claire's shop, The Studio. That impressive mountain of meringues was handmade by Claire herself, and was as utterly delicious! She really was a phenomenal cook!]
At the end of December, Claire approached me about joining the business to help her, she must have known that something wasn’t right. She wasn’t sure what the future would hold for her. Over the coming months eager and enthusiastic conversations were shared about the future of the business. Claire was excited about focusing more on designing, and I was excited about working with my friend, doing the day to day running, and using my marketing background.
At the end of February, Claire was no longer able to run The Studio. So having helped Claire move into the space the previous year, I then helped close The Studio on 28th February 2022.
My own, fabulous, daughter, Daisy joined Claire’s Crafts Create, taking a keen interest in the social media, you may have seen some of her posts and work, featuring yours truly. Being able to work with your daughter is incredibly special.
Two weeks ago Claire was diagnosed with Cancer. And to be writing this knowing that she has now passed away, breaks my heart. Her battle was a short one, which has made her death all the more devastating. My love and thoughts are with her family.
So here is where you find us, without Claire, and with a well-loved business to run. There is a huge void and an empty mug.
I will miss my friend.
I am going to continue what she started. I want to make her proud of us, and the business that she put her heart and soul into.
Thank you for all your support and understanding.
Lots of love,
Lou Lou x