Starting out as a hobby, Bridget Telfer would crochet blankets to take her mind off the stresses of day-to-day life. After giving many away to friends and family as gifts, they soon began to accumulate, and she started selling them at a local market, adding to her range with other handmade items like wraps, cloths and bibs. A self-confessed addict to beautiful fabrics, her gorgeous handmade blankets and products are all created with love and packed with care from her home in Gisborne, New Zealand. At Love Always, you will find a whole range of beautiful gifts and accessories for mums, babies and children. Here Bridget talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her business, how she balances work and family time, and the challenges she has overcome along the way.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I was working as a chartered accountant and at the end of the day, I started to crochet blankets to take my mind off the day-to-day stresses. I could still watch TV, talk to my partner, etc, but I had to concentrate just enough to distract myself from the other things I had been dealing with for the day. I used to give these blankets away to friends and family, but I began to create them quicker than I had reasons to give them away and so they began accumulating. I also have an obsession (probably better classed as an addiction) to buying beautiful fabric.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
A friend of mine owned the local tavern and decided she would start a monthly market for items handmade by locals. She asked me if I could please do a stall at the first market to help her out, so I sewed a few smaller items to compliment my crocheted blankets and from there it went a bit nuts.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I’m not entirely sure if I have had a “breakthrough” yet. It is definitely still a challenge and even though I have been doing it for a few years, I still class it as early days. I found some good designers and people to help me with my marketing and getting online, etc. Having some people who I could bounce ideas off has definitely helped.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
This is definitely something I have not mastered yet. We have 2 girls (2.5 years and 7 months), and also own and run a contracting company together. Love Always is still not my main form of work (although some days I would absolutely LOVE if it was). I work in the contracting business 4 days a week. I generally will sew early in the mornings before the girls wake up, as well as on our home days while they are napping. Often the older of our girls will “help” out in the workroom (her new saying is “what are we making today?”) that will allow me to get some prep done for the next morning’s sewing.
Our life is definitely a crazy combination of busy/crazy and just pure chaos. We have a great family support system that help out with the girls when we get extra busy, and help with childcare during the week. Sometimes they might also come and help at markets, etc.
As the contracting business expanded, I began working more and more in the contracting business, and less and less on Love Always. I re-branded and created a new website to only include stock I had on hand (removing the custom order portion). This allowed me to manage the workload of Love Always to fit with the girls and work. It was getting very stressful when there would be multiple custom orders required and then everyone got sick or something happened. While custom orders are still available, they are now done via email or messages so I can control the level of what is taken on, as well as advise customers if the turnaround times, etc, have been shifted.