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Former Rolls-Royce Engineer Sarah Is Crafting Out a New Business for Herself as UK Sees a Boom in Creative Arts and Crafts

By Emily Peagram 09 Mar 2021

From painting to felting, sewing to crocheting, the coronavirus pandemic has seen a boom in people getting crafty.

And one woman from Derby has taken the seemingly unlikely step in swapping a successful career in engineering for crafts; launching her own business in which she hosts creative workshops and produces craft kits for enthusiasts.

Sarah Hodgkinson, mum to four-year-old Theo and Rose (2), set up Crafty You, Crafty Me in July, taking voluntary redundancy from the aerospace division of Rolls-Royce to pursue her dream.

And the 37-year-old has been inundated with orders from across the UK for her felting kits, mosaic packs and online craft sessions.

“The mosaic packs have been really popular,” said Sarah, who lives in Hilton with husband Phil and their two children.

“I’ve sent packs to Brownie groups in Newcastle, a Guide group a little closer to home and will be felting a yogi sloth with a yoga class, who have been using craft kits in their online sessions. I have a wide range of individual craft kits and the party kits, which families and groups can do together over platforms like Zoom, have been hugely popular.

“I currently host virtual workshops and, once the lockdown rules in England are eased, I’m planning on outdoor classes followed by indoor ones later in the year. I ran some very successful outdoor workshops in my local park in Hilton last year and also at Tutbury Castle and we had people come from all over the county; from Swadlincote and Matlock – it was fantastic and the feedback I received was so positive.

“I’m keen to ensure that we play our part in caring for the environment and therefore our kits come in eco-friendly packaging and wherever possible we use sustainable materials and minimise the use of plastic. For example, our felting mats are made from recyclable materials and we use a range of kraft card boxes and cotton bags in our packaging too.”

It seems like quite a diverse change of career for Sarah, who studied engineering at Loughborough University before joining Rolls-Royce in 2006.

But the two are, according to Sarah, quite similar.

“The general product design, so how you take an initial concept and turn it into an actual product are pretty much the same,” she said, “and crafting a final design from individual parts uses a similar logic.

“For example, the felt penguin kits we make, when you break them down, are made up of a number of shapes assembled together bit by bit to make your penguin.

“I find crafting really therapeutic; it’s great for mental wellbeing and I find nothing more relaxing than crafting in an evening or creating felt animals – as long as you don’t stab yourself with the felting needle!”

Sarah’s love of crafts began at an early age and she would frequent the wool shops in her home city of Bristol and, later when she moved to Derby, Wren’s; the family business which has been in Allenton for more than 45 years.

She jokes that there is a long-standing family debate over who taught her to knit, aged six, but one thing she is certain of is how her fledgling business can thrive post-pandemic.

Crafty You Crafty Me has already been tipped for success by Marketing Derby – the public-private organisation which aims to raise the profile of the city and county - being named one of the highly-commended businesses whose innovative idea stood out among hundreds of entries for their annual ‘Rising Star’ award.

And earlier this week, they were shortlisted for a Mainframe Derby award, too.

Their wide range of craft kits – from mosaic coaster kits which the whole family can get involved with to the sewn heart garland and bunny felting kits which form part of the Mother’s Day range – come with step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process.

“The kits we produce are perfect for beginners of the more intermediate crafters,” she said, “with lots of different crafts available, there really is something for everyone.”

To make a purchase or book one of their craft sessions, visit www.craftyyoucraftyme.com