Catkin Crafts was born out of a passion for arts and crafts and all things creative combined with a desire for a well-balanced healthy lifestyle. As an experienced primary school teacher, this is the story of how I went from classroom to craft room...
Throughout my childhood, I could often be found drawing pictures, writing stories or with my head buried in a book. As a huge fan of Tim Burton, JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, Phillip Pullman and Neil Gaiman, you could say I was obsessed with all things fantasy. I grew up drawing and painting characters from my favourite stories or imagining my own narratives and landscapes.
After studying A level Art, I developed a love of children's book artwork and went on to complete a degree in Illustration. During my university studies, I looked in more depth at the inspirations of some of my creative influences (Burton, Blake and Smith). It is still my goal to one day write and illustrate my own children's book.
A Passion for Education
I also loved to learn. I have always been interested in fostering a similar love of learning in others so I secured a job as a teaching assistant after completing my degree.
During this time, in addition to working as a freelance illustrator, I also began offering private tuition in Maths and English. I soon went on to qualify as a primary school teacher, taking on extra responsibility as head of science, head of computing and eventually becoming part of the management team.
In 2018, after 8 years, I made the decision to leave the classroom but I continued to tutor privately for some time. I also wrote for Teach Primary magazine and CGP workbooks on multiple occasions as well as sharing my educational resources on TES. You can read more about this on my teaching blog, missbritton.co.uk. I will forever have the utmost respect for those in the teaching profession.
The Importance of Self-Care
Whilst teaching, I often burnt the candle at both ends working into the night planning lessons and marking books and getting up at the crack of dawn to prepare resources. With the children in my care being my top priority, my friends and family soon brought it to my attention that I wasn't looking after myself. I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself and found my anxiety levels increasing over time and I just didn't feel like me anymore.
Self care is not selfish.
You can't look after others without looking after yourself first and foremost. It ultimately benefits those closest to you too as they want to see you happy and thriving. To take control of my work-life balance and to look after my mental health and wellbeing, I took the leap and resigned from teaching. I remain passionate about education and I now feel that it is my duty to share my story and educate others about the importance of self-care.
A Birth Story
(don't worry, not that kind...)
In January 2019, our daughter Willow was born. She is my pride and joy and I absolutely love teaching her about the world. At this time, it became more important than ever that I look after myself in order to be a good role model to her.
After my maternity leave, I returned to private tuition but soon realised that this was not for me. I was still spending a lot of time planning lessons, and going out in the evening to tutor meant I was missing Willow's bedtime and on top of this, I was still finding very little "me time".
When the pandemic hit in 2020, I stopped tutoring and spent more time doing arts and crafts in order to occupy my busy mind. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed art and creativity. I made cards for friends and family as this was therapeutic and a good way to spend time whilst also being a great way to share our love with those we could not see in person.
I started Catkin Crafts as being self-employed would allow to me to work flexibly while still caring for Willow at home. She is a huge inspiration to me. Her fun-loving, care-free attitude is infectious. I hope to be an inspiration to her too.
The brand name is even inspired by her. Although I'd love for her to be involved with the business as she grows up, I don't want her to feel any amount of pressure so avoided using "Willow" in the name. Instead I chose "Catkin" as these grow from Willow trees and I feel this business has grown from her. 🌱
With huge thanks...
Firstly, Catkin Crafts would not be where it is now if it were not for the support of my friends and family, particularly my amazing husband Tom Cash. Thank you for being so incredibly supportive, for inspiring me on a daily basis and for listening to my endless ideas for cards.
Thank you to everyone who has supported my business on social media by sharing, liking and commenting on my posts as well as those of you reading this very blog post.
Last but certainly not least, thank you to every single person who has bought from my little shop. Every purchase means a huge amount and I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful reviews. It really is true that every single sale at a small business makes the owner do a "happy dance".