Meet our April Maker of the Month Ruth Lester. I’ve known Ruth for a few years, we actually met at a pole dancing class, which was way more fun than it sounds and then not too long after I found out she spent her spare time making gorgeous felt badges, and bunting, and cushions and I was hooked on her little business Lottie Loves. This small business is run out of Ruth’s home in Lincolnshire, and sadly for her (and all of us) she has had to press pause due to Covid. Like so many of us, the strains of being at home, home schooling children and trying to renovate her Victorian country home means she doesn’t have the time. Fingers crossed it won’t be too long before the doors of Lottie Loves open again. Luckily for us, she found the time in between baking banana bread and teaching English to her two beautiful children to chat to us….enjoy x
So Ruth, how was Lottie Loves born?
I started Lottie Loves a bit by accident – I’d just had my second child and decided to get crafting. I thought I’d applique a design onto a cushion for my mum for a Mothers Day gift. I posted a photo of it on Facebook and lots of friends then asked if I could make one for them and that’s where it started. For a good while I just made for friends or friends of friends, posting photos of my makes on social media. Lots of people said I should make it official and advertise properly online but it wasn’t for about a year or so that I was brave enough to create my Lottie Loves Facebook page and sell to actual strangers.
I love the name, where did the idea come from?
The name is completely daft…. My daughter is called Scarlett. We gave her the accidental silly nickname of Scarlottie-Bottie and that’s where Lottie comes from – a little nod to her. She’s now seven and we still call her that!
Have you always been a Maker?
I’ve always loved Art, I loved it at school and looking back regret not doing it for A level and further. Throughout my 20’s I went through a phase of not doing any crafting at all really. My husband and myself started property developing and so my skills extended to decorating. My mum bought me my sewing machine as a birthday present just after Scarlett was born but I had never sewn before then. I had to YouTube how to thread it up. Fabric is currently my go-to craft but that’s partly because I’ve been so focused on Lottie Loves. I always enjoyed sketching and throughout lockdown my husband and I have been avid watches of ‘The great pottery throw-down’. Id love to have a go at that one day.
The changes and sacrifices we’ve all had to make during Covid have been tough, and you’ve also had to close the doors of Lottie Loves for now?
I decided to temporarily close Lottie Loves after Christmas just because it was all getting a bit too much. The first lockdown put a lot of things in perspective. I’ve been incredibly lucky that so many people have liked what I make. But with that came a pressure to meet all the orders I was receiving. This often meant I didn’t spend time with my kiddies or help my husband with the renovation as I was busying away in my sewing room.
It was a really tough decision to close and I do miss it. The pleasure of making the items and knowing they were well received definitely means I will be back at some point. But at the moment Im taking a breather to be able to home-school, do my normal ‘day-job’ and help renovate our 160 year-old house. There are only so many plates a person can spin!
Many of our Makers, thrive off the mental wellbeing they get from Making, have you missed it and what have you been doing to fill the gap?
So what I’ve been doing in the meantime is baking banana bread like the rest of the country and making a start on all the projects I had put aside for myself that I’d not had chance to do. I’ve had a go at hoop hand embroidery which I love. I also started making a dress for Scarlett and of course lots of house painting.
What inspires you in your designs?
Inspiration for my Lottie Loves makes start with the customer. They have a recipient in mind, or a space in their home and they tell me colours or interests and we go from there. Each piece I make is individual. I only make to order and have a go at anything. I love making ‘pretty’ girlie items but equally I’ve made rugby themed cushions, a monster-truck driving dinosaur cushion and one for an ice hockey fan that headed off to Canada. It was great making all of them. The hardest orders are probably family pets just because the likeness is so important. I’ve also completed a few commissions making blankets and cushions from baby clothes and making that first cut into those precious clothes always makes me nervous!
We all love to hear about all the times us Makers, make an oops. Can you tell us what yours was?
The biggest oops moment was possibly when I made a cushion for a wedding gift and posted a photo of it on my page before it had actually been gifted. The bride was following my page so saw her present before she’d actually received it. I got a little message from my customer asking if I could quickly take it down, but the surprise was spoilt!
Is there anything else you’d like to add to your Making CV?
There are lots of ideas flying around my head that Id love to make but haven’t yet. I always meant to take my designs and apply them to tote bags, I feel like that could be the next step for Lottie Loves. I also got a needle felting kit for Christmas which I need to have a go at and I’d really like to get more into making clothes. I lack confidence in this but would love to do it more.