Kate Heath and daughter Darcey
Founded by Kate Heath in 2013, Crafty Kate specialises in bespoke toy boxes. Kate designs and hand-paints all the boxes, while Mike heads up the production team and Sue looks after orders and admin.
“The idea of starting my own business came about in late 2010 whilst I was on maternity leave following the birth of my son, Alex. I found the first few weeks of motherhood a very daunting time indeed and I know I’m not alone. I felt my capable mind had suffered a relapse, and I couldn’t focus on anything. I had no memory and found my routine utterly shot to bits by this little pint sized person who was now centre of everything. It wasn’t until at least five months in that the hazy fog started to clear. I was anxious not to have to go back to my job, battling the commute into London every morning and leaving precious little time with my baby.
I had always wanted to work for myself, so it was about this time that I decided to give it a go – to build and create something from scratch. I love shabby chic décor – hearts, gingham, distressed furniture, rustic looking twiggy things – so I decided to start selling hand-painted signs, cushions and the like at a local market in Hertford. I spent £120 on a rusty stall frame from ebay and then went to one of the biggest trade fairs in the UK where I spent £600 on stock – scary for somebody on maternity pay.
It took about two months to get set up, but finally my first market day rolled around. That first morning trying to put my stall together in the dark was such a nerve-racking experience. After a slow start, a lady approached my stall and told me I had the prettiest stall on the market. Her name was Elaine and I shall never forget how relieved I was the moment she put her hand in her pocket and I made my first sale. Thank you Elaine.
After braving three chilly winters on the stall, I realised that my bespoke toy boxes were my biggest seller so I decided to concentrate on them and work from home. Nearly three years on, my business is growing every day. My toy boxes appeared in VOGUE magazine’s Dream Nursery feature last year; I have a proper workshop in Ware; and I’ve employed the wonderful Sue and Mike to help me out.
I owe a lot to a lady called George Petrucci, my very first toy box customer. Thank you George.
I am now proud mum to not one, but two beautiful children, with the welcome addition of my daughter Darcey in 2013. Juggling everything can be challenging, more so after Alex was diagnosed with Autism in 2014. We work closely with a registered charity called PACT (Parents And Children Together) for Autism. We donate our toy boxes to the Harlow branch’s annual charity fundraiser ball and are always stunned by the excitement they generate and the amount they raise (£1,750 last year!).
Alex is the happiest, sparkliest little boy you could ever wish to meet and I am so proud to say I’m his mummy. I started this for him. My boy. If he can look life’s challenges in the eye and brush them off, then I’m sure as hell I can.
This is still the hardest job I’ve ever done and there are times I’ve wanted to give it all up and cry into my paint pots. But you shouldn’t listen to negativity. It’s so toxic to a positive mind. Believe in yourself and never give up.
This is my business. I created it. And I hope above hope I will continue to make it grow and flourish. If it doesn’t, at least I can say I’ve tried. Surely not trying is the biggest regret of all.