Many moons ago, before the very first Rhiwbina's Handmade Market and the creation of Little Otter Markets, I used to volunteer for the charity Whizzkidz and organised the Caerleon craft fair. And it was back in Caerleon that I met my lovely friend Lise Jacobsen aka Tommelise Danish Design as she was one of my very first stall holders.
Originally from Denmark, Lise now lives in Wales with her family and she has become a familiar face at Little Otter Markets due to the popularity of her oilcloth range. Lise launches new products every season and I am amazed at how hard she works, juggling her fulltime job with her handmade business. She is always so accommodating to commissions and produces beautiful high quality accessories every time.
Ahead of Mothers' Day this Sunday, I asked Lise to tell us a little bit about her journey in to motherhood...
When did you become a Mum?
I almost became a Mum on my birthday, but had to wait an extra day as Robert decided not to come out. He was born in 2006, so he is now a proper teenager (both in age and mood). I love being a Mum, my son makes me proud every day and surprises me when I see what he can do.
How do you find juggling family life and your own business?
It can be hard juggling being a mum with sewing and making on weekends as well as working, but I have one day off every week, this is when I make most of my wares.
What advice would you give to new Mums?
My advice would be: Don’t fill every day with activities, take it easy and have a pyjama day once in a while. Make stuff at home and enjoy - they grow up so quickly!
To find out more about Lise and to browse her range, head to her directory page.
Textile Designer Lynda Shell has become a regular face at Little Otter Markets showcasing her fantastic collection of bags and accessories. Lynda's journey began at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, in 2001 where she studied BA (Hons) Contemporary Textile Practice. She then went on to establish her own successful business, becoming a Member of the Makers Guild in Wales, whilst looking after her growing family.
Ahead of Mothers' Day on Sunday 31st March, I asked Lynda to tell us a little bit about her family and how she has found motherhood...
When did you become a Mum? Hattie was born in 1996 and is now 23, Freddie was born in 2007 now age 12 - so a big 11 year gap!
How has motherhood been for you?
I have loved being a mother, it is both the hardest and the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
Was it what you expected?
To be honest I didn’t have any preconceived expectations of motherhood I have always just gone with the flow.
What have been your biggest challenges?
I don’t think I have had one big challenge, every stage of a child’s development into adulthood and beyond brings a new challenge to face, you just deal with them as best you can and move on.
How do you find juggling family life and your own business?
Well it's not always easy but I somehow make it work. I think it's good for my children to see me work hard at something I feel passionate about, hopefully it will inspire them to do the same.
What advice would you give to a new Mum?
Trust your natural instincts to guide you, there are no hard and fast rules to being a mother, just do what feels right for you.
What do you enjoy the most about being a Mum?
The smiles, the laughs and the cuddles for sure!
To see more examples of Lynda's work, and to find out how to get in touch with her, please visit Lynda's directory page.
I first met Aquila Cook from Love and Lovelier back in 2013 when she applied for a stall at the very first Little Otter Market in Rhiwbina. Shortly after that, I booked on to one of Quil's workshops and had a go at making my own ceramic Christmas decorations. The workshop was a lot of fun and provided me with a chance to get to know Quil better.
Quil is amazing. Not only has she created a successful business from scratch but she has done this whilst looking after her two daughters Sasha and Erin, who both have Cystic Fibrosis. It is a daily struggle for her juggling their care and her business but she never lets this show on market days and her professionalism is flawless.
Ahead of Mothers' Day on Sunday 31st March, I asked Quil to share with us her journey in to motherhood and to talk about the challenges she has faced....
I became a Mum when I was 27 in 2006 - that took a bit of working out! We were living in Lanzarote at the time and the whole process of pregnancy and birth in a foreign country was not one I'd like to repeat EVER! So Erin who is now 12 was born in Lanzarote and then almost four years later Sasha was born in Wales.
I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Sasha when we found out that Erin has Cystic Fibrosis. In Wales CF is tested for in the 'heel prick' test in newborns. But every country tests for different things depending on what they feel is most prevalent, so it was un-diagnosed for three and a half years in Erin. CF is genetic, so there was a a 1in4 chance that Sasha would also have it. When she was tested after birth we found out she too has CF.
Prior to having Sasha I had a well-paid (but boring and un-inspiring) office job. I never went back after my maternity leave. I started a evening course in Ceramics just to get out of the house for an evening, and after a while I started looking for somewhere to sell my pieces, and Love & Lovelier has taken off from there.
CF is tough because there is a heavy load of daily medication and physio that needs to be adhered to. Erin takes about 40 tablets and 5 nebulised medicines a day, and Sasha has about 25 tablets and 3 nebulised medicines. Also Erin has regular in-stays in hospital for IV antibiotics. Each stay lasts about two weeks and they are every three months at the moment. Try holding down a regular job with all that going on! I've made L&L fit round this crazy life but it's still tough at times. There simply isn't enough of me to go round sometimes.
The best thing about motherhood is seeing your kids blossom into their own characters. Erin's really emotional and gets really excited about things and equally quickly gets anxious and worried. There are no grey areas with her. She is so kind and can't stand any kind of meanness or cruelty at all. Sasha is hilarious and will definitely be treading her own path. She doesn't care what others think of her and takes it all in her stride.
Advice for new Mums: whatever you think it's going to be like, it'll be much better and much worse. Get ready for a roller-coaster ride! You'll get through the bad times and wonder what all the fuss is about in the good times.
To find out how to get in touch with Quil, please visit her directory page where you will find all her contact details and more examples of her work.
Nothing makes you truly appreciate everything that your Mum has done for you than becoming a parent yourself. All the heartache, the worry, and sleepless nights...not to mention the physical drain of pregnancy and labour. Mums are amazing aren't they. I am so grateful to my Mum Anne and my Dad Alex for being such loving parents, and every day, I thank my lucky stars that I have two wonderful daughters Awen and Tirion.
I realise that, sadly, not everyone is in the same situation - some friends have tragically lost their Mums far too young or are estranged from them; others have problematic relationships with their Mothers. Some friends desperately want to become mothers but have not been able too. So I know that Mothers' Day can be a terribly difficult date in the calendar and I send lots of love to anyone feeling low at this time of year.
If you are looking for a gift for your Mum - or a female friend who deserves spoiling - and you didn't manage to shop at our recent Mothers Day special - fear not! As I have put together a list of present ideas from our talented directory makers. (Links are given underneath the photos to take you to the maker's page.)
And starting tomorrow, I will introduce you to some of our makers who happen to be Mums themselves as they share their experiences and thoughts of the crazy ride that is motherhood.
Back tomorrow and in the meantime, have a browse......
New little Mini Ziptop bag from Lynda Shell Textiles. £45. Perfect for a small spring/summer bag when you don’t want to be weighed down with a huge heavy bag! They will fit in your purse, phone keys and a few small essentials. Available in colours: natural, wine and mid blue.
Penarth - Framed Textile Illustration, 10 Inch Wooden Embroidery Hoop from Stitch City. £60.00 plus delivery.
Welsh Mother's Day Card, Sul y Mamau, Mam Arbennig - Lovely Mum - in a zesty orange design by oh! Susannah. £2.50
Mummy's Bestie matching set from Zac and Bella. From £20.
Ceramic art dish from Love & Lovelier. £14.
Electric blue and gold design on pale grey suede clutch bag from Seascape Curiosities.
Ribbon and metal disc bracelet and earrings set from p&d Designs.
Orla Keily oilcloth accessories from Tommelise Danish Design.
Sterling silver necklace featuring the word ‘love’ from Lou Gray Jewellery. The text is hand drawn, laser cut and finished with a delicate silver belcher chain necklace. The total necklace length is approximately 16". £45
Gold French macaron favours from Majestic Macarons and Cakes. Gluten free. 12 luxury treats in gold, vanilla flavour. £24 plus delivery
Beautiful handmade cushions from The Pocket Pirate. £45. Made from reclaimed upholstery fabric for an individual, hardwearing cushion cover – no two are the same! Zipped at the edge for easy removal of the internal duck down pillow.
April Liddell. Founder of Little Otter Markets. Lives a crafty life. Loves going for walks with her dog Betsi, listening to music, and eating chelsea buns.