Craft Your Year - Buy the book now!

All you need to succeed is an idea and a can-do attitude

From an early age, I knew I wanted to be in business. My mam and dad have always run their own businesses and have owned a decorating store for more than 30 years. The shop became part of our lives in a big way. We’d think nothing of a decorator knocking on our door at 10 pm for a tin of paint because my mam would happily get dressed, open the shop up and mix it for them.

My sister Helen and I helped out a lot as kids and learnt the value of money as well as the basics of running a business.

Having grown up surrounded by career-driven people and having watched my parents reap the rewards of owning their own companies, I knew that one day I wanted to do the same and thought that I could be the one to take over the family business. My sister Helen took over that role and runs it today.

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Instead, I went to university and was introduced to the huge world that is crafting. After speaking to crafters who were putting their lovely handmade cards into standard white envelopes, I realised that I had found a gap in the market and Crafter’s Companion was born.

That was 15 years ago and today Crafter’s Companion is a global retailer headquartered in the North East of England, employing more than 200 people across the world.

Since I launched Crafter’s Companion, there’s never been a dull moment. I’ve taken our products and demonstrations to TV shopping channels across the world and have visited some amazing places, all in the name of craft. I’m proud that we’ve created a loyal community of crafters and a network of support for so many people!

I married my childhood sweetheart, Simon, in 2007 and a year later he joined Crafter’s Companion as the company’s managing director. He oversees the day-to-day running of the business and I get to focus on business development and all things creative, which I love. We’ve got two amazing kids, Charlie and Oliver, who share my passion for making and we’re always trying out new things together.

On a personal note, I was awarded an MBE in 2016 and I’m the youngest-ever dragon to have joined the panel of entrepreneurs on Dragons’ Den. I used to watch the show all the time as a business student, so as you can imagine, it’s a dream come true!

Speaking of dreams come true, I have been a huge fan of BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing for as long as I can remember and have long wished that I could take part in the show. Well, in 2021, my dreams turned into a reality when I was asked to take part in series 19. I was partnered with the wonderful Aljaž Škorjanec and absolutely loved my time on the show as well the Strictly Live Tour, which followed in January 2022. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the full Strictly experience, and I made some true friends for life.

I’ve had a whirlwind of a career so far and never imagined that a passion for crafting could take me so far. So whatever your ‘craft’ may be, just imagine where it can take you next.