When I sat down with entrepreneur Hazel to chat about her business, I didn’t expect the conversation we ended up having. In 2021, Hazel set up Blewbury Crafts, selling her high-quality, handmade greetings cards; but the business is much more than the crafts themselves. Hazel describes herself as an ideas person with copious amounts of enthusiasm, and in our fascinating conversation we discussed what entrepreneurship has meant to her; her passion for people and communication; and the link she is establishing between crafts and therapy.
The story behind Blewbury Crafts
Hazel has been an Oxfordshire Speech and Language Therapist for many years, a career she continues to pursue alongside Blewbury Crafts. She helps those affected by Strokes, Autism, and other conditions to communicate, and has worked in various environments such as the NHS and schools.
Her second passion has always been crafting, but it has only recently become her second career. In 2019, Hazel became unwell and sought support from NHS TalkingSpace Plus and Aspire, a charity that empowers people facing disadvantages. Through Aspire, Hazel attended a course on setting up a business, something that had been at the back of her mind. “It dispelled some of the myths about how difficult this may be by breaking it down into manageable steps,” she says. It was the impetus she needed to bring Blewbury Crafts to life.
Hazel doesn’t gloss over the very real elements of entrepreneurship, though. “You’ve got to be certain before you take the jump,” she says, as we discuss the reality of paying the bills whilst pursuing a goal. She tells me of the courage needed when others gently reminded her that she had a stable 9-5 – wouldn’t it be better to play it safe?
The decisions aren’t easy, but Hazel’s honesty is forthright: she always thought there was a binary choice between conventional employment or setting up a business. But now she has made both a reality, and it’s true that our multi-faceted selves can be contained as society tells us that we’re defined by only one pursuit, one idea, one talent. Hazel is not only an entrepreneur: she’s an innovator.
I ask her if she would do it all over again and the answer is a definitive yes. She cannot emphasise enough the confidence she has gained, and the positive change created.
In fact, Hazel tells me that she now appreciates much more the things she pursues for enjoyment. She’s spot on in saying that it’s these small things that give us a chance to escape, focus, and be ourselves. Hazel’s artistic process often includes actively listening to the positive story of an audiobook, therefore drawing focus away from any negativity and forging a link between art and mindfulness. And at the end of the day, she can bask in the sense of accomplishment of giving her ideas a physical form.
I’m fascinated to hear more about the card-making process itself. Hazel cannot curtail her enthusiasm as she explains her continuous learning process and experimentation with materials, with the idea of expanding her business to sell other crafts. Hazel employs multiple techniques to create unique designs, using a Sissix machine, fabric, beads, watercolour and even clay, having recently attended a silver clay workshop. For a special touch, each card includes a gift for the recipient, currently a bookmark integrated into the design.
From crafts to communication
Indeed, Blewbury Crafts is much more than a craft business. For Hazel, her interest in people and enabling them to communicate is of fundamental importance. “I have always loved giving homemade greetings cards,” she says, “It fitted my desire to help people communicate, just in a different form.”
Through her profession, she has combined Speech and Language Therapy with crafts, explaining that engagement with art alongside self-expression in a practical situation brings out another side to her patients. It fuels her motivation to teach craft-making to others: “I would love to start offering Speech and Language Therapy but using practical and creative ways to achieve this,” she says with energy, adding that there is also the wellbeing benefit from mindfulness and the reward from gifting your craft to a loved one.
“I always assumed that being a Speech and Language Therapist was ‘just my job’,” Hazel continues, “However, when my change in circumstances gave the opportunity to consider another career, it led me to realise that my interest and passion in enabling people to communicate is more a part of me than I realised.”
Hazel’s ideas to develop the craft–communication connection through craft-making kits and courses would reach even further by empowering people, providing them with a platform to sell their work: “This may support other people to set up their own businesses who would otherwise struggle due to their communication.”
Hazel’s energy for her art, and her desire to help and connect with others is unrivalled, and I personally cannot wait to see what unfolds for this business in the future.
Blewbury Crafts online and contact details
Find Hazel’s beautiful greetings cards on Etsy (shop name is Blewburycards).
Contact Hazel at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07989 134 533.
Discount for REACH readers
Why not get ahead with gifts for your loved ones? Readers of REACH can enjoy an exclusive 30% off Hazel’s crafts on Etsy using the code REACH1122 on checkout. (While stocks last. Offer expires 30/11/2022).