Tell us a bit about you and your family?
I’m Coral, a mamma to two small boys; Felix and Barnaby, and we live in Harrogate. I grew up alongside mannequins and pins as my mum taught City and Guilds pattern cutting and dress making when we were little, and I’ve always had a passion for creating things.
My husband is a furniture designer and we have been renovating our Victorian terraced house for many years in between having the boys. Life is never dull.
I was previously a sales manager in luxury accessories and then Women’s wear in my pre- baby days so I like to think I’m very commercially aware, have an appreciation of quality and also love the company of others.
What’s the story behind your Etsy shop?
I began my Etsy shop at the beginning of the year as it’s a selling platform that’s accessible to the world and also works really well alongside my Instagram account which works really well for me as a small business. I dabbled in photoshop and digital design before I began Velveteen Babies which is a huge asset as I’m able to create my own branding, postcards and prints for my shop.
Strangely as the story goes, I started making things by accident. I bought Donna Wilson’s book, ‘Creative Creatures’ and made a few of the little toys. I then thought about how I could produce my own little toys for a then very tiny baby Barnaby. I posted a few pictures of early makery on my IG account and it sprung from there, soon I was making lots of lovely things for people and it’s incredible how far I’ve come in such a short time. I feel so happy and elated when a 5 star review pings up on my Etsy feed.
How did you come up with your shop name?
My wedding reading was a passage from the children’s classic ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ about being loved. I wanted to apply that concept to my makery and so ‘Velveteen Babies’ was born. Initially I just produced the little felt ‘baby’ dolls which is where the ‘babies’ aspect comes from. It’s now stuck and is quite distinctive for people to remember.
Where do you make your work?
I make everything at mine and my parent’s house. I have a big comfy 1950’s armchair with a light above, and my kitchen table is usually covered in garlands with glue drying! I have a few Ikea tubs full of glitter, felt, glue and threads which are rarely out of service. The only thing I out source is my printing which is done locally by a great firm called Sid Horner & Son.
What Inspires your designs?
I’m inspired daily by Instagram, Pinterest and interior designers. I love looking at room layouts presented online in blogs and social media and thinking ‘I could do *something* to suit that space’. My ideas are overflowing and I wish I had the time to put all of them into motion.
Literature also helps me grow ideas- once I finished ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern I had a black and white obsession, though I love a touch of colour with monochrome in my own home.
I’m also heavily influenced by my own children and creating inspiring quality products that they would love in their spaces. In particular, the superhero themed items appeal to my three year old, and the more sensory clouds appeal to my baby son.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
Once an idea had planted itself, I tend to do a pattern mockup on Photoshop, print it and cut it out, and then pin to the felt or fabric, cut and sew. I handsew everything (mainly blanket stitch) which is time consuming, but gives a quality finish. I love attention to detail and make sure every item is checked over once I’ve finished.
My husband who’s a perfectionist does a lot of pattern cutting for me, and making garlands involves laying out the length of line on the table, securing, shapes sticking overnight then all sewing round the next day. Basically every item takes a few hours of my time, there are no shortcuts and no quick fixes. Every sequin is hand sewn on and not just glued.
A lot of my time is spent photographing my items and updating my shop, and I like to wrap every item nicely and always include a personal note to the buyer with their order.
How do you balance motherhood and work?
I always try to work on an evening when the children are in bed, and I’m also blessed by having very supportive parents who my boys adore. I get work done when Felix is at preschool and Barney is napping. Currently there just are never enough hours in the day, but I’m not afraid of hard work and just get stuck in.
As a family we spend a lot of time adventuring together, making memories and Felix loves seeing a new completed project and giving his opinion!
Can you share any exciting new products?
I’ve just launched a range of Halloween themed babies and a glitter lightning strike garland. I’m working on Christmas ideas too, but honing down the options… very tricky!
Coral is very kindly offering Chalk Kids readers a discount code and a complimentary postcard with any order – Simply use CHALKKIDS on Velveteen Babies Etsy Store for 15% off until the 30th November.