Pawfect Memories plushies capture the likeness and the very essence of your beloved furry family member
We love your beautiful creations, tell us a bit about the artist behind them.
Hi! I am Laura and I am the founder of Lovingly Handmade Crochet and creator of our Pawfect Memories plushies! Both my wonderful fiancé Riccardo and I create our wonderful crocheted cuddly plush pet clones. My journey started when I had to give up my career as a specialist autism teacher as my disability became worse and I was unable to work. I took up crocheting as a new hobby and a way to keep myself busy when I was bed or sofa bound – and I fell in love straight away! I started making little flowers and then following patterns. After our beloved cat was killed in a car accident, I decided to try making a plushy version of her as a way to cope with the loss. It was difficult at first, not having a pattern and trying to work out how to make the shapes of her but I really enjoyed the challenge and loved doing it! From then, the business idea just developed! I created a few plushies for my fellow disabled crafters to build up a portfolio and things took off. Riccardo ended up having to leave work to take care of me, but I also taught him to crochet to help me with all the orders and he loved it too. Now we have made over 400 pet plushies for pet owners and families.
Have you always been creative or did your talent evolve over time?
I have always been artistic and have a foundation degree in art. I have always had loads of creative hobbies and loved anything to do with making and creating. I also make my own jewellery and do paper crafts too, as well as a bit of sculpture and anything else I fancy turning my hand to! For me, being creative is a way for me to express myself and gives me escape from the body I sometimes feel so trapped in. The only limitation I face with my arts is my imagination!
What is it that you enjoy most about your work?
I think the thing I enjoy most about my job is making a difference to people. So many people struggle so much with the loss of a pet and I think grief for an animal is never fully appreciated by those who don’t have furry family members! We have had people collect plushies from our home and cry when they open them. We have received the most wonderful emails and letters from our customers saying how much their Pawfect Memories plush means to them. That’s what we enjoy most – knowing we have given someone something so personalised and such a tangible way to remember a family member that gave them so much and means the world. Even the people who have their pets made that haven’t passed away are always so grateful too that they will have something to keep forever. Pets offer us so much so to find a way to keep that alive and package all those emotions and memories into a cuddly clone is just the most wonderful thing to do!
Have you achieved anything in your crafting life that you are particularly proud of?
I think having people want to write about my story and having others find it inspirational makes me really proud. It’s always lovely to hear you have inspired others or that people also suffering from disability and chronic illness feel hope from hearing your story. Running two businesses as a disabled woman is not without its challenges – but something I feel immensely proud of achieving!
Other than crafting what else do you like to do?
Art and crafting are kind of my life now! When I feel well enough, I do enjoy being in nature and have a love of history so visiting historical ruins and museums is always fun when I am able to do it. I also love reading and am animal mad!
If you had to choose your favourite from your creations, which would it be?
I can’t possibly ever choose a favourite! Each Pawfect Memories plush we have made presented its own challenges and rewards, so it is always very difficult to part with ANY of them! We put so much work into every single one that it’s almost like a piece of you becomes part of it. They can take between 40-100 hours each, so it is a huge investment of time and energy. But I do have a couple of favourite breeds I love making… I love basset hounds and border terriers! Riccardo loves making Labradors and the bigger breeds.
What advice would you offer to someone new starting out in the craft world?
I think it is most important to do something you love. Your passion and love will be the thing people buy! You should love making every piece you create, and I always know something is good if I don’t want to sell it or give it to the customer once it is finished ha-ha! Try loads of different things and never be afraid to do your own thing and make something new. Also… make sure you never undersell yourself!
If you could change one thing about what you do, what would it be?
I think the only thing I would change is to be more well-known! I’d like anyone who would benefit from having a Pawfect Memories plush to know that we offer this service and that it can be such a help to anyone struggling with pet loss! But it’s not just about that – they’re also the most wonderful gifts for any crazy cat lady or dog mum or dad too! We have made them for women to give to their men who work away from home and miss their dogs or cats while they’re away too!
What do you think has helped your business the most?
I think offering something unique and handcrafted has been really helpful. I also think the support of my disabled crafting community for networking has also been a huge help. Networking is so important, especially running a business because it can feel very lonely sometimes!
Has any person helped or supported you more than any other?
Riccardo has been my biggest help and support through this whole thing. He has gone from being my fiancé to also being my carer and had to change his whole life and plans too in order to support me. The strength, loyalty and love he shows me every day is something I never take for granted and he means the world to me!
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I hate tomatoes so much the very thought of them makes me feel sick!
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