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Q&A with Nicola from The Monkey Lady at Valentines Occasions

What's the name of your handmade business and how did you come up with the name? 
I am The Monkey Lady at Valentines Occasions 
The name is a mix of my original business name and what I became known as locally when we change directions and started making and Selling Sock Monkeys  
How did you get into crafting and how long have you been crafting?
I've been crafting since a very early age,I always loved arts and crafts of all kinds and try everything! I've been sewing since about 11 and learned most of what I know from my mum and self taught for the rest 😊
What kinds of things do you like to make?
I male lots of lovely items but mainly focusing on items for children so I make lots of Sock monkeys, comforters, blankets and personalised items - all tested and CE safe 
What kinds of materials do you use?
The materials I use are mainly socks, fabric and felt and more recently glitter felts and vinyl
What new crafts do you want to try?
I'm really loving resin makes at the moment and would love to have a go and create some timeless keepsakes 
What is your favourite craft tool?
My favourite craft tools are my machines - I have a sewing machine, overlocker and embroidery machine - all have names aswell- the most recent being my embroidery machine aka The Beast 
What is your favourite Creative Craft supply product?
My favourite CCS product is the wool Felt - the softness and durability is amazing and there is so much choice in colour ive always found what I've needed for my projects 
What’s one of your favourite things you’ve made?
One of my favorite things I've made is my sock monkeys- especially the ones for my own children as thats the best compliment you can get when your loved ones love your makes 
What are some of your favourite things to do in your spare time?
When I'm not crafting I love spending time with my family, we love visiting the zoo (especially the monkeys) and travelling around for special days out and city breaks visiting some of the best museums across the UK
What advice would you give to people just starting out crafting?
Be prepared to to make some mistakes and keep trying -thats all part of the fun of learning and finding your craft passion 
What's the hardest thing about running a handmade business?
Research - making sure your doing everything right and making your items safe and book keeping - thankfully my hubby likes to do the accounts 
Share a success story with us..
Recently we have expanded our business by offering embroidery services as this felt like the most natural progression for us. It was a big investment to make and I was worried it wouldn't work under the current circumstances but with time and effort and support from my family we grew over night. I've self taught myself to digitise and create my own designs and even trained the husband up to help when we have our busy spells 
What inspires your designs?
My kids and their friends mainly, I look for whats in and what works and what they would like - they have a lot of input on anything we look to make and promote 
Can you tell us about your design process?
its starts with a sketch or a doodle of a idea or layout - my sketch pad is always on my table for when ever an idea pops in my head -ive even doodled on receipts when out and about - from their I find the materials or patterns I need and then I sit and create 
What's ahead in 2020?
Were busy planning for Christmas with our range of handmade Christmas stockings, decorations and gifts 
Where can we find out more?