Read our Q&A below to find out more about each business, including their business motivations, highlights and their upcoming plans.
Pedddle: Tell us a little more about your business.
Scruffy Dog Creations: I create a range of handmade knit, crochet and needle felted items in the heart of the High Peak, including hats, scarves, vests, jumpers, wraps, cowls, slippers and gloves. I also offer homewares, including 100% cotton washcloths, scrubbies, shower puffs and mitts – perfect for reducing the plastic in your home.
Cocoon Mask: We create face masks are thoroughly sustainable and safe, using triple layer, organic peace silk, organic hemp and biodegradable eco elastic tencel thread, hand dyed using sustainable methods and minimal water. We make sure that every mask has the longest possible life to be as eco-friendly as possible, and for every five masks sold, a mask is donated to The Trussell Trust.
Yoyo Childrenswear: I create retro inspired children’s clothing and quirky accessories using fun and funky fabrics. Each item is designed and made by me, Helen, here in the UK!
Pedddle: What first made you want to start a small business?
Scruffy Dog Creations: It really happened by accident! I started out knitting a bobble hat in my cycling club colours, then made a few for some of my friends, then other members wanted them too. That spread to other clubs and teams wanting them in their colours and things kind of snowballed from there! I started making other products, learning new skills in the woolly world with crochet and needle felting and from there I’ve just enjoyed creating more and more.
Cocoon Mask: I have been working as a set and costume designer for the last 10 years. My role involves being part of a close team of creative collaborators, which is a wonderful thing, but also means frequently making artistic compromises. When this work was curtailed by lockdown, I saw an opportunity to create something for myself. I wanted to set a goal and achieve it without compromise, and so my thoroughly sustainable masks were created.
Having the time to explore natural dyes, which was something I’d wanted to try out for a while, opened up my creative potential, and when I joined Pedddle I was welcomed into a community of fellow makers who helped me turn my project into a small business that I am really proud of.
Yoyo Childrenswear: I’ve always had a passion for sewing and am mostly self taught, not sure where it comes from as there are no sewers in my family… as far as I’m aware!
I used to cut up my old clothes when I was around 8 years old and make clothes for all my dolls. After leaving school I went to college to study Dress Design and Pattern Construction for 4 years, to brush up on the skills I already had and to learn new ones, and came out with a HND. When my kids were 2 ½ and 5 ½, my then husband left us, so as you can imagine, money became tight. I started making some of their clothes out of the little stash of fabric I’d accumulated over the years. Then friends began to ask if I could make for them clothing too, so in essence, this was the very first start of my children’s wear business.
I’ve always wanted to follow my sewing passion but being a single Mum at the time made it quite difficult to juggle everything, but I did know that one day I would succeed and have my own business. My drive and ambition were so strong, it was going to happen!
Fast forward a few years or so, Yoyo Childrenswear was born on 1st February 2010 and it felt so good – I was now officially classed as a business owner! I knew it would be a tough journey to get to where I wanted to be, especially in the children’s wear sector, but I’m a grafter, putting the hours in to get established, working 7 days a week and following up every opportunity possible to get Yoyo on the map.
I just wanted to use the talent I’ve got, to fill the gap in the market for children’s clothing, to design and make something that little bit different from the norm, to be unique, sustainable, good quality but affordable and definitely
not mass produced – and I think I’m achieving this!
Pedddle: Why is shopping small so important to you?
Scruffy Dog Creations: Shopping small is shopping with a real life person who truly appreciates your order, rather than a large faceless company who takes you for granted. Shopping small gives someone a confidence boost from knowing that you like what they do, and a little rush of excitement each time an order comes through. Shopping small could mean that business owner being able to treat their family to a little something special that week and who doesn’t want that?
Cocoon Mask: I’ve been conscious for a long time that when you buy something you are not simply buying a product but you are effectively supporting the industry (and its practices) behind the product – therefore wherever you buy from becomes a positive or negative act.
Fast fashion and high street brands are able to sell products so cheaply because they are cutting corners – by not paying their makers a living wage, not using unsustainably sourced materials or not cleaning up the pollution created by their industry.
Small businesses are by their very nature a more traceable way to shop. You know you are helping to support and encourage an individual in their artistry. By shopping small, more money stays in the local economy.
Shopping small often means unique, handmade or one-off. It can mean connecting with the maker personally, or the potential to commission something truly personal. You are more likely to treasure what you buy for longer, which is ultimately the most sustainable way to shop.
Yoyo Childrenswear: I love to shop small because you find amazing and unusual items, and I love finding that item that’s a little bit different and is definitely not mass produced.
Since I started my business, I’ve come across so many other independent businesses and local businesses that I didn’t know existed. I think it’s so hard running a business as the income can be sporadic, so every purchase I make I know how personal that is to that business owner. I love the personal service, the personal contact between owner and customer.
I also think shopping small and independent helps the local economy and helps the business to grow, whether it be to expand into new ideas or taking on staff that are local too. It’s so nice to see the ‘happy dance’ that I and many others do when they’ve made a sale!
Pedddle: What has been your highlight of 2021 so far?
Scruffy Dog Creations: This is a tricky one! In terms of Scruffy Dog Creations then I think the variety of orders I’ve had has been great, and many from repeat customers which is so lovely.
In general life, there’s been some fabulous early season dry trails to ride my mountain bike on – although they are wet and muddy again as I type this!
Cocoon Mask: Managing to keep going (not to be underestimated..!).
2021 for me is about opening up to collaborations. I am currently developing a range of hemp produce bags as a commission for Gather organic zero waste store in Peckham, which is down the road from me. I have also been working with Foxtrot Molly Lingerie, naturally dyeing bamboo silk in indigo, avocado and cacao husk for a new range of vegan tap pants. It’s so lovely to share skills to create something bespoke and I am hoping to find more businesses to collaborate with in the future.
Yoyo Childrenswear: 2021 has started off in lockdown again but it’s not all bad. I have been lucky enough to have been chosen to host a pop shop in John Lewis and Partners for a week… it would have been this March but that was obviously cancelled, so the next date was June. I was going into the York store but now have since heard that the York store has been permanently closed, so I’m now working on new dates and new stores! Leeds and the Trafford Centre have been mentioned, so watch this space!
I’ve also been concentrating on getting up to date with my online bits, including Etsy and my website etc. I’m still learning about the digital world and there’s other avenues I want to explore, but it just takes time.
Pedddle: What is your current bestseller and why do you think this is?
Scruffy Dog Creations: The last couple of weeks has seen an increase in sales of my eco-friendly 100% cotton handmade washcloths, make up pads and scrubbers. I think more and more people are making those little changes to reduce plastic and disposables in their homes, which is fantastic to see.
Cocoon Mask: My Indigo masks are my bestsellers, they are the first to go at live markets too. In fact, it’s the one I wear myself!
Indigo has been prized for thousands of years, and I wonder whether it is attractive because it is the colour of the sky (either in the day or night depending on how deep the shade), but blue is not such a prevalent colour found in nature otherwise. The process of extracting the colour from the leaf is lengthy and many staged, making it all the more precious.
Yoyo Childrenswear: My current bestseller by far is my Strawberry dress and the accessories that match it. I think it’s because it’s just such a gorgeous versatile fabric and style. These dresses have been worn to weddings, parties and christenings. A simple style but very effective!
Pedddle: We are so excited about markets re-opening (regulations depending). What’s next for you, market-wise?
Scruffy Dog Creations: Hopefully my regular local market, Love Bollington Market, will be back in May, and after the success of having my very own mini-Pop-Up Stall with my studio mate and a ceramics friend just before Christmas, I’m currently planning the next edition of that – stay tuned for a date! (Probably early May).
Cocoon Mask: I will be at Flea London in Vinegar Yard on the 17th of April, which is their first day to open since lockdown, and again on the 1st of May. I will also be selling at Support Local Pop Up in Tunbridge Wells (dates tbc).
Yoyo Childrenswear: I’m not booked into any markets or online events as yet, as I’m so busy concentrating on getting things ready for John Lewis, but I hope to be attending a few, hopefully in person, later this year.