10 minutes with: By Victoria
Born almost by accident, By Victoria is the result of some friendly encouragement and an exceptional talent. Pregnant with her second child, By Victoria founder, Victoria Robinson suffered the strain of redundancy and unsuccessful job-seeking in the volatile UK employment market.
After she gave birth to a beautiful son she rediscovered her childhood hobby; knitting and sewing on her aunt’s borrowed sewing machine and her new business was born.
This is the story of By Victoria.
How did By Victoria come about?
By Victoria was created after I was made redundant whilst pregnant with my second child, I repeatedly applied for jobs during my pregnancy but with no success. When my son was born I decided to borrow an aunts old sewing machine and with a copy of Cath Kidston’s book beside me I began to sew cushions, I used to knit and sew with
my Grandmother as a child and felt like doing something creative again.
So it started as a hobby? How did you make the move to business?
Friends started to comment on my cushions and encouraged me to start a facebook page and basically the madness began! Within hours I had sold cushions to local customers and by the autumn of that year I started to think about how I could make my cushions more unique, by personalising them so I bought a second hand basic embroidery machine that took until 4am to install on my pc! This paid off though because when I first made an “always remember” cushion, as soon as I posted it on my facebook page I could barely keep up with the demand.
Where did you go next?
With success of the personalised cushions I realised I needed another larger embroidery machine that would open up more avenues such as more detailed cushions as
well as personalised children’s soft toys and clothing, so a few weeks later a large delivery arrived which needed 2 men to carry it containing my pride and joy embroidery machine.
From the arrival of this machine my business went manic, I was able to create a new cushion that I called the “family cushion” which consisted of stick people that my customers could customise with clothing, hair colours and have the persons name below them, again I struggled to keep up with orders for these! My soft toy and clothing range also became incredibly popular which resulted in me providing items for Emily Blunt’s new baby, Tom Cruise and Katie Holme’s Daughter, Siri and for Kim Kardashian’s new baby!
And all this was from your facebook page?
Yes! But I soon decided it was time to really get my website up and running so I designed it myself and eventually after many months of work I was happy with how it looked and much to my delight I picked up an online website award. This boost made my confidence soar, and I’m now in the process of setting up & building my second website (www.thequirkytreehouse.co.uk) which will be non-personalised quirky gifts. I’m also starting a facebook group (Autism & ADHD Parents North Down) for local mum and dads who have children with Autism and other special needs and I am taking part in a sponsored mountain climb in October to raise funds for a local Autism charity.
What challenges have you overcome?
I am a great believer in things happening for reasons, over the last 3 years of launching and building my business, my youngest son was diagnosed with autism, which has meant a lot of sleepless nights, a strict routine as well as endless hospital and therapy appointments; sometimes three a week and on one occasion three in a day !
When I do get the odd free minute to sit back and contemplate everything, I have realized I am now doing the job I was meant to do, the redundancy and job knock backs were all part of this plan for me to be where I am today so I can be with my son for all his appointments and to be at home full time to provide him with everything he needs, it also means I am at home for my eldest son who is nine, so I never have to miss a sports day or school play again.
Juggling everything is hard at times and many nights I’m still in my studio at 2am but I wouldn’t change a thing as I have the best of both worlds being with my boys and working at something I love.