Meet the mother-daughter duos with their own creative businesses
To celebrate Mothering Sunday this month, we meet the mother-daughter duos who have launched their own creative businesses.
From scented candles inspired by Yorkshire to organic remedies that use Ghanaian and Nigerian recipes, there's plenty of talent and creativity to inspire you.
Heidi Francis and Julia Smith run Flint, a curated collection of homeware handmade with flowers from their Sussex cutting garden.
Heidi and her mother Julia launched Flint – a homeware and clothing boutique – 18 years ago, basing the business in a 14th-century building in the heart of Lewes. However, a combination of the lease coming up on the shop and Heidi and her husband moving to the country got them thinking about a change: “It was the impetus we needed,” she says.
So they made the decision to move their store online only and set up a studio and cutting garden at Julia’s house, just outside of town. Now they offer ‘Flint Makes’, a selection of handcrafted creations – from cards to silk scarves and soaps – featuring natural dyes and hand-pressed flowers grown in Heidi’s garden.
Elizabeth and Margaret Beaumont create environmentally-friendly textiles and homeware for their business, Rag Makers, in West Yorkshire.
“Mum and I were always busy making things in our spare time; our heads were full of ideas we wanted to try,” says Elizabeth. “Then, when Mum changed jobs and I moved closer to home, it gave us an opportunity to put some of those plans into action.”
The pair drew inspiration from women in the family who’d spent their lives working in the rag trade, recycling woollen cloth in Ossett, West Yorkshire. Adopting similarly sustainable principles, Elizabeth and Margaret source pre-consumer waste yarns and fabric cut-offs from local mills, turning them into handmade homeware, bags and blankets. “Being able to spend time together is wonderful,” Elizabeth says. “Becoming a mother myself has given me a new perspective, making me even more thankful for everything Mum does and continues to do for me.”
Jenny Crisp and Issy Wilkes Combined their skills to set up Willow with Roots in Worcestershire.
During her 30-year career, willow weaver Jenny has been commissioned by the Royal Family, exhibited at the V&A and contributed to films including Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. Although daughter Issy grew up running around in the willow fields, she never considered following in her mother’s footsteps. “People would always ask, ‘Are you going to be a basket maker when you’re older?’ And I think that put me off the idea,” she says.
Instead, Issy studied design and performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama before embarking on a career creating props and set designs for theatre and events: “I’ve enjoyed collaborating with Mum on projects over the years and in 2019, when I became a parent myself, it seemed like the right time to join forces full-time.”
Together, they set up Willow with Roots, weaving a mixture of indoor and outdoor pieces, large and small scale. One day they can be working on a bespoke lampshade, the next a nine-foot-tall willow man. “We’re up for anything!” Issy says.
Rosie Insley runs Wild Rose Flower Company from the walled garden of a Georgian farmhouse in Buckinghamshire.
Katherine Insley may not be on the books of Wild Rose Flower Company, but without her, the business would never have gotten off the ground. “My mum instilled a love of gardening in me from the age of about five,” Rosie says. “When I decided to swap a career in event management for horticulture, she was my biggest supporter.”
With Katherine’s help, Rosie started planting up rows of flowers, adopting a chemical-free approach and focusing on seasonal ‘wild country blooms’. “In the early days, I don’t know how I would have managed without her,” Rosie says. “Not only did she help with all the hands-on stuff – running stalls and workshops, and doing jobs in the garden – she also never stopped encouraging me.”
Vanessa and Adele Bell's hand-poured candles are inspired by the sights and scents of their native Yorkshire.
“We launched Voak in 2019 when we realised that candle-making had become a bit of an obsession,” Vanessa says. “It had started as a hobby and creative outlet when we were both working as teachers, but we enjoyed it so much it soon became a business.”
Vanessa and Adele stir up small batches of soy wax candles, fragranced with botanical ingredients inspired by the Yorkshire Dales. Forager’s Path features rosemary and lemon, Broad Skies sandalwood and thyme, while Dappled Woods is an aromatic mix of pine and white mint.
“Having two generations collaborating means we can create candles that appeal to a wide range of customers,” Vanessa says. “And because we get along so well, we can also be completely honest with each other about our ideas.”
Ade and Antonia Ogunsola have a skincare brand, Okiki, based in Kent.
“When I became a parent myself, it seemed like the right time to join forces with my mum”. Ade’s and Antonia’s natural and organic remedies use Ghanaian and Nigerian recipes passed down through the generations. For Ade, soap-making was a way to connect with her mother. “She taught me how to do it during my childhood in Nigeria,” she explains. “After she passed away, I decided to give it a go again.”
It turned out that Ade had a knack for natural remedies, as her daughter Antonia soon discovered: “I really suffered with acne,” Antonia says. “I tried everything – including many expensive treatments – and was getting desperate. That’s when Mum blended a batch of Lolu Facial Soap. It was amazing. I’ve been using it for seven years now.”
After Antonia was made redundant during the pandemic, she used her marketing nous to whip up a website and social media account for Ade’s range of balms, body lotions and bath salts. And so Okiki – which translates as ‘prestigious’ in Yoruba, a language spoken throughout West Africa – was born.
Marion Parish, Becca Stuart and Becca's mum, Penny Dunn, launched The Garden Gate Flower Company in Cornwall.
Becca was juggling motherhood with a curtain-making business when her friend Marion suggested they set up their own cut-flower garden. “We both loved horticulture and felt ready for a change,” Becca says. “It seemed like the perfect opportunity to collaborate.”
The challenge was finding a plot on which to put their plan into action. Enter Becca’s mum Penny, who owned an organic family farm outside Fowey and had a field to spare. All three women pitched in, planting up the space with everything from roses to ranunculus.
Eleven years later and The Garden Gate Flower Company provides blooms for weddings and events, as well as offering floristry courses. Although Marion has now left the business, Penny is still very much involved: “Having Becca around more and sharing sunny days outdoors has been wonderful,” she says.
Kate and Anna hail from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, and created their accessories brand, Holme & Moss in 2018.
The creative duo lovingly handcraft a wide range of Liberty print hair accessories and gifts, including headbands, scrunchies, and hair bows for little ones.
They say: "We launched Holme & Moss just before Kate retired as a school librarian. Kate is the maker of the team and has always had a lifelong passion and talent for sewing. Daughter Anna looks after the digital and marketing side, and is responsible for giving Kate the push she needed to start the business!"
"The name Holme & Moss originates from the inspirational landscape of our home town, Holmfirth - the pinnacle of which is the majestic ‘Holme Moss’ moor and its surrounding landscape," they add.
Based in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset, Ottilies Flowers is run by a mother and daughter team, Jane and Hannah.
The family connection doesn't stop there, either. "The name Ottilies Flowers is after my daughter Ottilie, with whom I was pregnant as we started," explains Hannah. The pair started their flower farming journey during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, turning Hannah's dream of over 10 years into a reality.
"We have a very simple mission in mind, to grow beautiful seasonal flowers for both fresh and dried bunches for you to enjoy, using eco-friendly methods to ensure we preserve the flora and fauna that surrounds our field."
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