BrawHem came about in unusual circumstances. In March 2014 I became suddenly paralysed from the chest down because of a rare illness called Neuromyelitis Optica. I learned to walk again – woohoo! – but life has been very different since. Unable to work again, unable to drive, I was struggling with boredom and, perhaps inevitably, depression. After mentioning to my mum that I’d been eyeing up a second hand sewing machine, guess what arrived in the post? Yup, my Mum kindly bought me a sewing machine (thanks Mum!).
Unable to afford new fabric, I began creating clothes and household items from old curtains, bedsheets, tablecloths – you name it, if it could be sewn into something new I couldn’t keep my hands off it. I’d trawl local charity shops looking for anything I could transform.
Understanding that what we often see as ‘waste’ or ‘old’ or ‘no good’ actually has a value, can become something new, and needn’t be sent to the scrap heap is really what kicked me into creating handmade items for others – to show, rather than tell, people what can be done with what we often throw away.
I’m proud to say that I’m wearing a pair of curtains, carrying a bag that used to be a pillowcase and have a headband made from an old shirt – and I hope that people who choose to shop at BrawHem will be proud to say the same too.