A Northumberland woman has turned a colourful hobby into a fledgling business which is helping to put the county on the map for textiles.
Susanne Hume launched The Northumbrian Tweed company in January after making a patchwork quilt out of old baby clothes, among other items for her two-year-old son.
Encouraged by friends and family who were impressed with her hand-made products, Mrs Hume decided to start selling from the spare room in her Northumberland home.
Having designed and made a tweed cushion for a friend, she was inspired by the fabric’s versatility and started to explore other household soft furnishings.
She explained: “I live in a house which overlooks the Cheviot Hills, so it seemed appropriate to use Cheviot tweed.
“The fabric comes in 21 different colours and it’s great for me to use something which is so closely connected to the region.
“Everything I do is self taught, through books and YouTube videos, and there’s a bit of trial and error involved. I studied textiles at GCSE, but haven’t pursued it since then. This is something which grew out of hobby I enjoy.”
Using a small range of equipment at home, Mrs Hume has created a range of products including lamp shades, cushions and draught excluders.
All orders are tailor-made to customers through a “create-your-own” process which has so far produced a number of dog-themed products.
Mrs Hume added: “A lot of business is done through my website and Facebook. I’d originally set up the page just to test the waters and see what kind of appetite there was for these kinds of products.
“I was amazed when it started collecting so many likes. It’s now got over 3,000, which has totally surpassed my expectations.”
Through her connections with the equestrian world, Mrs Hume has also advertised the brand with the likes of Berwickshire Hunt Show and a number of competitive riders.
At present the products are available through The Northumbrian Tweed Company’s website and a stockist in Carlisle.
Working three days a week, in between childcare, Mrs Hume hopes to place more of her items with bricks and mortar retailers.
She added: “I’d like the business to remain a cottage industry for the moment as I really like to deal with customers myself. It fits the ethos of the business.
“I hope my story helps other mums to realise that it’s totally possible to start and run a small business from home while looking after young children.
“It could easily be a full-time job but living in a rural area means childcare is harder to get. This set-up lets me do both at the same time and I’d love other mothers to realise that it can be done.”