History of the Company
In 2010, when Rachel’s son Freddie was six months old, her husband went off to Afghanistan with the military. Rachel was wondering what to do with some of Freddie’s babygrows, the ones that she really couldn’t bear to part with, and decided to turn them in to a patchwork memory quilt that her husband could take away with him. She shared a photo of it on her Facebook page and all of her friends and family loved it. Rachel started making blankets, and later memory bears for other people, using a Facebook page and a Google Docs order form. The orders were coming in thick and fast and there was soon a year long waiting list.
In 2012 Rachel and her old Army chum, Merry, were talking about the keepsakes over a glass (*ahem, bottle*) of wine and how there was a real gap in the market for a professional company to provide the kind of textile memory items Rachel was making. Having gone through Army training together, Rachel knew that they could work well in a team and asked Merry to get involved. LoveKeepCreate was set up in early 2013 with just a small personal investment to get a website set up, which launched in May 2013.
For the first couple of years the business was run mainly from spare bedrooms, with extra seamstresses brought in to help whilst Rachel and Merry tried to juggle new babies, dogs, husbands on deployment and multiple house moves across numerous different countries. It was in 2015 that Merry and Rachel both moved to Dartmoor and LoveKeepCreate was able to transition in to a workshop in Plymouth, a huge leap for the business, but critical if they were going to take it to the next level.
Life making keepsake memory bears and blankets settled down nicely and this was the period during which the business was really able to establish the processes and level of quality that enabled all of the future growth. Not least of which was the fact that LoveKeepCreate was now in a position to apply for Dragons’ Den! You can read more about Rachel and Merry’s whole Dragons’ Den experience in our blog post. Exciting times!
The business continued to grow and in January 2018 moved to a bigger premises. The business has evolved hugely from the early days where all the keepsakes were made from baby clothing and now more and more of the memory bears are made from the clothing of loved ones that have passed away. Not only that, but increasingly LoveKeepCreate is making memory teddies, blankets and quilts from all kinds of different fabrics – school uniforms, military uniforms, pet blankets, wedding dresses – pretty much anything you can think of!
Rachel – Rachel is the creative brains behind the business. She’s a true crafter at heart, always on her sewing machine at home developing new ideas and patterns – when she’s not too busy with the business and her three children! Fun fact about Rachel is that she has a Blue Peter badge. Coffee White One Sugar please.
Merry – Merry is a jack of all business admin trades. She loves organising things and is obsessive about her lists. Many people are surprised that given she runs a sewing based business she can’t sew (well, nothing more than a button!). Fun fact about Merry is that she has a lorry licence she’s never used. Coffee White No Sugar (well go on then, just half a teaspoon) please.
Rachel P – Having two Rachel’s is confusing, so inside the office Rachel P has been renamed ‘RP’ (something she has taken in good humour!). RP is our administrator and the person that our customers are most likely to speak to. She receives all the parcels in, answers queries, takes calls, conducts quality control and dispatches all the orders. There isn’t a courier in Plymouth that she doesn’t know! Fun Fact about RP – she used to keep snails as pets (we’ve told her she can’t bring them to the office). RP doesn’t drink tea or coffee – shock!
Jasmine – Jasmine has been with LoveKeepCreate for years and is an outstanding seamstress. She’s also queen of the embroidery machines and keeps everyone in check! She’s currently off on maternity with her lovely new daughter, Olive. Tea White None please.
Hannah – Hannah is one of LoveKeepCreate’s most long-standing seamstresses. She is an absolute whizz at making the most beautiful Christening Gowns from wedding dresses and has been through pretty much all of the random clothing requests we get – entire quilt from boxer shorts, threadbare bunny towel turned in to a memory bunny teddy, a double bed blanket out of ties….. Tea White None please.
Nicola – Nicola is another long standing member of the seamstress team. She also works part time at the theatre doing costumes for productions. Fun fact about Nicola – she’s about to be on a documentary about the Theatre Royal costumes team. Tea White None please.
Emily – Emily has been with LoveKeepCreate since the days when most of the making was being done in Rachel’s sitting room. She is the queen of Weighting (we weight memory bears and other animals to the same weight as a baby when it was born). She also does lots of other jobs around the workshop and some sewing. She has a baby at home and comes all the way from deepest darkest Cornwall a couple of times a week on the train. Another no-tea drinker.
Noula – Noula started off with LoveKeepCreate in 2017 doing some work experience and has never really left! She does most of the hand finishing of the animals and is training up as a seamstress. No tea here either.
Farrah – Farrah is our maternity cover for Jasmine and has been learning the ropes on the embroidery machines and doing some stuffing and hand finishing whilst she is trained up on the patterns for sewing. Farrah won an award for her final show in her textile degree at Plymouth College of Art and Design.
There are a number of other part time and self-employed staff that help us, particularly in the busy pre-Christmas period whom we are all thrilled to have – big shout outs to Jan, Irina, Pip, Margaret and Kate!
We are so grateful for all the people that make the magic happen at LoveKeepCreate. Our staff are a really dedicated bunch who appreciate just how important the items we make are to our customers. They work incredibly hard and take a great deal of care to ensure that all of the keepsakes are made to the highest standard, and go out of their way to accommodate special requests from customers wherever possible.
LoveKeepCreate has come so far since it started. We (Rachel and Merry) are so proud of what we have achieved. We aren’t big City types with amazing backgrounds in marketing and finance. We haven’t had heaps of money poured in. We haven’t had dedicated full time stay at home Dad’s enabling us to focus solely on our business. Everything we have achieved we have done ourselves – the hard way, and all whilst juggling our families as the primary carers. Our greatest success is in having developed a great quality business, creating really meaningful products that we actually care about, providing fairly paid employment to staff we are incredibly grateful for.
That aside, Dragons’ Den obviously ranks up there too! We were so thrilled to not only have found an investor, but to have completely smashed the pitch! Positive comments from all five judges with three offering – and on exactly the terms we’d asked for, not even bartering us down. It was a fantastic external validation of all our hard work and we couldn’t have been prouder.