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. Rachel's favourite keepsake is a monkey.
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. Merry loves our Grandad cushions!
Pip - Pip is our wonderful workshop manager and head of all things 'making'. She has a degree in Costume Production from the Plymouth College of Art and is super organised keeping orders going out on time. Fun fact about Pip is that she once turned herself into a giant spider made out of entirely recycled materials. Pip's favourite design is our letter cushions!
Karla - Karla is our very chirpy administrator. She's a mum of two and loves dogs. She is the person you are most likely to speak to on the phone or over emails and does the receipt and postage of most of the parcels. Fun fact about Karla is that she used to play netball for Devon at county level. Of course, there was no doubt that Karla's favourite keepsake would be our dog!
Sally - Sally is our pattern cutter. She does the vast majority of our cutting so she's the one who's super important job it is to make sense of the notes that you send in with the clothing. Fun fact about Sally - her dream pet is a miniature pig. We did ask if we could buy her one so that it could be our office mascot and we're just waiting to see if her husband will say yes. Watch this space. In the meantime.... her favourite keepsake is (obviously) our pig!
Eleana - Eleana is a production team member. She's a real juggler, keeping the embroidery machine running, hopping on 'Stuffington Bear' (our stuffing machine) and hand finishing the animals. Fun fact about Eleana is that she's a windsurfer and she loves our keepsake bunny!
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….. Fun fact about Hannah is another sports star one, she used to be a winger for Plymouth Albion girls' rugby and her favourite keepsake is our sausage dog.
Jasmin - Jasmin 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 now has her hands full with two tiny tots but keeps herself busy sewing for us both at home and in the workshop! Jasmin is a big fan of our keepsake koala as koalas remind her of how her son gives her big koala cuddles!
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.