Where did your love of art and crafting come from and why do you enjoy it so much?
I have loved all arts and crafts since I can remember.

I think I just enjoy being able to draw or make something and get lost in doing it. It’s a way to escape for me.

When did you first try macrame and what was it that you liked about it so much?
Last summer, my youngest, Chester, asked me to make him a dreamcatcher and it all went from there. I started watching YouTube videos, reading books and was hooked on it straight away.

I love the infinite possibilities of it, how you can have a reel of cotton and just make a bag or make a plant hanger or just something pretty like a rainbow!

Eastern Daily Press: One of Gem's macrame rainbow nursery decorationsOne of Gem's macrame rainbow nursery decorations (Image: Contributed)

What was it that made you decide to take the leap and create your business, Piglet & Chestnut?
It really came out of nowhere, it was just a hobby last summer and has snowballed since. To be quite truthful, macrame was taking over the house and my husband said I should start trying to sell it.

I never ever expected it to get to this level though, where I’ve made it onto Not On The High Street and selling in John Lewis. It seems surreal!

Eastern Daily Press: Some of Gem's macrame wall hangings. She got hooked on the craft when she learned it a year agoSome of Gem's macrame wall hangings. She got hooked on the craft when she learned it a year ago (Image: Contributed)

Tell us about the products which you started off with...
The macrame rainbows were one of my first designs. I think for me it was comforting, after the losses I’d been through. To many of us it’s a symbol of hope and positivity and I think it’s why I loved and still love making them, over 700 rainbows later.

Where does the name Piglet & Chestnut come from?
They are the nicknames for my two sons Elijah and Chester. Elijah was an absolutely huge baby with a huge appetite (which he still has!) so was always my little piglet.

And whilst I was pregnant with Chester, he was always my little Chestnut.

What inspires your designs?
Colours! I love looking at interior design accounts on Instagram. I don’t look for anything in particular but if I see some colours that work well together, whether that’s on Instagram or when I’m out and about, I try to incorporate them into my designs.

Tell us about your DIY kits...
I’ve had customers ask for these for a while, really since I started making the rainbows.

So I used my skills I’ve picked up from tutoring along with my arty side to design the kits and I’m so chuffed with how they’ve been received.

Eastern Daily Press: Gem recently had a pop-up Piglet&Chestnut shop in John Lewis, NorwichGem recently had a pop-up Piglet&Chestnut shop in John Lewis, Norwich (Image: Contributed)

What is it like running a small business - what have you found to be the challenges?
I’ve been self-employed full time for a number of years now as a private tutor, so running a small business isn’t new to me.

However as both businesses are completely different they’ve both thrown up their own challenges. I would say the main one for me, which does actually apply to both, is the isolation. It can be very lonely sometimes and not everyone will approve or be supportive of you running a small business.

I admire any small business owners because I know what grit it takes. It’s definitely a lifestyle and not something to take on lightly.

Eastern Daily Press: Sustainability is important to Gem, so she uses recycled cottons to make her macrame piecesSustainability is important to Gem, so she uses recycled cottons to make her macrame pieces (Image: Contributed)

Tell us about the ways in which you're trying to make Piglet & Chestnut as sustainable as possible
Because I often teach about renewables, sustainable living and the importance of being eco friendly in my lessons, I’ve carried this over to Piglet & Chestnut.

I’ve tried to think of everything! The business cards are printed on recycled and recyclable card with inks made from natural plant dyes. The paper tape, tissue paper and stickers I use are also made from recycled materials and recyclable themselves. The cottons I use are made from recycled cotton and dyed naturally.

I’m acutely aware that posting nationally and internationally bumps up my carbon footprint and so I have liaised with a company to plant trees to help offset these emissions too. I am working hard to be a carbon neutral small business.

What have the highlights been so far?
For me, getting onto the selling platform Not On the High Street and being accepted into John Lewis.

With Not On The High Street, I had my initial application declined, but I tried again a few months later after improving Piglet & Chestnut and ticking off the suggestions they had given me.

I wrote on my second application ‘tell me what I need to do because I will keep applying until you say yes!’ And fortunately, they did say yes.

See Piglet & Chestnut online at notonthehighstreet.com and follow on Instagram @pigletandchestnut