Military wife and busy mum Charlene Minifie from Lee-on-the-Solent who discovered her passion for crafting during lockdown
A BUSY mum-of-three who discovered her talent for making handcrafted gifts such as jewellery from breast milk in lockdown is hoping to inspire others through a business network set up specifically for mums.
Military wife Charlene Minifie from Lee-on-the-Solent, said she was struggling when the pandemic first started, juggling her children and their health conditions, her desire to return to work and trying to keep her mental health on track.
The 37-year-old said: ‘In February 2020, I began making plans to return to work. My youngest son was a year old, and although I was enjoying being a stay at home mum, I felt I needed to earn an income to help support our family.
‘As a qualified eyelash technician, I was planning to build a business, take further training, and work hard to improve our prospects.
‘Then we began to hear about a virus. I knew it was unlikely that I would get my business up and running.
‘Things very quickly changed as the reality of the pandemic became clear.
‘Everyday life became increasingly difficult. Like many others, my anxiety and PTSD were triggered, by the relentless messages of fear.
‘Isolation left me spiralling into severe depression.
‘In between homeschooling I began to watch videos of people creating, and it made me happy to see what they were achieving.
‘I started to think about all the things I had made over the years and shared some photos on social media.
‘I began to receive requests to make things, which gave me a great sense of pride.’
Charlene was commissioned to make gifts for charity Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service and 80 pieces of work were distributed.
She said: ‘I took my new found enthusiasm for crafting, and decided to approach a local shop about stocking my products.
‘I was delighted when they agreed to sell my work.’
Charlene’s work was listed for sale by Jen Creates in Gosport and then she asked to work for MAKE Gosport, a non-profit organisation, to pass on her skill.
She said: ‘So many positive events started, when I began to follow my passion.’
She now runs Compass of the Heart Keepsakes, creating bespoke breastmilk celebration jewellery and memorial keepsakes, and Irregular Artistry, a hand-crafted gifts and homeware business.
Charlene has also joined business network group Mums in Business Int. Networking Portsmouth as a leader - and she hopes to inspire other mums to set up their own businesses.
She said: ‘Our community now has over 300 female entrepreneurs from the local area supporting each other, collaborating and sharing tips.
‘Most importantly we have built friendships. With a group of like minded people, in similar situations around you, hope can be restored.'
For more of Charlene’s work go to facebook.com/irregularartistry.
To join Mums in Business Int. Netwroking Portsmouth go to facebook.com/groups/3761916513917342