One of the (many) things I took away from Blogtacular was that I need to be myself. Especially here. So, with that in mind, and because I’m feeling like finding my niche has given the blog a fresh start, this is me…
I’m Victoria, but most people call me Toria. I’ve never liked being called Vicky. I’m from Birmingham, well, Solihull if you’re being technical, and have lived here my whole life aside from a year spent in Manchester after I graduated.
My degree was in Primary Education, with a specialism in History, and I loved every minute of it (despite the debt I’m still in over ten years later). Teaching was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I worked in a school in Birmingham, and that’s where I met Andy who was our IT guy.
I have endometriosis and was told that, without IVF, I would never have children. Somehow I managed to beat those odds twice and have two daughters, Eleanor and Phoebe. I also have a step-daughter. After Eleanor was born I made the tough decision not to return to work; childcare was too expensive and I knew that senior management were unlikely to allow me to return part-time too. I do often wonder whether I should go back to teaching, but I still don’t feel the time is right at the moment. Andy and I run our own IT business, and although it’s not my passion, I do appreciate the flexibility it gives us!
As far as passions go, I taught myself to sew when Eleanor was a baby and I’ve never looked back. I taught myself using my late Grandma’s sewing machine and I am full of regret that I didn’t ever ask her to teach me. My Grandma is one of the biggest influences on my life even though she passed away when I was 16. I miss her every day.
Sewing has led me on an interesting journey over the past few years. I started a business making children’s clothes, which started on Etsy, and my first blog came about because I wanted to keep track of the other things I was making. I had a bit of a light bulb moment when I learnt how to do screen-printing, which coincided with Eleanor wanting clothes that had dinosaurs on. I changed the focus of Little Squish to be unisex, bright and fairly dinosaur-based. I won awards, got featured in local press and had some wholesale customers. Sadly, life events and anxiety got the better of me and I took an extended break from the business.
After I became a parent, I really struggled with my sense of self and identity. Sewing really helped me with that – I was able to sew the clothes I wanted to wear and express myself. Don’t be fooled though, despite my penchant for loud clothing and my current pink hair, I’m not a loud person at all. I’m definitely opinionated and sarcastic, but mostly I’m self-deprecating and very reserved until I get to know people.
Over the past few years, I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety. I’ve been medicated and had counselling. I’ll always be open and honest about it because I think mental health should be discussed, not hidden away. I feel like I’m just emerging from another tunnel of depression after my Nan passed away last September; it was a tough time that seemingly caused my whole family to implode. I’m still struggling with the impact of that, but it’s getting easier. One thing I can take away from this year is that although my brother and I may not see eye to eye on a lot of things, I know he’ll always be there.
Last year I discovered a new hobby, by accident. Eleanor started karate lessons and we decided to all join in as well. It’s funny to me that I willingly go to karate lessons when I was the girl hiding in the loo during PE lessons! Karate has been fantastic for both for my body and mind, and I have so much respect for our Sensei. Oss!
I started Thimble End because I wanted a fresh start and I’m so excited about how I’m changing things now because it feels like another new start. It feels right. It might surprise some people that I want to give my blog an eco focus, but actually I’ve been more and more interested in eco and ethical issues since I had my girls. We’ve used cloth nappies, cloth wipes, organic baby products, switched from washing powder to an Ecoegg, tried to buy more organic and local food produce, supported smaller companies, and more besides. I’m looking forward to give my sewing a more sustainable approach too.