I started by little business back in lockdown 2020, but I've been crocheting since I was about 8 after my gran taught me one summer - I was absolutely addicted from the get go.
A lot of people ask me where I got the idea to start my business, why I do it, how I get inspiration and all sorts of things online, so I thought I'd put it out onto my website in blog form so that I could answer properly each time and not in short.
I thought I would start off with one of the most common questions I get asked - a bit of back story about why I started Hooked By Lou. It's a culmination of lots of things that I've experienced in life, and ultimately it's just where I feel happiest for now. I don't feel like I ever properly answer this when people ask me online and they definitely get the very edited PG version, but for anyone that's interested in the real juicy stuff, here you go!
So, where to begin?
When I was about 16/17, I began to move on from crocheting squares and turning them into big ugly blankets, and started experimenting with wearable garments for myself and friends. This soon took on, and I become known for it in my school, and would make and sell bralettes for girls that I'd never even engaged with before - one even wore one of my crochet tops for Leaver's Ball!
At 18, I wasn't like most of the other people in my school that desperately wanted to go to uni, so I chose to do an Art Foundation Degree at Manchester Metropolitan University instead, which was one of the best years of my life, and I would 100% recommend it to anyone that enjoys art and being creative.
This is where it gets a bit personal.
In May 2017, my big brother, Martyn Hett, was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing, and it turned my world upside down for a while. Instead of going to uni in the September to start my fashion degree, I spun into a pretty dark place with absolutely zero hope for my future, no idea what path I was on, and feeling really sorry for myself all the time as I watched my peers enjoy uni life on social media. I was angry at the world for taking everything away from me; my happiness, my future, my brother.
I wondered in and out of jobs for the next few years. I was a charity shop manager, had a couple of marketing/PR jobs, but I always felt extremely unfulfilled, and wished I was at home crocheting instead. Still coping with the loss of my brother, it was a safe space for me in a world that had shown me nothing but horror and loss and the worst of humanity.
When lockdown hit, I was put on furlough for a short while, and my anxiety was the worst it had ever been. I tried to put as much energy as I could into crochet, and was creating bralettes every day and showing them off on my Instagram stories. I was soon taking on custom orders, and sending them out to friends all over the place, so I decided to create an Instagram account dedicated to crochet. Hooked By Lou was born!
It kind of took off way more than I ever imagined it to. Soon I had 1000 followers, then 2000, then 10,000, and I was taking on orders back to back from strangers from the internet - STRANGERS were buying my things, it blew my mind.
I was sat at my desk every day in the office counting down the hours, minutes, seconds until I could go back home and crochet. My brother's death played on my mind a lot and really affected how I felt every day, and I didn't really realise at the time.
Is this all there is to my life? I wake up to go to work, I come home, I sleep. Repeat. I want to do something that I enjoy, that makes an impact on the world in some sort of way. I don't want to die unhappy in a job that I hate. I don't want to just be Martyn's grieving sister, I want to do something else that defines me.
It was getting to the point where evenings weren't enough time for me to do my orders. I lived a really modest lifestyle, I had savings, I had a partner that supported me, and I decided to take the plunge and quit.
It was instant relief. My month notice period dragged and dragged but when it finished I was free!
Since then, there's been plenty of ups and down with running the business, but I wouldn't change a thing so far. It might not be forever, but for now I'm much happier in myself while I have this. I'm working on myself. I'm allowing myself to have a time out from the real world, and I'm really trying to make this work as something sustainable for me in the future.
I'm sure my brother would have been my number one cheerleader if he was still here. He had a huge personality, was always supportive and uplifting to be around and was a big believer in doing what YOU want to do in life instead of worrying what other people think. When I break it down, that's really what I'm trying to embody in my business and with my designs. Life is too short to follow the 9-5 if you don't feel that's what you're cut out to do. I'm 24 and I CROCHET for a living, who cares if that's not normal, I'm happy, I'm not hurting anyone, and I'm making enough money to get by for now. Maybe one day I'll feel like this will have served its purpose for me and move on, maybe it will really take off and I'll be hiring people down the line... Who knows?
All I know is that making colourful crochet designs for people all over the world makes my heart feel warmer, and brings me lots of joy every day. I don't wake up and cry in the car on the way into work anymore. I wake up excited to get my crochet hook out and create.