This week we are getting to know Nicola Hallman, owner of Fleabubs and Lala – maker of ergonomic crochet hooks and indie yarn dyer.
Nicola launched Fleabubs and Lala in 2012 and since then has become a firm favourite in the crochet community with her beautiful hand-crafted hooks and colourful yarns. In 2017 operations at Fleabubs HQ moved into the ‘Yarn Barn’ which as a busy Mum of 3 meant the family home could have a kitchen again! So as a Supermum and successful Business Owner how does Nicola find time to do it all? Let’s find out some more about this talented lady.
What first inspired you to pick up a crochet hook?
I have always been arty, and crafty and had tried to knit a few times. When my Daughter was born I was determined that I would be able to crochet her a cute hat. I had a few people try to teach me (one of whom was our Jem) before embarking on a short beginners course. Something clicked into place and that was that......I have been yielding a hook ever since!
What was the first thing you made?
The first proper item I made was an owl hat for my Son, which we still have somewhere......it was ok for a 1st attempt!
What is the story behind the name Fleabubs and Lala?
OK, easy bit first......by some friends I was nicknamed Nicolala, which became Lala over time, I think it coincided with my body morphing into that of a teletubby! The ‘Fleabubs’ part is named after a stuffed toy I made for my Daughter, from her newborn sleepsuits and baby grows.
What are the benefits of an ergonomic crochet hook?
An ergonomic hook will give you so much more comfort than a standard metal hook, especially if you are hooking for a longer period of time. The traditional hooks I designed have a unique shape, with two indents for thumb and palm. I also make other shape to suit. My personal preference has a thumb indent and a rounded shaft. I have also had customers photograph their own hold, and have made a hook specifically for them. The handles are particularly good for anyone with arthritis, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia and other handle joint issues. The colourful ones are also easier to find when you pop them down somewhere and forget where!
Your colourful hooks often feature characters too – do you take custom orders?
Absolutely!! As well as colour preferences I also make character hooks, with unicorns, cats, dogs and even Poldark and Harry Potter characters! I am happy to try pretty much anything that can fit on a hook!
What aspect of running your business do you most enjoy?
Definitely the variety, no two days are the same. It can be really difficult when you are doing everything, from admin and parcel wrapping to yarn painting and building an image of a character onto something the size of a finger tip, but I love every second, and feel really lucky to be doing something I have such a passion for.
The other aspect is the colour.....all the colour....I am a colour geek and really like to play with mixing, contrasting colours and tones, and all that good stuff!!
What has been the most challenging aspect of running Fleabubs and Lala?
Fitting everything in with family life, and home life. I don’t wake up, get dressed and go to an office anymore......my days can be really disjointed with school runs, unexpected poorly children, vet visits, and all the other random bits that come with family life. I spend too many evening and weekends doing odd bits and pieces, when I could be spending time with my children, but I am trying to fix that
As a busy Mum as well as a business owner what are the secrets of balancing your home and work life?
I have no idea......I have been winging it for the past few years!!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to start a handmade business?
Be prepared to work really really hard, and be prepared for the colossal amount of time you spend on a admin and social media posting, in order for it to pay off. You have to go all in for it to work.....and brush up on customer service skills!!
What’s on your hook at the moment?
Which one??!!! I have many, many, many WIP bags on the go!! I have a top I am making for me, one for Eliza, another I am designing to release as a pattern, along with a cardigan I am also designing.....there are at least two shawls, and some yoga socks.......and then I also have stuff on the needles!!
What can we look forward to from Fleabubs and Lala in the future?
Hopefully more collaborations *nudge*, lots more colour, fun hooks and some new patterns!