In this new series, we feature inspiring women who have A Bit on the Side and aren’t afraid to admit it! This week we’re featuring an actual super-woman! Here’s Sally Evans:
Tell us about yourself
I’m Mum to a rather spirited 3 year old little girl, and also have a 10 year old fur-baby Westie. We’ve lived on the beautiful Isle Of Wight for almost 2 years, and love exploring the varying countryside the island offers.
Tell us about your day job and your bit on the side
I work full time as a Local Area Coordinator, working alongside a variety of people exploring their skills and talents, and helping them work towards their vision of a “good life”. I work with a large amount of people who find their mental health challenging, and with this in mind I’ve recently helped set up The Crochet Cafe, which is spreading across the island with 3 venues set up in the last 6 months and more in the pipeline. There’s been a lot of media coverage in the last two weeks about how crafts have been scientifically proven to help reduce anxiety and depression, boost endorphins, lift mood and in general help people feel happier and more valued, and this is our aim with The Crochet Cafe. Primarily this is a free social group, for any age, with the opportunity to learn a new skill (again for free, to make it accessible to everybody) which can then benefit others. Since starting in October 2017, we’ve worked on hats for the homeless, hats for newborn babies and pom poms for the hospital traffic light system in special care units (to determine the level of care and input for a specific baby).
When I take off my Local Area Coordination hat, I also own and manage The Purple Turtle, specialising in hand cut paper art and crochet clothing (this is most definitely my down-time happy place!).
Back in 2015, I created the group All Things Baby on Facebook (along with a very dear friend of mine) when our babies were at that adult-conversation-deprivation stage, which has grown into a wonderfully supportive community and a great source of info and help for parents nationally.
And when I find a spare few minutes in the day (!), I’ve recently headed up a team of passionate parents to launch the Watch Me Grow campaign; an initiative to encourage children to plant, grow and (hopefully) eat more fruit and veg this summer.
How did your bit on the side come about?
I’ve always had a passion for crafts and creating things, and after the birth of Eliza in 2014, I realised I needed something to help me relax and de-stress at the end of a day. When I “found” papercutting and crochet, I realised I wanted to take it further, and turn it into a business. As a result, The Purple Turtle was born in January 2017, and has gone from strength to strength. I was never any good at art at school, so papercutting is my way of creating art without the embarrassment of not being able to freehand even a stick man!
What’s the best part of having a bit on the side?
I love the fact that my items make people happy. Having someone send a picture of their framed papercut on the wall, or their child wearing something I’ve created through crochet is just priceless, and really heart warming. And I’m immensely proud of the community that All Things Baby has become in a relatively short space of time. From a personal point of view, the best part of having a bit on the side for me is that it’s extremely therapeutic and relaxing. It allows me to unwind after a testing day with a toddler, or an emotionally challenging day at work.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Time management! Some days it’s incredibly hard to juggle everything, to find time to get everything done and to keep everybody happy (myself included!). But it’s a work in progress, and I’m always looking for tips on how to improve – we never stop learning.
What’s your advice for others looking for a bit on the side?
Without a doubt, do what makes you happy. If you have a spark or passion for something, run with it. But also, have realistic expectations – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Do your research, but ultimately if you have a burning desire to try something, or an idea that’s waking you up at night, go for it!
What are your hopes for the next 12 months?
I’d love to see more Crochet Cafe’s on the island, that would be amazing. Just seeing the benefits of people coming together with a common interest, discovering new friendships and building support networks makes me very happy. From a bit on the side point of view, The Purple Turtle has grown faster than I’d imagined in the last 12 months, so more of the same would be great! And it’d be a fantastic achievement to see the Watch Me Grow campaign successfully establish around the UK. We’d love to get schools and community projects involved, recruit more Ambassadors to help and encourage others, and we’d love to find some sponsorship to help provide seeds and equipment to those who may struggle to get these for themselves. How amazing would it be to see more children willingly eating fruit and veg – especially that they’ve grown themselves?!
If you’d like to feature in A Bit on the Side, get in touch!