Date: 1st June 2021

Mum turns passion for art and design into award-winning business

A MUM whose passion for art and design was reignited as she recovered from postnatal depression has won two prestigious awards, after opening a successful gift shop in Stockton.

Louise Lowes, 39, says art and design got her through a difficult time in her life after she developed postnatal depression following the birth of her daughter in 2014.

Unfortunately, the condition wasn’t picked up very early, but Louise found her own form of therapy in making her trademark wooden Button Head Family pictures to order as bespoke gifts.

Her designs proved so popular, she developed a successful social media business and began taking her products out to craft and market stalls.

Louise, whose background in sales and marketing made her perfect for running her own business, said: “When I was suffering from postnatal depression art and design became a form of freedom and escape.

“I got a laptop and just started creating, putting my commissions on social media and would then get other people asking ‘how do I get one of these’ and that’s how it all started.”

Louise then began buying more gifts with that personal touch she loves – all products which fit in with her love of the natural world and her eco-friendly ethos.

Eventually, Louise had so much beautiful stock to store and transport to craft fairs and events, that - at a time many big names on the High Street began closing their doors in favour of online marketplaces - Louise decided she wanted her own shop.

In September 2018, Lu Lu’s Personal Gifts opened in West Row Stockton and - despite the impact of Covid-19 on the retail sector since then - Louise has never looked back.

She is now the proud recipient of Best Gift Shop in Northern England 2020, from The Corporate Livewire North England Prestige Awards and Best Gift Boutique North East England 2020 at the Northern Enterprise Awards.

Louise has told how so far in 2021 her B2B client base has grown, as corporate clients like Social Services and other employers have come to her in search of inspirational, personalised gifts to help support their staff while working from home.

Louise’s award-winning customer service and mission to “make people smile” has helped larger companies feel more connected to their employees while working remotely.

She said: “The products we offer have been designed and created to give a gift in a meaningful and heartfelt manor and I take such pride in sourcing the right product for the right reason. Tailoring the gifts to meet the objectives of a business and getting it right really helps the organisation to articulate the care, support and recognition of their most valuable assets, which is their staff.

“This makes them perfect for B2B clients right now, who are looking for a unique way to say thanks to their staff.

Research from estimates every £10 spent in a local independent shop ends up with £50 going back into the local economy.

Louise said: “There are so many hidden gems in Stockton and I would encourage people to explore places like Silver Street and West Row and support local independent shops.”

Sam Withers