If you love scanning Instagram to see snapshots of seemingly immaculate homes with picture-perfect nursery decor, then it’s likely you’ll have come across a name garland or cot mobile, hand-made by Hazel Morris. She set up her business, The Secret Craft House, after the birth of her first child and since then, she has been focused on making cute and contemporary nursery decorations that have been cherished by many, including the odd celebrity parent or two! Did I mention she accomplished this in just two years – and found time to birth her second gorgeous tiny human! I’m sure you’ll agree – she’s very worthy of the mumspiration title.
Hi Hazel, Please start by telling us a little about your family.
My family is, me, Andy – my husband – and our children, Teddy, who is three and a half and Clementine, who is five months.
I’m guessing now you see yourself as ‘mum’ before anything else; who did you identify as before you became a parent?
I was very much a career girl – I’d always been really focused on my career in London. I had decided to go into buying when I was at uni and the end goal was always to be a buyer. I worked my way up the ladder through my twenties and by the time I had my first child, Teddy, that was what I was doing. I was buying shoes by then, but I hadn’t always bought shoes. I’d previously bought accessories and at one point I went through a funny phase of buying hairdryers and electrical goods – that was odd!
What have you achieved since becoming a parent?
My main achievement is having my two babies and starting The Secret Craft House. I suppose I have three babies, two human ones and my little business. I never expected to be running my own business. I always thought I’d be that mum who, after having her children, would go back to work after six months – I mean – how hard can it be to commute into London everyday with a child? I’m good a multi-tasking [laughter]… Seriously though, I take my hat off to the mothers who are able to do this. It can’t be at all easy.
So, what were your motivations behind starting The Secret Craft House?
I had a year off for maternity and then when I started to talk to the company I had previously been working for about going back, it just became clear that we weren’t going to be able to reach a compromise at all. With the travel to consider as well, I felt returning to my old job wasn’t going to work without a full-time nanny! I had a couple of months before I started up The Secret Craft House, where I just felt completely redundant. Teddy was sleeping a lot more by then and I had a bit more time to play around with. I just thought, I need to fill this time. I had got him to a year old – we’d both survived – and I felt that I needed to be doing something for me. I needed to be creative, I wanted something else to focus on aside from my baby.
Have their been any pivotal moments in your success?
Yes. I applied a couple of times to sell on Not On The High Street, but the first time I was rejected. So, I invested in my photography and did a photo shoot in London. I reapplied and got accepted in April 2016. That was a pivotal moment; it was the dream for me.
With two young children now, how do you manage childcare (and if such a thing even exists) a work/life balance?
Working from home, I have to work really flexibly; I have to juggle a lot of things. I am working a little less since having two children – I chose to shut the shop for a while after I had Clementine. She’s nearly six months now and we’re starting to find a rhythm. Teddy – my eldest – goes to preschool for three and half days a week and on one of those days I’m lucky to have my mum around to help take care of Clementine for me. This gives me around eight hours of (sort of) uninterrupted work. Apart from that, I do sometimes work on an evening for an hour or two and then on a weekend my husband occasionally looks after the children so I can work. We haven’t got the work/life balance figured out quite yet, but it’s working for us for now.
With everything you have to juggle, what do you do for self-care? Any tips?
I think it’s really important to have even just an hour to be out of the house. I go to Pilates on a Wednesday and I do a Bounce class – my daughter’s there with me, but she’s quite happy watching me from the floor – and I love it! I don’t think it matters what it is, but I think it’s really important to just do something. I go out about once a month with my local friends to the pub. It’s nice to have a sense of getting a bit of your own time back.
How would you describe a typical working day?
It’s varied. A lot of the time at the moment I’m in front of the sewing machine, catching up on orders. Jobs like replying to emails, posting on social media, taking photos, I tend to do in the evenings or when I’m feeding. It’s really, really ad hoc. Sometimes on the one o’ clock feed I’m sitting there replying to emails – I did that last night actually.
What do you enjoy most about running The Secret Craft House?
I just like that the opportunities are down to me. I’m not going to get stuck in a rut because I’m always thinking about what’s next. I have a lot of ideas, it’s just finding the time to implement them… but I know I will at some point and I enjoy being in control of that.
What do you think has been your biggest challenge to date?
I think things like social media are really tricky, especially since they frequently change algorithms. I find it a bit of a minefield because I’m not that way minded. I think when you run your own business – even a small business – you have to have knowledge about all of these things. You have to be quite savvy and whilst I’m a creative person, I don’t have a background in digital media. How do I get myself out there? How do I reach the most amount of people I need to reach? It’s just a minefield. Facebook is a disaster for me. I have about 400 followers, but I find it impossible to get new followers. I post on there, but it’s more for my friends to see. Instagram is the platform that works for me because it’s so visual. Pinterest is also a good one; I’ve had a couple of pins that have had about four thousand repins now and they link back to my shop. It’s like a snowball effect – it’s hard to get one repin, but once you’ve got one, then two, then three, it snowballs.
What’s your proudest achievement in business so far?
Creating my website was quite a big deal for me because as I said, I’m not a web designer or technically minded. I’ve also grown the business to have quite a few regular customers now. I’ve got customers who every time one of their friends has had a baby they come straight to me and that’s a really nice feeling.
Are there any hopes or aspirations for The Secret Craft House that you’d like to share?
I want to grow it, but I want to grow it in a way that doesn’t involve me working more hours at a sewing machine, because that was never the idea. I think it’s quite tiring work, it’s quite intricate, you have to be quite focused, I never wanted to do more than two days a week in front of the sewing machine. Maybe in the future I’ll employ people, or introduce products that aren’t so labour intensive. My new product that I’m excited about are my craft kits, which are designed for adults to make for their children. For people who like doing crafts, perhaps on an evening, it makes it easier because you don’t have to go out and buy all the separate bits – needles, materials, threads to match. They’re still personalised, you can still select your own choice of colours and materials, everything you will need comes together in a box to help you make your own personalised nursery decoration. It’s taken a lot of work to design the kits, and I’m almost ready to launch them now. It will be exciting to see what feedback they receive.
Finally, would you share some sparkly words of wisdom that motherhood has taught you?
It’s definitely taught me to go with the flow a bit more and to be more patient. The other thing it has taught me is to be more conscious of putting everything down, to make time to enjoy playing with my children… They’re only small for a short time and I’m trying to live in the moment with them more.
Thank-you Hazel. I think we’re probably all guilty of not living in the moment as much as we should. You really are inspiration and your products are beautiful.
You can check out and buy Hazel’s picture-perfect nursery decorations directly from her website, secretcrafthouse.com.
You can also admire and follow her progress on Instagram, @secretcrafthouse.