When did you set up your business and why?

Fabricate was born on 5 February 2018 after receiving devastating news that I had suddenly lost my job of 14 years. I decided it was time to turn my long-time hobby into my career.

It all came about when I created a lampshade for my newborn niece’s nursery, out of necessity when I couldn’t find what I was looking for online or on the high street.

The response was amazing, so that was the start of my lampshade adventures and personalised baby gifts, from handmade personalised bunting to name frames.

Karen teaches workshops in lampshade making and needle felting.

Over the years, my business has transformed and my obsession with textiles has grown. I adore working with all kinds of fabric, wool and fibres.

I am a needle felting artist, which is wool painting, and I incorporate free-motion thread art, which is literally using the needle on my sewing machine like a pencil to draw and add texture to my artwork.

Can you explain your process?

You will see from my work I have a passion for colour. My inspiration is definitely the beauty of the landscape that surrounds us.

I am greatly inspired by the wildlife we have here in our countryside: cows, hares and chickens feature in a lot of my artwork.

Even though I am a city girl from Limerick, my heart definitely belongs in the country. My husband is from Mayo and we just love to go west visiting family and on our holidays every year. We have so much inspiration on our doorstep.

The process I love to use the most in my artwork is needle felting as I mentioned above.

It literally is painting with wool, using specialised needles and I love to use and have sourced local sheep wool that has been hand-dyed here in Ireland in Sligo, Cork and Galway.

What is your best seller?

This is a tough question, as my business has so many elements. I would have to say that my workshops and classes are so popular and to me the most enjoyable element of my business.

I teach lampshade making and I facilitate needle felting classes. These are day classes where you will come and learn new skills.

On the day, you will create a freestanding lampshade or make a needle-felted art piece from scratch and I’ll show you how to frame the piece, so you go home with a framed piece that is ready to hang in your home or makes a perfect gift.

I have a workshop section on my website with more details and dates of upcoming workshops.

What is it about your business that brings you joy?

Doing something you love definitely makes your heart sing, although I am not going to lie; being self-employed is enjoyable, but it’s a lot of hard work. What brings you joy and makes it all worthwhile are your customers.

Karen's work is heavily influenced by country life.

The feedback you receive - whether it is the reaction from a personalised gift, seeing your artwork in their home or seeing their face at the workshops - is so rewarding to know that you have passed on your knowledge and helped share a creative process.

The workshops are for complete beginners and they are amazed that they have made it. That definitely brings them joy and is so rewarding to be a part of it.

What are your hopes for 2023?

Currently, I travel around to some of the secondary schools in Ireland and I teach the felting and lampshade making techniques to the students, working with the art department and the home economic departments in the schools.

Teaching textiles and the elements of sustainability are so important. It is great to see the process of the needle felting and the wool being taught to the kids, so I hope to expand this for 2023.

What advice would you give to another start-up business?

Be prepared: prepared to work really hard, but be prepared to be amazed too. It’s so rewarding.

We have all survived a world pandemic, so I think we are resilient. Knowing your market is so important and staying in your lane. Believe in yourself and keep going. Visit https://fabricateireland.com.

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