Bianca Crofts was born in Walsrode, Hannover. Having met her British army ex Husband, based in a camp near her parent’s home in Germany at age 17, they were married a year later. Bianca had her daughter, Victoria shortly after, then a son named Benjamin 2 years later. The family moved together and over the years and had many different postings from London, Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Germany again. Eventually they settled in Lincoln where they bought a house. Bianca has since lost a husband but gained a wonderful granddaughter.
Like many of the crafter businesses we speak to, for many years Bianca had never done more craft work than the standard knitting and crochet lessons at school. In 2001, Bianca met the woman who would introduce her to the craft that would become her life. Daniela, who lived next door and was also German, had been doing traditional patchwork for many years. Convincing Bianca to try, Daniela lent her sewing machine, cutter and ruler to her new neighbour. With no jobs around, Bianca was home most of the day, so as Daniela showed her the basics, Patchwork quickly became her hobby.
The problem with a hobby such as this is no one realises the expense. The fabrics required to make just one quilt were exceptionally expensive. However, Bianca loved her new hobby. The highlight of her month became the fabric-shopping trip in Limassol, the only fabric shop in Cyprus at the time, an hour away from their home. Bianca made her first bed sized quilt for her daughter as a surprise Christmas present in 2002, having worked on the gift while Victoria was at school. Now 25 years old, Victoria is still using her quilt in her own home.
As the family moved back to Germany, Bianca continued her hobby for a short while. Now having to return to work, while also caring for her two children, there was no longer the time to patchwork. Having only made the odd quilt, tablecloth and wall hangings during this time. Bianca didn’t begin quilting again until she got her own office/sewing room when they moved into their house in Lincoln.
In 2014 Bianca decided she liked the idea of baby keepsake blankets, made out of babies outgrown first clothes. With this idea, Bianca thought she may be able to start a business for the very first time. Approaching local information pages, Bianca began to ask whether anyone would be willing to trust her with their child’s precious clothing to make a keepsake quilt. Offering the service at just material cost, which at the time was around £20, Bianca received a lot of offers. Selecting the first lady who had commented, Bianca made her very first ‘Bee my memory’ keepsake quilt. Little Zak’s mum loved it!
The Facebook page was set up, just for fun at the time. With friends calling Bianca ‘B’ or ‘Bee’, Bee my memory was born. Making another quilt, this time for a little girl at cost price through the local information page again, Bianca had 2 examples to start. Finding a lack of interest when the page opened, Bianca noticed people were not willing to pay the price she believed they were worth.
Taking around 10-12 hours to complete a large cot size blanket, and cost prices of around £25 materials per blanket, the products were high cost. Losing a bit of faith in the business, Bianca stopped again until September 2016. When visiting her daughter Victoria and granddaughter Lillie, Victoria showed her mum another facebook page. The woman Victoria found also made memory blankets, she had not been doing it for long but the business was doing fantastic. Victoria reassured her mum; “yours are far far better than hers and you can tell yours are better made too, give it another shot, I believe you can make this work”. This time when Bianca started again she had the confidence in her work that she needed. Having the choice between making blankets as quick and cheap as possible, with a low quality end product, or sticking to what she believed in, Bianca knew what to do. As she began promoting on Facebook and building a portfolio of work though a few giveaway competitions Bianca’s page came a long way. As Bee my memory was beginning to pick up, it also began to receive a lot of good reviews and compliments.
In January, Bianca had an awful fall when slipping on ice, breaking her leg in three places. As she wasn’t able to work for 9 weeks, suddenly Bianca had lots of time to start networking, making connections and promoting her business. This time made a huge difference to Bee my memory. With a few orders as Bianca came out of the hospital, her partner Rick set up the sewing machine in the lounge. Having to train her left leg to work the sewing machine pedal, the project was hard work and took three times as long to complete. However Bianca managed to complete the orders.
Bianca took a slow and steady approach to her business, having taken things step by step from learning the craft, to testing the product and building an audience. Sometimes even taking a step backwards, by taking things one step at a time Bianca now has an incredible business that not only her customers believe in, but she also believes in. Sometimes to succeed it’s not only about reaching the top and hitting your goals. Sometimes it’s about taking things one step at a time, learning as you go and building slowly, and sometimes it’s about being able to step back, review and see yourself and your business honestly. To step back, and see yourself honestly, to admit the mistakes you see and to believe in the potential you see, you will know your strengths and weaknesses. By stepping back and taking some time, Bianca now believes in herself and her work, valuing it as she should. If you don’t value yourself and believe in yourself, your customers never will. Now, Bee my memory has over 1000 likes and every one of her 16 reviews is 5* on Facebook. Bianca has seen great business growth within her hobby turned business, and we expect to continue to see incredible things from them.