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Nicole freelances as a comms manager within the creative industries. You can find a selection of Nicole's comms work, here.

Meet Rachel & Lyndsey: Two friends who have crafted their way to happiness

“Lyndsey and I have always enjoyed working together, and so we thought, ‘Why not set up in business together?’.” I’m chatting to Rachel Willis who, alongside her friend, Lyndsey Stephenson set up Make & Mend – a small business born from a mutual desire to share mindful mending, and handcrafted happiness, with the world. “Rachel and I have the same work ethic,” Lyndsey adds. “We met at Stockton Council, and worked on lots of different projects together, including Stockton Festival. As Rachel will attest, we’ve always worked really well together.”

It was in the midst of life’s more difficult periods that the seeds of Make & Mend were sown. After a patch where things felt like they were falling apart at the seams, Rachel turned to her love of sewing, and Lyndsey found strength and healing in yoga and wellbeing. “I’ve always been a maker and a designer,” Rachel tells me. “My experience of making is something I have always turned to when things are difficult; being made redundant was one of those periods where crafting was my stress-relief!” 

For Lyndsey, self-confidence has long been a struggle, but practising mindfulness and wellbeing techniques has provided some relief. “Self-confidence has always been a struggle; I’ve had to push myself at work,” she explains. “Wellbeing has allowed me to value myself a bit more, and so, when redundancy came up, I was brave enough to think, ‘We can do this!’”

At Make & Mend, Rachel and Lyndsey combine craft and wellbeing via embroidery kits and workshops, and, this July, the two friends are putting on their first ever Make & Mend Festival. “We were really surprised by how open people were when attending our workshops,” Rachel says. “By sitting and sewing, you don’t feel as conscious of talking to others about your confidence or your feelings.” The workshops led the pair to thinking about what else they could do to share their mantra: a stitch in time mends the mind. And so, through utilising their backgrounds in events and festival-planning, the Make & Mend Festival was born.

Taking place on July 1 at Preston Park Museum and Grounds in Stockton-on-Tees, the Make & Mend Festival promises to be a day of craft, colour and self-care. “We’re taking over the indoor and outdoor spaces,” Rachel shares, excitedly. “We’ll have a programme of talks, craft demonstrations, workshops, a zen garden, and also a small craft market. We wanted to have a real mix of different activities, so that people can come along and design their own day!”

“Even just going along to arts events, such as the Make & Mend Festival, is a way of switching off,” adds Lyndsey. “It’s about self-care, and it’s about doing something beneficial for yourself!”

Early-bird tickets to the Festival start from £20 and include access to the Festival for the entire day, plus a workshop of your choice. Workshops can also be added to your order, for an additional cost of just £8, meaning you can fill your day as you please! So, whether you fancy learning the art of brush-lettering, making an on-trend terrarium for your home or even joining in a yoga or wellbeing session, the choice, as they say, is yours!

For Rachel and Lyndsey, it was important to host the Festival within the place they call home: Stockton. “We’re really passionate about working not only in the North East and the Tees Valley, but in our home town, too,” Lyndsey stresses. “Stockton gets a lot of bad press but, like anywhere in the country, there are negative parts, but there are also lots of positive aspects.” Preston Park is one major positive. Adds Rachel: “Preston Park Museum is a very relaxing place to spend the day. Plus, it’s really easy to get to!” 

The two women haven’t stopped with just the venue, when it comes to staying local – the Festival’s many workshop leaders and speakers are local, too! “All of our speakers and leaders are local to either Stockton, the Tees Valley or Durham,” Lyndsey smiles. “As we grow, we might have to go a bit further afield, which is okay, but we will keep things local where we can.”

Growing is something I talk about at length with both Rachel and Lyndsey. With a brand as strong as Make & Mend, and with a message that resonates with all manner of people, I truly am looking forward to hearing what the women behind the brand get up to next. “We’ve achieved a massive amount in a short amount of time,” beams Lyndsey. “We want to be able to spread our message as far, and as wide, as we can,” Rachel chips in.

It is clear, from talking to the two friends, that their message comes from within. From Lyndsey’s yoga and wellbeing sessions, and Rachel’s soulful embroidering, the proof really is in the pun: that a stitch in time certainly mends the mind.

Tickets for Make & Mend Festival are available via Eventbrite, and start from just £20 before 11 June, and £25, thereafter. Ticket-holders can choose one workshop to attend, as well as gaining access to the Festival for the full day. Additional workshops can be purchased via Eventbrite for only £8 per session. Make & Mend Festival is on Sunday 1 July at Preston Park Museum & Grounds. For more information, please go to the Make & Mend website: https://makemend.co.  

Originally written on behalf of CRYSTLSD client, Make & Mend Co. Image credit: Clare Bowes.

Nicole MullenComment