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COMMUNITY Making Beautiful Things by Abigail MacNiven

Out of a passion for lace and ribbons, a yearning to use my creative talent, a need to have my own business again as well as too long living amidst magnolia woodchip walls and exposed pipes (all requiring an eye diversion!). The Ribbon Drawer was born.


o stranger to setting up a business, before getting married I set up as a PR consultant, employing

copywriters, web designers and photographers to work alongside me and provide a freelance PR agency to my client base across Yorkshire. However ‘Purple Dragonfly PR’ soon went into hibernation and after emigrating north in support of my husband I temped as a PA.

Now, two children later, Florance, nearly 4 and Reuben nearly 2, I spend my day building block towers and singing nursery rhymes. I am a wife, mother, cleaner, family diarist, cook, ironer and ‘removal chick’! The list is endless, some I love, some I’m proud of, others I’d rather delegate to someone else! From Waddington, my husband spends on average six months away from home every year and I needed something to escape into. The Ribbon Drawer is a hobby, a passion, a creative vent, the ‘me time’ I have been desperately craving for a while.

I come from a string of creative women and have grown up having seen family members create and make beautiful things. I’ve inherited a lot of traits from my Granny, I’m happy to say and it’s her collection of vintage laces, ribbons and buttons which I particularly treasure. Now it’s just a matter of working with them to make beautiful things she would have loved.

All my products are handmade by me; a range of wooden treasures which will look fabulous nestled and hung in and around your home. My growing collection includes stars, hearts, a range of chickens and dogs, crowns, box pictures and Christmas decorations. All items are hand-cut by me and hand-painted using Farrow and Ball paint, then embellished with a selection of fabulous ribbons (of course!) and beautiful buttons.

Most items can be personalised with a message for a loved one, a thank you note or with a child’s name and date of birth. In

44 Envoy Winter 2011

addition, I make a selection of fabric heart cushions with vintage fabrics, vintage lace and ribbons. A giftwrap service is available with tags made with classical images from beautiful old books.

I’m lucky to have an artist in the family who helps me draw up my designs. We have converted the garage into a workshop and, in the evenings, I can usually be found clad in warm clothes, goggles and a dust mask working with my saws and tools at my sturdy work bench for hours on end. It is hard work, made even harder after a full day trying to keep up with two toddlers, but I really enjoy it.

The stars were my first product, I like the idea of having something other than a heart hanging in the home – I love hearts but stars are fun and versatile too. Chickens followed…three designs, Marjory, Rebecca Pecker and Slim Marge – deep down I’m a frustrated chicken owner – I’d love to rescue some battery girls but at the moment it’s just not the right time.

Dogs came next; I wanted quirky and stylish designs so I chose a dachshund and a wire- haired fox terrier.They look smart and chic displayed on a fireplace or even hanging in the bathroom or kitchen, bit of a retro style home accessory.

As a one off I designed a crown to go on Reuben’s wooden fort in the garden but it was snapped up immediately on launch night so I’ve since made more and they are proving really popular. I’ve made smaller sizes for Christmas tree decorations as well as a gorgeous sleek reindeer which I can’t wait to hang!

I have a range of box pictures featuring several designs including butterflies, ducks, flowers and my ‘a star is born’ map picture; made with vintage maps and embellished with ribbons and buttons, to celebrate the birth of a baby, a christening or with different wording; a unique wedding gift.

In August I had a two evening launch event, I had great support from my Mum,

husband and friends to ensure everything went smoothly. The launch was a great success and I really appreciated the support the other military wives gave to my new venture, particularly one, a graphic designer who designed my logo. I have a number of Christmas events booked already which I’m really excited about and as soon as I have a minute I am going to update more products on my Etsy shop!

I’m really enjoying the challenge of getting this little business up and running and the best feeling is when Flora sees something new I’ve made and she says, “Oh Mummy! That’s gorgeous, and very delicate, please can I hold it just a little bit, I will be very gentle…. Wow, I love it!”

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