Hello, My name is Michelle Kreussel. I live in St. Leonards-on-Sea together with my husband, daughter Penelope, and ginger tom Floyd.
I run my business, The Fox In The Attic, from my home studio.
My shop is primarily themed around classic inspirations for children, based on animals and nature.
So, alongside familiar woodland creatures and animals from around the world, customers will be able to find more mythical beasts such as the unicorn.
To compliment this, there are now ranges that draw more from the world of plants and flora, including cactuses, and most recently I have been drawn to ideas of comfort and sweet food to include within my rages, featuring sweet foods and puddings and desserts.
All of these are made with an eye on colour and fun, and to appeal to mothers and children alike.
6.30 am - 7 am
Wake up to the sound of Penelope, my 1-year-old daughter, burbling, chatting and
singing to herself in the nursery next door to my bedroom. My husband and I take alternate mornings to get up with Penelope and do the ‘early shift’.
If it’s my turn, it’s down to the kitchen, give Penelope her milk and Floyd (our ginger cat) his breakfast.
Then it’s on with the coffee pot - essential! - and if Penelope lets me I’ll sew up and finish a few Fox In The Attic toys sat on the sofa.
Over toast and some more coffee at the kitchen table,
I will check my emails, my orders (new ones, current ones, and outstanding ones) and dip my toe into my social media accounts.
After a quick, invigorating shower, it’s downstairs to my studio in the basement of the house.
We had the whole basement converted into a liveable and workable space when we moved in three years ago, including installing new central heating, electricity, laying floors, plastering and painting.
My husband, Wojtek, has his own studio (music) next to mine now. If Wojtek is home, and not away on tour working, he can look after Penelope, which gives me the opportunity to get down to a couple of hours of work, which will include checking all my orders, writing them all down, and planning exactly what needs to be done throughout the rest of the day.
Packing orders - this can be quite involved, as I take great pride and care in packing not only safely and thoroughly, but with an eye on aesthetic detail.
This so every package and every customer can feel special, which is what it’s all about.
I also do a quick stock check, to see what I have against any new orders that have come in.
Back upstairs, to see how Penelope is doing rampaging around the house and checking what chaos she has caused. I put Penelope down for her afternoon nap around 11.30am, and she sleeps for around an hour and a half, giving me and my husband some uninterrupted time to spend how we choose.
Lunch time. It's usually a sandwich, or sometimes Wojtek will go out for sausage rolls from the local bakery, or make something special like salmon and cream cheese bagels.
When Penelope wakes from her nap, my husband will head off to the Post Office to send away any orders that are packed and ready to go. On his way back he’ll pick up whatever we need, usually nappies and milk!
Lunchtime for Penelope. She’ll sit in her high chair at the kitchen table and sometimes have heated up leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. This time is also valuable for interaction and play!
If the day is going well, the weather is not too bad and we have the time and inclination, all three of us can head out toward the beach or to the park to let Penelope get some fresh air, and all spend some time together.
Often we’ll go to the newly re-opened pier, where Penelope loves to run around the open space chasing seagulls, whilst we look on clutching yet another cup of coffee.
Back at home, Wojtek is able to take over so I can have another couple of good hours in the studio. If I can, I’ll stuff my toys up in the living room, so I can be with Penelope a bit more.
I might try some illustration, and work on any new ideas which may have been floating around and percolating through my brain. I’ll fit in some sewing and ironing, too.
Begin preparing Penelope’s dinner in the kitchen, and getting ready for the evening routine.
Feeding Penelope at the kitchen table, always including her favourite foods at the moment, which are tomatoes and avocados, followed by some fruit.
Wojtek will help me with Penelope’s bath time - lots of splashing and laughing, and then dressing in clean pyjamas and brushing hair. Then it’s downstairs for bedtime milk and stories.
Close the nursery shutters and Penelope gets put to bed. Hopefully, this bit doesn’t take too long!
Wojtek makes and serves dinner, and I pour myself a large glass of delicious red wine.
We talk, catch up and plan whatever’s coming up over the next few days and weeks.
I usually can’t help carrying on stuffing toys in front of the telly. Whatever’s on helps remind us what part of the week it is: University Challenge means it’s a Monday, Bake Off is a Wednesday, and Strictly is obviously Saturday, and Countryfile on a Sunday!
Advice for Makers
One piece of advice I could give to anyone starting out on this path, would be to remind yourself that nothing is ever likely to just fall in your lap.
If you want something, you must be prepared to work hard, day after day, night after night, and also be willing and ready to pick yourself up from any set backs or disappointments.
It might sound harsh or even depressing, but it will reap dividends in the end!