When a TV producer phoned up out of the blue and asked Lauren Hickey to make a large macrame rainbow wall hanger for the set of a new ITV thriller, she thought it was a wind up.
Turns out they were deadly serious so Lauren’s colourful rainbow can be seen hanging up in the background in one of the home’s in Hollington Drive, a four-part thriller which was aired on ITV in Autumn.
“It was definitely one of the highlights of my small business journey getting to see one of my pieces on the TV,” said Lauren, 27, from Aberdeen.
The Macra Mum
Lauren’s life changed forever during lockdown when she discovered the joy of macrame, a crafting technique that uses knots to create various textiles.
Using You Tube videos to teach herself, Lauren was soon knotting morning, noon and night before eventually setting up her own macrame home décor and accessories business The Macra Mum.
“It’s one of these things that if you love what you do, then you never work a day in your life and that’s exactly what I feel with this,” said Lauren.
“I enjoy making every single piece and when I send away parcels, every parcel has a hand written note from me which says ‘I hope you love your piece as much as I loved making it’.
“I take so much pride in every single piece that goes out to people’s homes and knowing that they’re going to be permanently displayed or on display seasonally every year.
“It’s such a privilege to make something that someone is going to keep in their home and love and look at all the time.”
From Aberdeen to America
Lauren’s path to be crafting success is a story of drive, determination and the power of having a supportive family behind you.
Born in Aberdeen, Lauren was just four when her dad’s job in the oil and gas industry saw the family move firstly to Denmark and then Houston in America before returning to The Granite City when she was 14.
“I absolutely loved growing up in America, it was great,” said Lauren.
“By the time we moved back to Aberdeen, I did have an American accent although I’m not sure there’s much left of it now although people do say I don’t sound proper Aberdonian.”
Settling back into life in Aberdeen, Lauren attended Meldrum Academy where her creativity shined through in subjects such as Graphic Communications.
After leaving school, Lauren studied architecture at Robert Gordon University (RGU)but after two years she realised her heart wasn’t in it.
Working in bars and restaurants across the city, Lauren was then offered a place to study journalism at RGU but she declined the place after becoming pregnant.
“Falling pregnant was the best thing that’s ever happened to me and my husband Barry,” said Lauren.
Drive and determination
For the next two years, Lauren was a stay-at-home mum until her beautiful son Michael turned two when she embarked on a distanced learning business management degree at RGU
“It was all from home apart from a lecture once a month so it fit really well around having Michael.
“It was a great experience and luckily my husband Barry was super supportive all the way through it.”
Graduating in 2019 in front of her son Michael at Her Majesty’s Theatre was an empowering moment for Lauren.
“Straight after the ceremony Michael said “mummy I would like to have a ceremony like that”, said Lauren.
Following her graduation Lauren started her job hunt but found it difficult to find work that would fit in with Michael.
Then lockdown happened and Lauren – along with every other parent – found herself home schooling her son.
It was during this stressful time that Lauren first discovered macrame as a way of relaxing.
“I loved home schooling Michael but I’m sure everybody can relate to it becoming almost all consuming,” said Lauren.
“So my way of relaxing in the evenings was to craft.
“That’s when I came across a video of macrame on You Tube and I started to teach myself.”
Mental health benefits
With the repetitive nature of the knot tying craft, Lauren immediately felt the mental health benefits macrame.
“A lot of people get macrame mixed up with knitting and crochet because it’s a knot-based fibre art,” said Lauren.
“But it’s not done using hooks it’s just done using your hands.
“It’s very repetitive as you’re often doing the same knot over and over again so it’s very therapeutic.”
Starting off with a snowflake, Lauren now makes everything from plant hangers and coasters to handbags and Christmas decorations.
She’s even roped in Michael and Barry into the family business.
“Michael loves making the macrame key chains, his school bag is full of key chains that he’s made himself.
“It’s funny because I call myself the macrame mum and he calls himself the macrame son.
“Barry can also make macrame although he’s more like my postman.”
Looking back, Lauren is so proud of everything she has set out to achieve.
“It makes me feel empowered as I’m enjoying working for myself, it’s a great feeling.”