Janette Watson, Founder of The Lazarette

Creating nautical rope knot decor for beautiful homes

When I was 19, my boyfriend asked me if I fancied going sailing. He’d just been made redundant, so I thought: ‘Why not? Let’s go and have an adventure!’

Later, we sailed from Falmouth to Northern Spain on a 24ft boat. Young and silly, we never realised the dangers, but we were lucky and had a great time!

Eventually, we lived and worked in the Mediterranean for 10 years. Paul got a job with the MOD and I was hired by a yacht charter company to prep the boats to go sailing. The customers always ordered too much booze, so we’d have amazing parties with the drinks they left behind!

When I got homesick for England, we returned to Falmouth and reconnected with our old friends – continuing to live on classic wooden boats. For the next 15 years I sold equipment for a marine supplies store. All the troubleshooting I’d done at sea proved handy for helping customers. Princess Anne even came in one day looking for advice!

Ever since I read ‘The Ditty Bag Book’ many years ago, I’ve always loved ropework – tying traditional sailing knots and splicing. I was still working at the store when I started making dog leads and keyrings; it was nice to have a hobby that paid!

My product range grew from there and, by the end of 2015, I was able to give up my job altogether. At first, I was worried about working alone because I like to talk a lot, but I got used to my own company.

I’m on a lifelong learning path, so I’ve taught myself accounts, paperwork, photography and website building. Next on my list is email marketing. I mostly sell through Etsy, so I want to grow website sales and get into painting, drawing and delivering workshops.

By changing up classic knots, I’m hoping they’ll become an artform and less utilitarian.

In the 38 years Paul and I have been together, we’ve only lived ashore for three weeks. It amazes me that I can work on an old boat using hand tools that have been around for centuries and sell my wares using modern digital technology. It’s the best of both worlds!

The Lazarette