Kate Hughes, Founder of Finger & Thumbs

Specialising in handmade personalised gifts such as silver fingerprint jewellery, 3D casts and ceramic handprints

I live and breathe anything associated with art and design; when I’m creating something, it’s the best feeling in the world!

Mum was a teacher and my biggest driver when I was younger. She encouraged me to continue my education and study a foundation course in art, and I’m so pleased I listened to her because it shaped everything that was to come.

Originally from Stockport, I went on to study an Art degree in Birmingham. Looking back, it was a privilege to have had all that time to study and to be able to fully express myself creatively.

When I graduated, it was time to think about next steps… I knew I was good artistically, but I lacked the self-belief to turn professional, so mum – with all my best intentions at heart – convinced me to become a teacher.

I went on to have a 15-year career in the classroom, which I loved initially and gave it my all – becoming head of department at schools in Hull and Surrey. I’d moved down to Surrey to be with my then boyfriend; we’re married now with three boys.

After having my second child in 2011, I realise now – with the benefit of hindsight – that I was living with depression. Struggling with fatigue and the responsibility of being the main breadwinner, with the mortgage to pay and a young family – as well as losing my grandparents around the same time – things were difficult. I was functioning but numb for four years before asking for help; then, with medication, I experienced a further two years with severe anxiety. Becoming a mum changed me… I had a burning desire to be with my children, to do something new and to fix myself.

Now back in Stockport, I started my business two years ago after seizing the opportunity to leave a franchise I’d been involved with for a couple of years. I now specialise in making keepsakes – including 3D casts, silver imprint jewellery and ceramics. It’s been a steep learning curve – getting to grips with lots of new business-related responsibilities – but knowing I’m creating gifts and capturing moments which families will treasure forever is extremely special.

I feel excited and alive!

Finger & Thumbs