Kate Lowry, Owner of The Ribbon Rose Studio

A keepsake boutique creating bespoke personalised memory items using loved ones’ clothing to treasure for many years to come 

For many years, whilst working a number of office jobs, I’d dream about doing something creative for a living using my well-loved sewing machine; thankfully my dream came true!

Gran taught me to sew when I was five and since then I’ve attended all sorts of courses that have both challenged and excited me. Originally from New Zealand, I applied for a 12-month scholarship when I was 15 to go and study in Japan – attending high school and living with a Japanese family in Toyohashi. A totally immersive experience, I was fluent in Japanese within 12 weeks and it was here I had the opportunity to learn to make teddy bears at an afternoon sewing club I’d enrolled on. I only made a few bears, but I kept the pattern – a decision which has proved life-changing.

After growing up and completing a degree in Japanese & Education, I headed back to Japan and taught English for a few years. During this time, I met my now husband, who’s English, and he persuaded me to head back to the UK with him for a year before returning. Fifteen years later, we’re still here!

When I was on maternity leave with my youngest daughter Annabel in 2015, I spent evenings and weekends building up what would become The Ribbon Rose Studio. I started out making memory quilts, but when someone suggested teddies, I dug out my pattern from Japan and expanded my offering.

A side hustle which began as a Facebook page has become my full-time occupation. After taking redundancy in 2018, I have been able to focus on a business that brings me nothing but joy. As well as creating items that celebrate happy memories, I’m regularly approached by people going through the bereavement process and commissioned to create memory items such as teddies, cushions and quilts from clothing that belonged to loved ones who have passed away. It’s an emotional experience which works very well alongside my current degree studies to become a bereavement counsellor – of which I have just completed year one.

This September I launched month-long courses for people who wish to learn to knit and crochet – offering them some much-needed ‘me time’.

The Ribbon Rose Studio