Ruth Watchorn, Owner of The Little Cottage Gift Company

An online boutique stocking an array of hand-picked vintage and antique items, as well as exclusive handmade pieces

A lot is expected of women these days… I don’t have a partner and I can’t have children. For a long time, I’ve felt inadequate that I can’t fulfil the roles that a woman is ‘supposed’ to. Entering 2020, I feel a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth.

I knew early on that I was more creative than academic. I studied Metalwork & Jewellery Design at university; then I found a series of part-time jobs – making or selling jewellery. I enjoyed it but I wanted something permanent, so every day I made the two-hour commute to Leeds, where I took a full-time job as a jeweller.

It was a massive blow when I was made redundant two years later, but I sidestepped into dental work – making crown and bridge. It was still metalwork and I was using my hands, which scratched the creative itch.

I brushed it off at first when I became poorly. Soon, the pain I was in during the day began waking me up at night. I went in for exploratory surgery – fully expecting something minor and solvable. Instead, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis and Adenomyosis, and told I wouldn’t be able to have children. I was devastated. I was single and not planning a family, but that option had been stolen from me.

Several months later, whilst I was recovering from additional laparotomy surgery, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went into overdrive – trying to support her and carry on working. By 2013, I reached the point of breakdown and was diagnosed with ME. It’s taken a long time to get back to some kind of normality, but I’m focusing on the positives.

If it hadn’t happened, I would still be making teeth! Instead, I took a part-time job as a jewellery buyer and reassessed what I’d like to do and make.

With the support of my local crafting community, I’ve launched an online shop! It’s stocked with upcycled vintage items and handmade gifts all crafted by me. I built the website myself – doing it in manageable stages around my illness.

Your life isn’t over if you can’t have children. You CAN find purpose in other passions.

The Little Cottage Gift Company