I have been asked many times how Silver Apples came about. For me there is only one way to start my story… At the age of 49 my beautiful sister Tracy passed away. She died of Ovarian Cancer.
I found it hard to cope, especially at night time when my two kids, aged three and two, would go to bed and I didn’t have anything to distract me. I would start thinking and over thinking and over over thinking. I was definitely going mad and I knew it.
I still don’t know what drove me to do it but I went upstairs and flicked through a sewing book that I had on my bookshelf. I also had a sewing machine that had remained in its box for four years. I took it out that night and started to play about with it. After a lesson or two from my mummy over the next week, I made a pin cushion. I was so proud of it and I still use it to his day. I started to get pretty good at straight lines and thought why not… I’ll make a pair of blinds. Sometimes I can be too brave and I’m fairly head strong (OK, OK, very headstrong!) and I’m a perfectionist, so I did it and they turned out ok!
Over the next while, sewing became the thing that stopped me thinking about how much I was hurting from missing my sister. At the end of each session I had created something. A skirt maybe, but more importantly progress. I had something that I could hold in my hands that was not my head. I began to get away from the panic of the thought of another sleepless night. I got into a routine of sewing from 8pm until I was tired, which was often 3am at the start but closer to midnight by the end. It was my therapy and after a while I started to get some sort of sleep routine back again. I continued sewing and decided to sign up for a course at the Belfast Met.
I kept pushing myself further and challenged myself to attempt a coat for my daughter. I bought the wrong type of fabric but it turned out alright and there was no-one more proud than Sophie herself. At the age of two she told EVERYONE that her mummy had made her coat!! This was so sweet of my little two year old and her pride spurred me on to try new things. I started to make her little crossover pinafores. They were very cute and I made them in loads of different fabrics; vintage fabrics, psychedelic fabrics, one with shamrocks and ladybirds and one with doggy fabric…
One day when we were at the park, a lady stopped me to ask where I got Sophie’s pinafore. This happened again and again and it got to the stage that every time she wore one someone stopped me, even on holiday in France! I heard that they looked SO different and that the people had never seen a design like it before! One Friday in Belfast, I was stopped three times, a girl even came round from the cash register to look closer…
I looked to the sky and said ‘Ok Tracy, I get the message. I’m going to do this’.
I put a photo of some of Sophie’s pinafores on Facebook and lo’ and behold, I started to get orders. I couldn’t believe it. I called my friend, an art teacher and said ‘what do you think?’ She loved them and encouraged me. ‘Do it’ she said. It was like it was in unison with my sister from above!
So I did it, I started Silver Apples… I began to get a steady number of orders and so my therapy continued… Sewing from 8pm to midnight every night. I was getting such a good response that I started to dream.. what if I could make a living out of this? I was actually thinking about something other than the bleak episode that went on for the previous years.
My mummy gave me a card because she knows I love Oscar Wilde. It said ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’. This perfectly sums up my journey! Silver Apples is just starting and I am loving every minute of it. As Oscar would also say ‘Yes, I am a dreamer.’
When I look back at my life 10 years ago, I was exporting medical software and travelling the world. It took devastation, something that floored me, to come back to the world with a new attitude. All of my anxiety had come from focusing on the bad things that had happened. Silver Apples became a distraction and when I changed my focus, everything started to change! I am so grateful that that I was lifted out of my darkness and have this exciting path ahead. Now, I am most definitely exhausted every day but my time is spent pursuing my dream and that makes it all worthwhile!