Meet Hooked By Lou
I’m Louise Murray, I’m turning 23 at the end of this month and I’m from Stockport. After studying art, business and maths in college, I did an Art Foundation Degree at Manchester Metropolitan University. After that I was in and out of jobs for a bit as a charity shop manager and then PR and Digital Executive.
When did you start your online shop?
From the age of about 17, I would buy and sell clothes on Depop, and through the summer I would make crochet bralettes and clothing for friends to wear at festivals and parties! I had a weekend job at a local supermarket too, but I loved earning the extra money on the side and was saving up for holidays and traveling. I tried to get “real jobs,” but I always just wished I was out sourcing clothes to sell or crocheting new things at home, so this August I quit my full time PR job to become self-employed – and I’ve never looked back!
What are the perks/disadvantages of selling clothes in the age of social media?
With my PR and marketing experience I can quite easily navigate the social media world and have found Instagram really useful in getting my brand known/generating sales, best of all it’s totally free!
Where do you get the inspiration for the clothes you make?
My crochet clothes are a mix of festival gear and vintage granny squares. I follow lots of similar crocheters on Instagram and there’s a lot of pattern and idea sharing, it’s a nice little community and great to have so much support and inspiration.
Where can our readers buy your work from?
How long have you been making clothes for?
My gran taught me to crochet when I was about 8, and I think that’s when I made my first scarf. And I remember messing around with a sewing machine and an old pair of jeans with my friend before we started high school so that must have been about age 10. I remember I used to have stencil models and I would always used to sit and design clothes at the kitchen table when I was much younger, so I guess it’s always been an interest.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
The one good thing that’s come from the pandemic is that it made me take the plunge and get my business started! When I was furloughed in April, I had all the time in the world to crochet and create, and I was so happy to be sat at home all day doing what I loved! When I went back to work I just wished I was back at home again and I hated being in the office every day, so after a couple of months back I just had to quit!
How did you learn how to crochet so well?
I think learning at such a young age helped. I don’t really follow patterns, I just go by trial and error and make things up as I go – practice makes perfect.
Who are your favorite style icons?
I wouldn’t say I have a particular style icon, but I do like the artist Niki De St Phalle. She made gorgeous figures and statues (called “nanas”) of curvaceous and vibrant women made up of circles and panels and all different shapes which are similar to the circles and panels I use as I crochet. I always have those in the back of my head when making new things! https://www.google.com/search?q=Niki+De+St+Phalle+nana&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwivv9ysho7tAhUNjqQKHXwhBHEQ_AUoAnoECBwQBA&biw=1418&bih=748
How much of the clothes that you wear have you made yourself?
It’s strange I don’t ever really wear any of my clothes other than at festivals or on holiday!
Do you have any projects coming up?
Nothing huge but if festivals are allowed to go forward next year then I would love to do a huge Pride range and donate a percentage of the profits to Manchester Pride!
What's your biggest tip for someone who wants to start their own online business?
Get organised quick and stay on top of it. Backtracking your sales is a long and daunting process so make an excel sheet with all of your sales and costs ASAP! You can worry about making it all look perfect later, just write everything down. Also, don’t do it by halves, put your all into it and make every week day a full work day, try to set out tasks to complete within normal working day hours and have days off to unwind.
Do you do commissions/custom orders?
Yes! I can make any of the items I’m selling in custom colour combinations and sizes, just drop me a message and I’ll do my best to create what’s in your head!
How has running this business changed you as a person?
I’m happy. I used to wake up and resent going into work because I knew I was never working in my dream job and thought I could never really pursue selling as a career. Now I love waking up and getting out my wool every day, and I’m so proud of myself for making it work and being able to pay my bills even through a pandemic. I didn’t realise how miserable I was before.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome with your business?
I think getting out of my own head and just being brave enough to take the plunge and quit my real job to go self-employed. I wish I did it much sooner because its not as scary as I thought it would be and there’s plenty of people that are there to help and support me.
Why should more people shop sustainable fashion?
There’s two reasons… Firstly doing your bit to help slow down climate change. Buying fast fashion isn’t smart – people should be spending more on quality clothing and not buying lots of badly made clothes that aren’t made to last. If we can all do a small bit then it will go a long way. Secondly, it helps people like me to pay the bills and do what we love to do on a daily basis! You know you’ll be getting something that’s well made and made with a lot of love and passion.