Things we love: The Happy Place digital festival with Fearne Cotton and friends.

Happy Place Festival, Chiswick House, Fearne Cotton

As the final few days of Fearne Cotton’s much-loved Happy Place Festival are upon us, Angela Sara West caught up with some of our favourite speakers and guests from the festival to get their take on the effect creativity and craft can have on happiness and wellbeing.

Not On The High Street – it’s Holly & Co!

She may have founded one of the biggest online retail success stories in British history, but Holly Tucker MBE hasn’t stopped dreaming big. In her inspiring chat with festival founder Fearne, she discusses the hard work that went into starting Not On The High Street, her new project Holly & Co, and the stresses that success has put on everyone involved.

Holly tells me for MakeBox that she was over the moon to have been invited back for a second year. “After the brilliant atmosphere and wonderful people I met last year, I jumped at the chance! I just love that there is such a variety of brilliant speakers, you can give lots of different things a go, open your mind to new thoughts and ideas, all in a wonderfully-safe and supportive space.”

The main rewards of creativity for mental health and wellbeing? “Creativity is the fuel that keeps my energy and drive topped up. There are so many ways to be creative, for me, even going for a walk, allowing myself space to think creatively about a solution or spark a new idea, fuels me. The darkest days of my past were moments when I felt totally unable to be creative in my day-to-day life – it is why, when building Holly & Co, it was vital to me that creativity was at the very heart of the business.” 

Craft Village creations

Happy Place Festival, Chiswick House, Fearne Cotton

Crafty Fearne Cotton loves a good sew… And that’s not the only craft she practises. “Art and design has been commonplace in my family for as long as I can remember,” she says. “For me, drawing, making and creating has always been relaxing, cathartic and, as a child, a way to escape the confines of school and the academic curriculum I didn’t feel I fitted into. Being creative is something I’m passionate about keeping alive in the family now I have my own children. It’s our family happy space where we can create together.”

I caught up with one of those inspiring crafters, ‘Dragons’ Den’ investor Sara Davis from Crafter’s Companion, who has been carrying out craft tutorials for the festival, including String Spheres workshops and watercolour techniques. 

Has crafting been taking care of her mental health during lockdown? “It’s been such a strange and surreal time… I’ve struggled not seeing my family and friends because they’re such a huge part of my life, so this situation has really made me appreciate my loved ones,” Sara revealed. “I craft for a living, but I’ve really enjoyed crafting and connecting with the crafting community through work, keeping busy and hearing other people’s experiences. It’s all really given me great perspective.

Sara champions the huge benefits for mental health and wellbeing through cathartic craft and creativity, and relishes reaping the rewards of community crafting. “I think anything that keeps your hands busy helps to take your mind away from the worries and stresses of life – even just for a little while. It’s completely therapeutic and you feel a huge sense of achievement when you have finished making something, just knowing the time and effort that you’ve invested in creating the piece. Crafting also allows you to be part of a large community and having that additional support network can be really comforting.” 

The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play!

Run out of ideas for at-home activities with the kids? Bestselling author Laura Brand has come to the rescue with some incredibly inspirational craft ideas for children. 

On a mission to encourage parents to put down the ‘phones and screens and get back to basics, by reconnecting with children through stress-free ‘joyful craft’ and creative play, it’s children’s crafting that makes Laura happy. Crafting with nature not only reawakens the sense but helps with mindfulness and is good for the soul. Laura’s dreamy ideas have aided so many parents, including myself, to keep calm and carry on through lockdown, learning to embrace ‘mess’ as our children create.
We’ve loved watching the festival take place over the month, and would encourage you to check it out over the weekend by visiting the website, where you can also view any past talks. As you know, we are massive champions of crafting for mental wellness, which has been even more important during this period, so we’re delighted to see so many celebrities champion the cause as well!

Words by Angela Sara West.

Congrats Fearne for putting on such a great festival. 

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