Flight of the Mummybird...
On the hottest day of the year, I am greeted by another ray of sunshine in the shape of stylish Cambridge mum Claire Mumford. The 36-year-old greets me like an old friend, introducing me to her adorable dog Barney, quickly pouring out tea into kitsch vintage teacups, and revealing that in a hectic life as a mum, wife, and personal support assistant, her business Mummybird Pretties gives her the chance to ‘just be me’.
Chatting at her charming Willingham home, a haven of vintage loveliness, Claire presents me with my very own slice of prettiness in the shape of five flower encrusted hair slides. My day has officially been made. “I have just always loved really nice things,” Claire beams. “Ever since I can remember, I have loved the whole vintage thing… I think it is secretly every girls dream to live in a cute little cottage with roses around the door!”
Despite admitting that at school she was “really, really rubbish at art”, Claire discovered a hidden creative talent and has been designing and making jewellery, cards and gifts for over 15 years. Mummybird Pretties became an official company in January this year and Claire’s beautiful vintage inspired pieces have been setting the Cambridge cottage industry alight ever since.
From sparkly brass cuffs and adorable daisy chain bracelets to shabby chic bow necklaces and rhinestone encrusted brooches, Mummybird Pretties celebrates the lovely things in life. “The dream behind Mummybird Pretties came about because I was buying so much jewellery from places like Accessorize and I just thought ‘this is crazy I could make this stuff myself’” Claire explains. “I was in London and found this beautiful handmade necklace in Covent Garden. It cost £32 which I thought was a little bit expensive, so I bought a bead and some wire, found some instructions online about how to put a clasp on and then it all just escalated!”
As well as a regular spot on the Cambridge Market, Mummybird Pretties is now stocked in vintage haven The Crafty Cupcake in Gamlingay, will soon be available from the passenger terminal at Cambridge Airport and has even featured in ELLE magazine, a dream come true for the modest and unassuming jewellery designer. “It was so wonderful seeing my things in ELLE magazine, the issue came out just before an open house I was holding at Christmas, so I had the magazine nonchalantly placed next to the mince pies!
“I still can’t quite believe that ELLE would want to have little old Mummybird in their magazine.”
Baby powder floral charm bracelet
But in spite of her numerous admirers, Claire admits to suffering from confidence issues and has found the recognition, rather than the selling, one of the most rewarding aspects of Mummybird Pretties. “Contrary to what everyone else believes I really lack in self confidence and when someone comes to my stall and says ‘that is beautiful’ I just think ‘wow I made that’,” Claire enthuses. “It isn’t about the money, it’s the creativity and the sense of pride I feel when someone says they like my things.”
Claire has another deeply personal inspiration behind Mummybird; her boys.
Jack and Sam, Claire’s two youngest, were diagnosed with autism when they were just three-years-old. They have severe learning difficulties but Claire hopes that one day, through Mummybird Pretties, she will be able to open a tea room and a shop in which adults with learning difficulties will have the opportunity to work and earn a living, something that she is deeply passionate about.
“For many young people with special needs, they finish college and there isn’t anywhere for them to go after that. So my dream is that I want to set up somewhere when I can employ people like my sons and give them a wage, even if they go and spend it on Haribo in Tesco, it is their money to do what they like with.
“I feel so strongly about people with learning disabilities having the chance to earn a wage like everyone else. I know so many who work on a voluntary basis but why shouldn’t they get paid? It’s a bit of a bee in my bonnet.”
Claire’s eyes light up when she talks about her family and it is clear they are paramount to everything she does. Her mum helps look after the books, her dad built her workshop and Claire’s eldest son Adam, 15, even played a part in the adorable business name. “Adam used to call swans mummybirds when he was little and then before I knew it all three of my children were calling me it! Even Mark, my husband, calls me it now.”
With three children to look after, a job, and a home to run, how on earth, I wonder, does Claire manage to juggle everything? “I really don’t know!” she laughs. “I could have a social life if I really wanted but I feel safe at home and I love being here with the kids.
“I had a little wobble over Christmas and reduced my hours at work but you will still always find me in my little workshop at silly o’clock with a cup of coffee, I love it!”
And Claire certainly
Accepted payment methods
- Accepts Etsy gift cards