Introducing Chrissie Lowery. Like many people Chrissie lived a perfectly normal life, a career in care managing residential homes for adults with autism that then evolved into a career in nursing running the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at Wotton Lawn for five years. She then went on to work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Youth Support Team. But all of this started to change after falling pregnant with her beautiful twins Zack and Amber. At about five months into the pregnancy, Chrissie was admitted to hospital with liver failure. Shortly after this Amber had decided she was ready for this world and out she popped on out. Zack wasn't quite ready, happily cwtched up in the warmth. Not wanting a caesarean Zack was given a little encouragement and eventually, he graced the world with his presence. Due to their early birth, the twins were incubated and it was quickly realised they were not well. At six weeks old they were diagnosed with CMV, a virus that is deadly for unborn babies. It was too late to treat them. They subsequently spent three months in intensive care.
Fast forward to 2013 both Amber and Zack are living happy healthy lives. They even have a little brother Jaycob. This is the year the story really begins, all three children are at the local village school, Zack gets dubbed the 'naughty kid' and is diagnosed with Autism and Jacob is getting severely bullied. If this wasn't enough Chrissie falls ill with Chronic illness causing her to spend many days in bed and on the sofa. The only thing she could do is pull the children out of school and educate them at home.
At this point, Zack hadn't been sleeping great and Chrissie having plenty of time at home discovered this great world of the internet!!! After doing a bit of research she found a basic version of what she now calls a Cuddle Bed. Sat on the floor in her living room with her mum's old sewing machine she taught herself how to sew and so the first Cuddle Bed was made. Since that day Zack has always slept through the night. Chrissie now has the IPO rights to her design.
I guess you could say that was Chrissie's light bulb moment. She then went on to make both Amber and Jacob one and thought you know what I quite enjoy this. On the off chance that others might like the look of them she posted them onto a couple of for sale and wanted groups on every body's favourite Facebook. I guess you could say it exploded with friends and family members all wanting one.
In 2014 it was realised that Chrissie had a B12 deficiency, arthritis, malabsorption syndrome, fibromyalgia and Carpal Tunnel. She had to give up work. This is something she has come to terms with in the last few months.
Needing help and direction Chrissie took part in the Gloucestershire Enterprise Scheme. She travelled around the southwest visiting schools and nurseries introducing herself and Cuddle Beds. Due to being on this scheme she wasn't allowed to make any money off of the beds made for these establishments, but it gave her a wealth of experience and she learned so much valuable information.
Realising this was the next step in her life she rented the corner of a local pet store. All three children were now back in mainstream education and Zack was getting the support he really needed.
In the coming months, Chrissie focused her energies into making Cuddle Beds a Success. She auditioned for dragons den (although not successful at the time she has been asked to try again), and created her own Facebook page and her first website.
In 2016 the twins were featured in Forbes magazine in a Facebook live video and Chrissie also won Dragonesses Den, a brilliant accolade for a great businesswoman. Chrissie also hired a business coach who has helped her find confidence in recording Facebook live videos amongst many other things.
The whole reason she made her first Cuddle Bed was to help her Son. In light of this Chrissie contacted The National Autistic Society and had a brilliant article written. She gained a lot of interest from parents of Autistic children and was able to do what she really wanted; help people. The article also caught the eye of Catherine Bailey, Creator of Parents in Need, who has since added Cuddle Beds link to the Parents in Need website.
Now saying that 2017 is Chrissie's year is definitely an understatement. First of all, she moved out of the corner of that pet store and moved into an actual unit! She got invited to an event for amazing women and had to chance to meet Patsy Palmer. She won Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday, meaning she can now sell her products through his exclusive site. In the last week, her trademark came through making Cuddle Beds completely hers. But what I think is really amazing is that on the very day that Chrissie got in contact with me she had her story published on The Story Exchange. I felt incredibly honoured to know that despite all of that she wanted to meet me and let me tell her story.
What really grabbed my attention was not only what she has already accomplished but her dream. Her one true goal. It had always been to help people. To do this she has come up with the idea to create a sensory Cuddle Bed. The idea is that each Sensory Bed will vary depending on the child it is for, with different fabrics, scents, sounds and even lights! In order to help Chrissie with her prototype, she has created a survey. Not only would she appreciate it if you could fill it in but I would love it if you could also. You can find it here and it doesn't matter if you have children or not all opinions will be greatly accepted.
Meeting Chrissie was an experience I will never forget. I left her and her three beautiful children filled with inspiration I even had a little cry I was so overwhelmed. She has a brilliant Just Fucking Do It attitude and doesn't let anything get in her way. Despite the fact she is in pain a lot of the time and has trouble with her memory she has raised five children and created a business I am proud to say I am supporting.
This a story I believe everyone needs to hear. I know that it has made me realise that I really do need to go out and grab life by the balls and own my story. I hope reading her story inspires you and if you would like to purchase a Cuddle Bed or one of the many other products she makes please visit her website and give her Facebook page a little like.
Thank you, Chrissie, for giving me this amazing opportunity it really does mean the world to me. Gosh, I'm starting to tear up writing this!
Love Hayley Beth XXX