Lee began Pretty Birds four years ago as a way of having some "me" time in the midst of being a stay at home mum to her three children, who are now 10, 8 and 6.
She is also one of the founding designers of Pay it Forward, having been involved from it's beginning.
At present Pretty Birds is in hiatus as Lee and her husband Dennis take the family on a 6 month long trip to Laos. They have friends who run a not-for-profit English language and vocational school in the southern town of Pakse and they are volunteering their time to teach English to youth and young adults.
"It's an exciting trip for us and really different to how we live life in New Zealand. There's lots of adjusting going on as we adjust to the heat, the humidity, and the lifestyle. Definitely simpler in many ways and less convenient in many others. For instance, all fresh food shopping is done in open air markets, rather than a supermarket, and bargaining is all part of the experience.
A few years ago, we, along with a group of our friends, sponsored a vocational scholarship at the school for a student called Si. Si was from a hill village where education is scarce and job opportunities are lacking - and she wanted to learn! Through the vocational course Si now has a job in the bakery cafe attached to the school and is learning English. It's been so nice to meet her and get to know her and know we did something to help her have more choices in her life.
Laos is a beautiful country. Last weekend we had the opportunity to take a trip to swim at a waterfall on the Bolaven Plateau and to visit a coffee plantation. The plantation is part of a coffee co-op growing organic, fair-trade coffee. It reminded me so much of the ethos of Pay it Forward - supporting and buying local, from owner-operated, small business people. I'm not a coffee drinker, but according to Dennis the coffee was
excellent (he had two!)"
Lee and her family get back in January and Pretty Birds will re-open in February, in the mean-time, we have plenty of Pretty Birds stock at Pay it Forward. If you would like to read more about their Laos adventures you can find their blog at thearthursadventures.blogspot.co.nz
I think I've always had the making bug; my lovely mum was always trying different crafts and loved passing those skills on, so I suspect my creative side comes from her!
Pepin Design only really got off the ground because I have two gorgeous friends who took me under their wings at one of their craft markets and let me share their stall at one of the first Shop Me Pretty evenings in Christchurch. I became hooked on the market vibe and have since become a bit of a regular on the market scene in Christchurch.
I'm a part time teacher, so Pepin Design is juggled around the days I don’t work. If I’m not teaching, I start the day by dropping kids to school, making a good coffee, and then cranking up the music while I work. I have a very patient husband and two gorgeous children who make fantastic Pepin packaging employees when needed during the busier times of the year.