If you’re a fan of beautifully handcrafted work, there’s no doubt you’ll be besotted with Dalcapon born Louise McLaren’s intricate papercuttings. Her work blends illustrious beauty with a sharp edge: flowery, nature inspired designs surround messages of contemporary relevance. This is perhaps perfectly encapsulated in the Janelle Monae lyric: ‘We come in peace but mean business’ – which Louise incorporated into one of her designs. And indeed, this applies to Louise’s working life too!
Self-described head-honcho, chief designer and woman-in-charge of her own business, Louise is always on the go. “As soon as I've done the school and nursery run (and maybe had a cheeky coffee with some friends – Hansen’s Kitchen in Comrie is one of my usual haunts!) I head home and start work”, she tells us. Then it’s a whirlwind of e-mails, creating orders, packaging them to send, and balancing commissions with original work. Oh, and not to mention transporting the kids to and from nursery and school!
With such a tight schedule, Louise is mindful to make time for relaxation too: “My day usually ends with a cup of tea (or red wine depending how the day's been!) and a chat with my other half, a hot bubbly bath and a couple of chapters of my book”, she tells us. “I find a good stomp up a hill or through a wood does wonders to help me relax too.
The Comrie to St. Fillans section of the Loch Earn Railway Path is beautiful - especially in autumn - and has lots of interesting views along the way. If I want a quick break I’ll go on a walk with the dog along the river. We're so lucky in Comrie with lots of brilliant walks right on our doorstep”.
Tell us the weirdest / funniest thing that has ever happened to you at work?
One of my Valentines card designs has an origami heart on the front and people can personalise it with a hidden message. Some of the messages I've had were cute: “I love you more than kittens”. Some were hilarious: “I love your big stupid face”. And some were so rude they made me blush typing them!
What signals the start of your days off?
Friday night in our house is pizza, popcorn, ice cream and film night. The boys take it in turns each week to choose the film, we make home-made pizza, then get our jammies on, flop out on the sofa and stuff ourselves! It's my favourite night of the week: there's no homework or after school activities and it's a ritual I always look forward to.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
My guilty pleasure is to listen to 90’s music really loudly when I'm in the car by myself, and sing at the top of my voice! Discovering Absolute Radio 90’s has been a game changer for solo car journeys!
What is at the top of your bucket list?
I've always wanted to visit New Zealand and I've not got there yet!
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
The most boring job I've ever had was aged 13, spending a summer holiday painting all the doors, windows and woodwork on the family farm! Needless to say the next year I got myself a job as a waitress!
Who or what inspires you?
I'm inspired by poetry and its ability to perfectly capture emotions in a few words. I'm always striving to capture the stories of women and the threads that run through us all and make us ourselves. I'm constantly inspired by the resilience, toughness and unceasing character of women who have fought and continue to fight for feminism. For freedom, equality, choice, love, compassion, respect, solidarity and education: in this country, and abroad.
I'm constantly inspired by the resilience, toughness and unceasing character of women who have fought and continue to fight for feminism. For freedom, equality, choice, love, compassion, respect, solidarity and education: in this country, and abroad.
Tell us about the day you’d love to live again?
My perfect day that I could happily spend eternity living would include all my family and friends. A glorious summer’s day, a sparking loch, a huge green field, and a barbecue. It would involve lots of chat, swimming and music, continuing well into the evening, sitting huddled around a campfire with glasses of red wine and toasted marshmallows. It would end with an inky black clear night sky and the Milky Way sparking from horizon to horizon.
What’s the best part about your job?
I love seeing the look on someone's face when they read the words included in one of my designs and it completely resonates with them. It makes me so happy that I've caught an important part of their story and celebrated it.
Complete this sentence; the best things in life are….
Not things! They're the people you love, the time you've spent with them and the memories you've made. In the words of Margaret Atwood, “In the end, we'll all become stories.” So make sure you leave some amazing ones behind!