The Curator Collective
The Curator Collective
The Furniture-Maker Who’s Fixing Her Own Mind
One in four adults and one in 10 children experience mental illness in the UK.
‘The Cornish Rae’ started as a side-hustle. A hobby. A creative outlet through which founder and Baldwins customer, Harriet Donnithorne was able to come to terms with a traumatic incident in her personal life.
However, such has been the positive reaction to her work that she’s been able to turn it into a full-time business and leave her old job.
Her story is one of incredible bravery and resilience; using her creativity, her craftsmanship and her do-it-yourself determination to make her world a better place.
As part of G Baldwin & Co’s Curator Collective series, we spoke to Harriet about the piece of furniture that sparked her transformation and put her on the path to a better mental place.
“Two years ago, I was working full-time in a school and at the weekends I would provide first aid support at my husband, Ben’s rugby matches” she says.
“During one match, Ben had a serious head injury which knocked him unconscious and meant he had a seizure on the pitch.”
Witnessing the incident had a profound effect on Harriet and ultimately saw her signed-off work and referred to trauma counselling.
“While I was off work, I would spend hours watching videos online to help me to not think about the incident. My grandfather had introduced me to DIY when I was very little and I had always loved the idea of fixing things. So I watched a lot of videos about people upcycling and building their own furniture to help me feel better.”
Having a creative outlet for my anxiety has probably saved my life. It’s certainly helped me look forward to the future with a great deal of hope
When a therapist suggested that Harriet take up a hobby to help with her recovery, she decided to build herself a work desk by upcycling some old furniture she had.
“The process of planning, then designing, then building and finishing the desk was so therapeutic. It really helped to have a focus for my energies, to be building towards something and to feel like I had a purpose again.”
After completing her first desk, Harriet posted a photo of it online and that started an influx of people asking whether she could do similar projects for them. A year later, she’s amassed enough commissions to leave her previous job and start her company ‘The Cornish Rae’. A key part of her armory? Her Grandfather’s old tools.
“My experience has taught me to live for every day, to look for the positives in every situation and that it’s possible to make a living doing what you love.”
“Fortunately, Ben’s OK now. He’s mostly recovered from his injury and has started a new job. And, while my anxiety will probably never fully leave me, I have learnt how to cope with it.”
“Having a creative outlet for my anxiety has probably saved my life. It’s certainly helped me look forward to the future with a great deal of hope.”
Watch the video above to see the original desk and hear more of Harriet’s story.
My experience has taught me to live for every day, to look for the positives in every situation and that it’s possible to make a living doing what you love