The dream for most people is to have a job that allows them to do something they love day in, day out.
This is now the case for Charlotte Taylor-Frape, 33. But her journey to this wasn’t an easy one.
Although she now seems to have it all with a successful embroidery business on NotOnTheHighStreet, just three years ago she was diagnosed with cervical cancer; a piece of news that turned her world upside down entirely.
Charlotte, who now lives in Sheffield with her husband Ollie, 37, was at that time teaching geography and supporting students with additional support needs in London.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I started having irregular bleeding, so went to see my GP.
‘They did an internal exam, and weren’t particularly concerned because of my age and general health but equally they couldn’t confidently tell what was going on so they referred me to the hospital.’
While there, an examination uncovered a tumour and it was sent for a biopsy, with Charlotte having to wait an agonising week for results.
‘In all honesty when it was confirmed it was a relief to know what the cause of the irregular bleeding was and that it would now be resolved,’ says Charlotte.
‘However, the thought of treatment was overwhelming and quite scary. They initially thought they’d be able to operate to remove the tumour, however it turned out that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes so I had to be treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.’
Then 30, Charlotte says that ‘treatment was a bit of a blur’, but that some of the worst mental and physical effects came afterwards.
The therapies brought on early menopause and she can never have children, to which Charlotte says: ‘It was unexpected and shocking because I was so young.
‘As I was recovering, I felt lonely and sad. I felt I had no one to talk to – no one of a similar age who had gone through what I had.’
Some of the effects of the menopause for Charlotte were insomnia, tiredness, weight gain, hot flushes, dry skin, reduced bone density, low mood, anxiety, and poor memory.
Basically, a laundry list of things hard for anyone – let alone someone who’s also been through cancer.
It was then that the idea for her business began.
Charlotte says: ‘I needed to do something to cheer myself up, so I went back to some of the crafts I enjoyed when I was younger.
‘I taught myself embroidery and one of the first things I did was a hoop with the words ‘So Hot’ on. It described the hot flushes I was getting because of the menopause.’
That self-taught hobby became her business, Modern Floss, where Charlotte sells embroidered items and customised clothing with empowering slogans like ‘Women Will Be Women’, ‘Fearless’, and ‘Strong Women From Little Girls Grow’.
Modern Floss then expanded further during lockdown when she joined Not On The High Street rather than selling solely through Instagram.
Orders went through the roof – so much so that she has been working 70 or 80 hours a week in her back bedroom studio to keep up with demand. This is now Charlotte’s full-time job.
Charlotte says: ‘Now I joke that I’ll have to teach my husband Ollie to embroider to cope with all the orders… Although maybe I’ll just let him do the packing!
‘I started off using a traditional female craft to express what it feels like to be a modern woman and it ended up giving me a whole new career.’
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