From struggle to success!

Hi, I’m Bethan and this is the story of how I turned a personal struggle into a business opportunity, and a way to help forty thousand people through the pandemic. Read on to hear my iris folding story so far!

Portrait of Bethan holding an iris folded card

When I was 8, my gran showed me a hobby she’d learned when she was my age, Iris Folding. A way of folding paper strips to create a unique spiral effect, like a camera lens. It was beautiful – a forgotten craft, like a time capsule from a century ago!

Iris folding artwork - nine hearts in different colours of the rainbow, in a 3x3 grid

Fast forward to 2015. I’m a competitive athlete, I work in a gym, and I’m suddenly diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I spend the next 2 years in a wheelchair.

My mental health nosedived. I was part of the 25% of people who suffer from mental illness each year. At the time, I was a management student at University of Huddersfield, struggling to balance my new condition whilst studying for a bachelor's degree. My whole life changed! From playing sport and working out every day, I became stressed, sad and withdrawn.

But then I remembered the hobby my gran had shared with me. Iris Folding felt like the perfect escape. A mindful practice to help me feel the pride and accomplishment that my condition had taken away from me! 

I’m sure you can all remember doing a drawing as a child, how did you feel when you picked up that paper to show your mum or dad? We lose that feeling as we become adults. But iris folding empowered me to be able to feel that sense of triumph and joy again!

I couldn’t remember much of the technique – so I went online looking for resources. But Iris Folding was such a forgotten art – there wasn’t much out there to help me!

So, I created it myself. I brought the technique back to life with my unique style and passion.

During lockdown, I started recording my work, and posting it online. Turns out other people found as much comfort and joy in the craft as I did! As my following grew, people wanted to know how to do it themselves, so I started selling iris folding kits and digital craft resources.

Today, I have 40k+ followers on Instagram, I’ve sold over 3200 units to 35 different countries, and I’ve recently secured my first wholesale contract.

I equip crafters to practice iris folding by providing specialised craft kits, digital patterns, and educational videos. My iris folding business guides young adults on a journey from beginner to mastery, whilst improving their mental wellbeing.

By sharing my iris folding craft kits and tutorial videos, I empower people like you to create your own mindful craft experiences! The iris folding process is incredibly therapeutic. The act of repetitively placing the paper strips, helps you reach a flow state of mind and ground yourself in the present moment. As you slow down and pay attention to the colours and patterns involved, you can almost feel your body and mind relaxing and the stresses of life slip away, at least for a short while.

My Instagram has also become a platform that supports community and connection with other crafters. I am so lucky to be able to connect with a global community of paper crafters every day! By following my journey, you can find the inspiration you need to use iris folding as the creative outlet to improve your mental health. 

I guess, to crafters like you, I am a role model, an influencer leading the global young adult craft market with a fresh new style, which is why some of the world's biggest craft businesses have expressed an interest in working with me. (Watch this space to see what new and exciting collaborations are on their way)!

During the pandemic, many people experienced the same isolation I felt when my life changed, but now find comfort and mindfulness in the crafts I provide. It makes me so happy to know that my iris folding journey spreads positivity and joy across the world to help those that are struggling with their mental health.

Pretty In Paper By B sits alongside Tilly Viktor and Sew Sophie Crafts recruiting young adult crafters. We all work together as one community to meet the need to encourage participation in mindful crafts. 

Currently, I am the only business globally who has built a personal brand around iris folding. I have created a new space in the craft market, leading the way for people like you to practice the mindful paper craft technique. I am honoured to sit among some of the top craft influencers as a key creative role model having a global, positive impact on mental health.

Over the last year, I've launched on YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest, alongside my own website. I've also filmed for a national TV appearance to reach even more of these young people. (Coming soon)!

Introducing the Pretty In Paper By B team, my family! My brother is king of kit packing and my tech savvy assistant who helps with video editing (not my strong suit!). He also manages my TikTok account and brings such a positive burst of energy to every room he enters! My psychology PhD mum helps with mindfulness and is a great sounding board for my small businesses stresses! My dad has over 35 years of experience in project management so is great support with the business admin and finances. Even my gran does the post runs!

I am incredibly fortunate to have so much support from my family, I certainly wouldn't be here without them! We work together as one team, sharing the same values and passion for having a positive impact on the world. 

Every day I receive messages from across the world from people telling me how much of a positive impact iris folding has made on their life and every day they bring such a smile to my face! But millions of people are still struggling with their mental health, people just like you and me. This website is one more piece of the puzzle to help spread the joy of pretty papers and improve mental wellbeing through mindful papercraft.

So, let's get crafting!

Leave a comment