Home busi­ness award fi­nal­ist

Manukau Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - KYMBERLEE FER­NAN­DES

What started as a stress buster soon turned into a boom­ing busi­ness for one South Auck­land mum.

Man­gere Bridge res­i­dent Tracy Ni­cholls’ home-based soft toys busi­ness, Cute Cud­dles NZ, is now one of the fi­nal­ists in the peo­ple’s choice cat­e­gory of the Net­work NZ Busi­ness Awards.

It all started five years ago when Ni­cholls’ youngest child was con­tin­u­ally too sick to go to day­care.

‘‘Af­ter five years of see­ing doc­tors and a mil­lion tests done, we still don’t know [our daugh­ter’s con­di­tion]. They [doc­tors] dis­cov­ered she had a col­lapsed lung with pneu­mo­nia,’’ Ni­cholls says.

Blood tests showed a work­ing im­mune sys­tem, but real­ity was ‘‘it didn’t ac­tu­ally work’’.

Her daugh­ter is now five and son is seven. .

‘‘It be­came quite stress­ful ... never know­ing if I would get to the hos­pi­tal on time ... the tests were hor­rific,’’ she re­calls.

She says sewing brought her ‘‘san­ity’’ and it still does.

‘‘I just took some­thing I was pas­sion­ate about and turned it into some time­out from the stresses of what was go­ing on,’’ she says.

‘‘I do this be­cause it al­lows me to stay at home with my chil­dren. No one would em­ploy me be­cause ev­ery three weeks we’re at the hos­pi­tal. It al­lows me to be a bet­ter par­ent.’’

Soon word spread about her soft toys and peo­ple started ask­ing her to make things for their friends.

‘‘I’ve learnt a lot on this jour­ney,’’ she says, es­pe­cially man­ag­ing her ‘‘time and stress’’.

She’s en­joyed sewing since she was 10.

With a clien­tele base in Auck­land mostly, she also de­liv­ers coun­try wide. Rat­tles start at $12 and toys like the di­nosaur can go up to $42. No two toys are the same.

‘‘I never make the same an­i­mal from the same fab­ric twice. They’re the per­fect keep­sake. It’s so easy to do and makes my job fun,’’ she says.

‘‘A child can have some­thing as unique as them.’’

All the an­i­mals are made with 100 per cent cot­ton and are stuffed with polyester, so they’re low al­ler­genic and easy to wash.

You can find her on Face­book, buy her toys on­line, and vote for her in the up­com­ing peo­ple’s choice cat­e­gory at the Net­work NZ Busi­ness Awards.

KYMBERLEE FER­NAN­DES/STUFF

Tracy Ni­cholls from Man­gere Bridge makes hand­made soft toys.

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