Cambridge illustrator turned her spare bedroom into a design studio during lockdown

We are now just over two years since the start of the first UK lockdown and the country’s guest rooms have taken on new meaning in recent years. With so much free time, creatives across the UK made do with what they had and eventually had time to start new ventures.

One such person is local Cambridge illustrator Lizzie Ells, 32, who is a t-shirt designer. As part of their venture to speak to Millennials across the country who have turned their spare bedrooms into extra income, Sleep and Snooze spoke to Lizzie about her side hustle and how she became a bedroom entrepreneur to sleep.

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The Cambridge illustrator has been designing music and pop culture-inspired t-shirts as Crawl Home Apparel since 2016. But that had only been a small part of her income until lockdown, when she was able to focus much more on her business.

As the nation’s doors closed, the retail manager was able to focus fully on her designs and now prints her one-of-a-kind designs from her spare bedroom in Cambridge.

She said: “Although I started Crawl Home in 2016, it was during the lockdown that I was really able to take time off to focus on running the business. It was also a really good way to escape everything going on in the world, focus on drawing and being creative gave my brain a break from everything going on outside.

Crawl Home Apparel departs from Lizzie Ells Cambridge guest bedroom

“In 2020 I was lucky enough to get a bonus from my day job as a retail manager which I spent on a printer which meant I could print my own t-shirts and vinyl stickers in my guest room.”

“I really like being able to make t-shirts that I want to wear myself,” she added, “A lot of times you see t-shirts in stores with slogans that don’t mean anything and don’t don’t really make sense, so it’s great to put the things I care about on t-shirts.

Since that day, his business has only grown. With 1,655 Instagram followers and a thriving online store, her business has taken a number of new directions. She has recently started collaborating with other designers, making printed fabrics, gift wrap and pins as well as her usual t-shirts and stickers. But her artistic direction continues to focus on music, especially women.

The 32-year-old artist said: “The direction I’m going right now is really about female musicians and cultural icons. So far I’ve done Nina Simone, PJ Harvey, Little Sims and Yoko Oh!”

Joseph E. Golightly