University of Liverpool graduate Gemma Scattergood quickly realised that job opportunities were scarce, especially in her desired field. Whilst struggling to work full time and volunteer for a drugs support agency, she made the bold decision to turn her passion for crafting into a business. 
Credit: Barbara Idasiak Photography
After graduating with a Psychology degree, Gemma found herself struggling financially. Noticing that she was receiving quite a few requests for crafted items from family, friends and co-workers, her boyfriend suggested that she should turn it into a job as it made her happy, when the minimum wage jobs didn’t.
‘First step for me was to design, design and design. I saved my holidays in work to take bulk time off to work on things and that started a few years ago now. I think only a handful of the original designs have made it to now as they were, a lot have either been modified or scrapped completely.’
‘I didn’t know where to start with business plans, finances, workspaces, legal requirements etc. It was terrifying. It got to the point where I realised I was only doing things for myself and talking about it, so I decided to look for direction.
The self-taught crafter contact The Women’s Organisation to help support her in setting up her own business.
‘I’d gotten myself stuck in a position where I didn’t know what the next step was and if I’d covered everything I needed to. They took all my ideas on board and helped me make sense of everything. The fact that this service is free is outstanding!’
‘My advisor Francine was my lifeline through all stages of my business plan and the workshops are tailored in such a way that they apply to all yet feel very personal. Everything from confidence building to tax is covered, and for the first time it made it feel exciting rather than daunting and that feeling has stayed with me. They also made it painless, I had my first meeting in January and launched by April after 3 years of trying to do this on my own. I could not have done this without them.’
Through her business Girl on Purl Action, Gemma celebrates everything to do with the wool and craft world. GOPA provides high quality, hand-made knitted and crocheted items that are sold through the online store, as well as custom bespoke services for that extra personal touch or special occasion.
Expanding on this, the Liverpool resident is now hosting weekly craft groups in various locations across Liverpool, as well as workshops and classes for all skill levels, currently in partnership with The Crosby Tea Rooms.
When asked what she likes best about self-employment, Gemma replied: ‘The freedom of it all. I am my own boss. I can create what I am in the mood to create (most of the time) which makes working so enjoyable! Having worked in so many minimum wage jobs over the years always answering to some faceless companies’ expectations and goals it’s wonderful when you achieve your own.’
Gemma does not have any ‘take over the world’ style plans, as she put it, but would really like Girl on Purl Action to be such a success that she is able to leave her day job. She is also aiming to branch out more into clothing, but I’m told those plans are top secret which is exciting.
‘I’m really proud because I felt like I was never going to get here. I feel that out of all my life achievements; learning to drive, moving out of my parents’ house, getting my degree, above all else, this is my biggest so far.’
To have a look at GOPA’s items, or to find out more about the groups and workshops that are running, visit You can also contact Gemma directly

Why not follow Gemma’s adventure on social media. Twitter: @GOnPurlAction & Facebook:– She’s always happy to chat craft! 

If you have an idea or a passion you would like to make into a career, contact The Women’s Organisation to find out how they can help you do so on 0151 706 8111 / 

By Beckie Kinsella

Portrait Photo Credit: Barbara Idasiak Photography