Sensory Hap


Our Mums at Work Member, Fiona, is multitalented. Her roles include architect at Prototype, weighted blankets, throws and art creator at Sensory Hap, and has a day job as a Project Sponsor of a £29M new high performance building in Enniskillen, with a global audience on f.brazill on twitter as a PassivHaus expert.

As well as that she is a mum of 2 boys and is from Strabane, Co. Tyrone, via Clare, Scotland, Kenya, Dublin, Clare again, Galway and Derry, full circle back to Tyrone.

Her career started as an architect in Scotland, Dublin, Galway, Derry, and when the recession came she moved into teaching.  She has travelled a lot, had a portrait in the American Embassy in Dublin and a book contract for an academic book which unfortunately did not then come to fruition.  She started writing new curriculum in Building Information Modelling and PassivHaus and carrying out projects with industry.  When the new campus in Enniskillen project came along she saw it as an opportunity to get back to more private sector type work, and this has been her day-job since July 2015.

Her past employment was varied. She said “From 1996 to 2004 I was a semi-professional musician part time, playing Uilleann Pipes, I travelled Europe and North America but this stopped after a car accident in Massachusetts.”

In the middle of all that, she spent 9 weeks building 6 houses in Western Kenya with 11 other architects in 2002 for Habitat.

I asked Fiona to tell me more about her products and services and she said, “At Sensory Hap I make throws as gifts, weighted blankets and lap pads which bring calm to children and adults on autistic spectrum, with adhd, parkinsons, ME, anxiety and depression.  I had had severe post-natal depression having lost three babies and read about the therapeutic benefits of weighted blankets.  These are knitted using a method called ‘extreme knitting,’ this is using multiple strands of threads on large needles, this gives the products weight without using plastic beads.  They are made to match the correct weight, colour, texture and finish required.   I also experiment with mixed media textiles with other media and I am working on an exhibition of pieces for 2019.”

As an architect at Prototype, Fiona works on small commercial and domestic scale developments, preferably energy efficient so that she can employ her expertise in better performing buildings.

I asked Fiona what has been your biggest struggle in her business and she replied  “Starting.  Clearing my head and seeing there is a demand for what I do.”

Fiona has said that being part of the “Mums at Work” community has been a great help and she recommends it. She advises other like minded women to “Join a network such as Mums at Work Network, talk about your idea, try it, explore what is already available and decide what you would like to achieve initially.  There is a lot of help and advice and there is no daft question.”

Spending time with her boys, who are  outdoor and lego fanatics, and great fun.  Fiona loved to read, a lot.

I asked her what she is most proud of and she said, “My boys in the first instance, leading the project on the highest performing building ever attempted globally by day, and my first sale of my Sensory Hap work.”