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How it all began...The Story of The Monkey Puzzle Tree 🌱 and our First Design

April 25, 2020 2 min read

How it all began...The Story of The Monkey Puzzle Tree 🌱 and our First Design

Spending so much time at home has lead me to reflect on the time, four years

ago, when the idea for The Monkey Puzzle Treewas first born.

It all started with an unexpected redundancy, a sketch on a piece of hotel

notepaper, and a conversation!


The seeds of an idea...

I'd loved my job (as a textiles buyer and developer) and when I was made

redundant I knew it would be hard to find another similar role in Yorkshire.

While on the school run, friend and artist Sarah Thorntonasked if I could help

her create a textile design from her artwork and maybe help her produce it.

Original design for Rita does Jazz velvet by Sarah Thornton for The Monkey Puzzle Tree

That piece of hotel note paper!

Sarah has LOTS of art in her studio, but something about the colours and

abstract design on the painting shown above inspired me to think that this could

be the first of our fabrics

Creating the fabric...

With an enormous piece of paper, a big pile of print outs, and some scissors

and sellotape I worked with Sarah to create the design that would eventually

become'Rita does Jazz' velvet.

Designing Rita does Jazz by Sarah Thornton for The Monkey Puzzle Tree

Next to find a name...

A name has to mean something, and in my case it came from the monkey

puzzle tree which had been planted outside my parent's house when I was


The tree is now so tall that it towers over the house. In the year I was married

the monkey puzzle produced cones for the first time, and when I had my

children, baby monkey puzzle trees stared to grow in the garden.

It's a beautiful and unusual tree, but not to everyone's taste! It creates a bold

statement and has been around since the time of the dinosaurs.

Charlotte Raffo with the original monkey puzzle tree

In the photograph above you can see me (left) and my sister with the tiny

monkey puzzle tree in the background. We are wearing Norwegian national

costume as our dad is from Norway.

Rita does Jazz on the cutting table


We had a name, and the first fabric, called 'Rita does Jazz' by Sarah, was vivid

and unique and beautiful.

I knew I was on to something, and so began The Monkey Puzzle Tree!

Watch Sarah and I discussing our story in this you tube video from 2018.


Treat your home!We are sending out our beautifully packaged designs contact

free from our home via DHL once a week.

We really appreciate your support to help keep our business going during this

difficult time.


Stay safe!

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