Mum turns lifetime love of vintage into a business, empowered by her diagnosis of autism

Just a few months before hitting the big 50, Lynne Abbott, received a life-changing diagnosis of autism.

For some this would be difficult to take, but not Lynne – she saw the diagnosis as empowering, spurring her on to design a life around her needs and those of her two children – oh, and her love of everything vintage and retro.

Now, more often than not she can be found in her Doctor Martens amongst NME magazines and Northern Soul memorabilia at her shop Junk To Funk Wigan in Eckersley Mill’s Antiques and Oddities – just a stone’s throw away from the iconic Wigan Pier.

Lynne’s journey towards a diagnosis of autism started four years ago when her daughter was formally diagnosed as autistic, aged eight.

She said: “In the 1970s when I was a child a diagnosis of autism was pretty much unheard of but I could see a lot of me in my daughter as a child. You start to notice from your own child’s journey that you were similar to them growing up and I decided to go the GP. I received the formal diagnosis in January 2019, literally a couple of months before my 50th birthday.

“When they told me I was autistic I felt overwhelmed – in a positive way. A lot of things started to make sense – from struggles at school to work and relationships.

“Now, I feel empowered – I own the title and I can tell people and explain some of the challenges I have. People understand me better – and I understand myself better, too. Now I am just me, I am not masking who I am anymore as I don’t need to.”

This newfound lust for life has had people fooled into thinking Lynne was in the midst of a mid-life crisis – but she says she has just reverted back to her art college days – reclaiming her identity through fashion and by turning her passion of retro into a career that she has always wanted.

Lynne succeeded in this by using her background in design and marketing to create her own brand and enviable Instagram account that quickly saw her following flourish to 2000 – and so Junk To Funk was born.

“It was always my dream to have my own vintage shop,” says Lynne,” and part of raising an autistic child – as well as having my own diagnosis – means it can be difficult to be reliable as an employee. So, running a business suits my need to be flexible but I think being autistic has helped me run my business – I have special interests which make me really focussed on topics that I find interesting. The business is now sustaining itself – and above all, it is my passion and it is something to show my children – they’re so proud of it.”

So, what next for Lynne? More vintage and retro collectables will be available not only at her shop in Eckersley Mill but at The Quirk at Spinner’s Mill in Leigh – and she is also using her talents to help others as a volunteer marketing assistant for fellow Wiganers, Make You Matter CIC, a mental health and community wellbeing hub.

She is also set to launch her second venture, Funk Creative, where she will put her graphic design background and social media skills to work through consultancy and training for music, retro and vintage brands – thanks to support from GC Business Growth Hub.

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