So what have I been doing in the 5 months of no posting?
I moved all my worldy belongings back to the UK, I celebrated Christmas, I started renovating the shop, I travelled to Ghana, I came back and then I OPENED THE SHOP :) So its been quite a busy few months....and what am I doing now?I'm processing all of that information while having sporadic mental breakdowns!
Seriously though I should probably introduce you to my shop and show you some photos of how I got there.....
At first I was really excited about getting my very own shop, the kind of excitement you get when you rent a new apartment. Then I moved home and started working on it and I LOVED that. I fancy myself as a bit of a DIY queen and, after watching far too many episodes of 'Grand Designs' and 'the Restoration man', special thanks to ma boyssssss George Clarke and Kevin McCloud, I was pretty convinced that 'doing up' an old shop space would be really fun and easy. I had ambitions of moving all my stock(which I had not yet made) into the shop ready for a grand opening at Christmas where local newspaper journalists would come and marvel at my beautiful bohemian showroom leading to me being inundated with customers....*breathe*....needless to say it didn't happen quite like that... but I did have a lovely shop opening with lots of people attending and I have had some customers since so still pretty good!
Here are a few of the before photos...
As you can see the shop is cute, small and very basic. In its original state it was exactly what you would expect to get for just £35/week. Cheap laminated fake wood floor in quite a cold wood colour, dusty looking duck egg blue walls, damp EVERYWHERE! A basement so cold that you could literally see your own breath in front of you. It was pretty dingy to be honest.....but I had decided the basement would become my studio space... much to the amusement of my family.
|This is the before shot, all I'd done in these photos was sweep the floor and clean away a few cobwebs. As you can see it doesn't even slightly resemble a studio space!|
|Post damp paint....this was my favourite bit as it actually starting looking like a potential workspace.|
Getting the basement that white was no small feat. I had to cover up some holes, with the help of Daddy Burns, and coat EVERYTHING-floor, walls and stairs- with thick layers of damp paint.
I will share some photos of the current studio space in my next post as it's a little bit on the 'creative' side at the moment!
Then I started on the upstairs.... painting the walls white only to come back the next day to find that the paint hadn't dried at all because the shop was so damp and cold. The windows were always so full of condensation that the paint around them constantly dripped and slid around instead of drying. Then I discovered an absolute miracle worker- damp bags. I attached one on each side of my shop door and within a few days all the condensation had gone and the bags had soaked up enough moisture for me to be able to coat the walls with damp paint. If you want to buy some here's a link:
They really are amazing!
|The shop floor before, during fitting and after OSB board. A definite improvement in my opinion!|
Next on my shop list was the floor. I pretty much had my heart set on an OSB/chipboard floor. I love the rough, creative look and think it creates a really welcoming atmosphere in the shop so I purchased a few sections and asked my dad to help me lay them. Then came the exciting bit of the renovation(ish) project....making the furniture and fixtures!I had a very clear idea of what I wanted the interiors of the shop to be like, I've had a 'business:interiors' pinterest board for goodness knows how long. I wanted unfinished rough wood, rope, industrial piping and most importantly NO PLASTIC. I wanted everything to look quite rugged and natural, because that's reflected in the products I sell- handpainted wood and recycled glass.
|You can see how happy I was doing my driftwood scavenger hunt!The bottom photo is a close up of the driftwood texture- isn't it beautiful!Then there's the ladder and scaffolding boards before and after sanding.|
- a counter from two old palette boxes and some scaffolding board,
- a shelving display from scaffolding board and old found rope,
- a hanging display from some patterned driftwood and old rope
- a necklace display from an old wooden scaffolding ladder
- earring displays using leftover OSB board from the floor
- another earring display using garden fence
- earring wall displays using frames bought in charity shops
- and a window display using repurposed apple crates.
None of the fixtures in my shop are new. Everything is either salvaged, repurposed or bought from a charity shop. It just goes to show that you don't need money for everything, you just need a bit of creativity and an electric sander ;) I'm not gonna pretend it was super easy and I don't think my hands will ever recover but it was so worth it to be able to sit in my shop with pride and say that I created everything inside.
|My completed shop, inside and out!Quite a difference from the original photos dontcha think!?|
I really did love turning the shop into my own- it felt a little bit like a fun DIY project that I was doing for someone else. I basically separated the reality of what I was doing from the actual doing of it- does that make sense? I tend to process information quite slowly, especially when its something I will no doubt have an emotional reaction to. I chose, instead, to completely ignore the fact that I had quit my job to become a shop owner despite having no knowledge/experience in setting up a business and with only 30 necklaces and 20 keyrings to sell. In fact, I ignored this until 2 hrs before the shop opening where my poor dad found me crying in a corner of the basement... because I couldn't get the windows clean.....I kid you not!The simple frustration of not being able to clean my windows properly overwhelmed me so much that it led to a downward spiral of doubt and panic. This culminated in me sobbing "I can't do this, this was a mistake, this is impossible, I can't run a business, what if it fails"(with intermingled sobs and sniffles).... it sounds ridiculous I know. Obviously it wasn't really the windows I was crying about ...more an overwhelming awareness of my incapability.
.....I told you this blog would be an honest one.....
Anyway I pulled myself together and the launch actually went well. There was prosecco, people bought my products and I felt, for the first time, like I had made the right decision.
Since the launch 3 weeks ago I have had a few customers and been to a stall in Manchester's Northern Quarter. I have a few more things in the pipeline as I want to start doing some workshops in April but need to make myself a flat pack trestle table first- obviously this will be made from scaffolding boards and old ladders once again ;)
So there's a little update of what's actually been going on with my shop. ALSO I promised myself I would keep providing tips on here so my tip of the day is: