I decided in my final year of uni that when I graduated I would really like to open my own store – my mother was living in Copenhagen at the time and I had dreams of bringing back all the lovely Danish brands and selling them here, clearly the ethos has changed slightly over the years, even if the dream has not – but since I had no retail experience of any kind, I thought I’d better get some first. Myriad job applications later, I landed a job as a junior visual merchandiser in Laura Ashley’s flagship London store and was so excited about finding my way in. The plan was to spend a couple of years learning as much as I could and then branch off on my own.
Ah, the optimism of youth! Fast forward 15 years and there had been country moves, marriages, children and a buying career that I absolutely loved, but I was still just dreaming about setting up on my own. We joined the great escape and left London for the South West, and I said that it would be great to use the move as an opportunity to finally take the plunge. I went to trade fairs, spoke to makers, made endless range plans and told everyone who would listen that I was finally going ahead with it, just as soon as I had finished decorating the house. And another two years went by.
We have a family tradition at the end of every year of writing down our resolutions for the coming year in secret on a piece of paper that is then folded away, not to be opened until the 31st of December the following year, when we all read what everyone’s intentions were and we have to fess up as to whether we’ve achieved them or not. I’m going to spoil the secret early this year, family – I didn’t write anything down in December, but I decided right then that 2020 was going to be the year of JFDI. (Or to quote a close family member, it was time to piss or get off the pot!)
So early this year I finally did something about it – I contacted the website developer who I had spoken to a full 18 months earlier and signed a contract committing to spending actual real money, and at that point there was no going back. It’s been quite the ride, the last few months – selecting the brands was easy (narrowing the product selection down was not!); there are so many fabulous people that I’ve had the great privilege to work with over the course of my career and others who I have seen at countless fairs and been itching to work with, and I am hugely appreciative of the support that they have all shown in backing this tiny little upstart business. Learning how to code (very basic!!) HTML for the posts on this very website was not simple, nor was adjusting all of the images to fit – to every web team I have ever worked with in my buying career, I apologise; now I understand! I have no idea what wizardry the fabulous Wesley manages in the background, but seeing this grow from a picture in my head to a real-life website has been amazing.
When Covid hit us in early March, I did wonder whether it was sensible to keep forging ahead, or whether I shouldn’t put the brakes on for a while. I thought perhaps here was the big sign from the universe that I should just give up this little dream of mine and settle down and get myself a proper job like a sensible person. But then I remembered that this was, after all, the year of JFDI, so JFDI I did! It has meant a bit of a change to the way we are running, and some of the brands that we are stocking, but I am endlessly amazed by the resilience and the ingenuity of these small creative brands who I work with, and we have mostly found ways to make it all happen.
And so here we are, after a week of long days and mostly sleepless nights, rushing around trying to plump the cushions and sweep up the dust before we open our doors to you all this evening. It will be a quiet kind of launch, time for us to test it all out and iron out the creases before we make a bigger splash about it in a few days’ time, but we will be open. It’s only taken 17 years – I hope you all like it!