Wednesday, 16 May 2012

It's Been A Long Time....

Wow...I can't belive it's May and I haven't blogged since Christmas. It's been a really busy year so far although things have moved in new directions. As some of you will remember at the tail end of last year I bought the very lovely Delia the campervan with a view to launching a new enterprise....
Delia was the starting point of Custard Campers Since our launch it been go go go with our first hire occuring before the website even went online...New Year was seen in with Delia out on hire. It's been an interesting ride so far, with plenty to keep me busy marketing, cleaning the campervan, planning, doing the accounts, cleaning the campervan, promotion, cleaning the get the idea. Lots of lessons I've learnt from Strawberry Annie's over the last couple of years have been put to good use. Since then two more campervan's have been added to our fleet, so the custard side of things has taken alot of my attention.
All very intersting I hear you say but where does this leave Strawberry Annie's? Well I have still been busy sewing tutus and more, completing both wholesale and retail orders alongside launching/working on Custard Campers. However there is only so many hours in the day so what has taken a back seat is the marketing/promotion side of being a Strawberry. I have also deceided to not bother with the festivals this year. Normally Apr-Jul is flat out getting enough stock ready for these, so this has freed up the time I have needed for the campervans. The reason for not going is not purely time but more financial, I work exceptionally hard to prepare for the festivals, where I then arrive, set my stock out beautifully and try to sell as much as I can. Sadly though each year sales have gone down, but stall costs haven't! Add in travel costs (petrol being ridiculously high) staff costs as I can't set up a whole market stall completely on my own (well I can and have done but it is tough) and then it is long long hours at a festival and it always rains!
I have spent the last few months trying to deceide what to do with Strawberry Annie's. I poured so much time and emotion into trying to grow the brand into a viable business. I have done everything I can and have taken the risk on costly trade fairs to grow the wholesale side of the business. Sadly despite all of that, it ticks over but it's never going to grow to the point where I can take a reasonable wage from it, move into somesort of premises as trying to create in a confined space is hard and it would be lovely to have someone else to work alongside.
I think the turning point was last summer when I was turned down for an artists studio at Hylands House full story here. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement but normally I'm quite good at picking myself up and carrying on. This time that didn't really happen so well, not just because of the studio but more because it drove home the point that if somewhere subsidised aimed at small creatives felt I was too 'commercial' and I was way too small an enterprise to afford commercial rent than my dreams of getting out of my home working scenario would never happen.
I really needed to make the move, so I could get that work/home balance and refire my passion for the business. Having said all that I am still running Strawberry Annie's....this week has been really good for orders. I have restocked my Folksy shop with loads more to come..... I am going to be taking a good hard look at my website and making the changes/improvements that I think before I was too close to be able to see.
So lets end on a more upbeat note....the jubilee is round the corner so if anyone needs any jubilee bunting I'm your girl
Kerry x

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