As you may know, last year I decided to follow my dream of owning a shop. I spent hours and hours, months and months researching how it would look, what I would sell, how I would style it. On 1st November 2016, we opened the doors of Vintage Style Living. I can safely say I have loved every second.
Three weeks after we opened, we got the keys to our new house. It had taken nearly a year to buy, with our own house sale falling through the week of Brexit. The stress of estate agents and solicitors, I think I went a little mad! Everyone else thought we were actually mad as we moved from our gorgeous renovated period property, to an ugly 60's house with overgrown Leylandii and a caravan in the garden! I over course had romantic ideas of turning the caravan into a bar and the house would be quite simple to renovate, right!!?? I've watched George Clarks ‘Ugly House to Lovely House’, how difficult can it be?
Fast forward six months and the cancer that my Dad had safely managed to keep at bay for the past three years had started to take hold. At the beginning of August we checked into the hospice where we spent the days together as a family, each day getting harder and harder. On the 10th day we were leaving without my Dad. I never imagined I would be strong enough to cope with what we had been through. How I managed to organise my Dad's funeral on my own, how I managed to chat to everyone at his wake and how I managed to be strong for my boys who were distraught. In reality, I don’t think I did.
Just four weeks after my Dad's funeral, we were on the M4 driving my eldest son to Bristol University. I couldn't be more proud of him achieving the results he did (he's my child after all, "are you the one with brains or personality?" one of my Grandma's friends once said!) Needless to say, I was the latter! Despite being so proud and excited about his amazing future, I was bereft all over again. I was brave and only cried a little as we said goodbye.
So why am I pouring over the details of my year again? Well, with all of that, something had to give and it was Vintage Style Hire, and all the networking! The business I have built up over seven years, one that I loved, got a little neglected. Well, I wouldn't say neglected as we've bought some fabulous furniture along the way, we've done some amazing weddings and events this year with fabulous companies, such as The Pop Up Hotel at Glastonbury and at venues like Trinity Buoy Wharf and worked with incredible planners and stylists. Writing it down like that, there doesn't seem to be a problem. And really there isn't, but the interactIon, the relationships, the photo shoots, the collaborations and just getting yourself out there, became dormant.
So, back to Friday. The relationships that I've formed having opened the shop, led me to Kay at Kindship Creative. An amazing stylist who also hosts inspiring workshops and one that caught my eye was with guest speaker Hayley Southwood from Southwood Stores. I've 'known' Hayley for years. When I first started Vintage Style Hire in 2011, she owned Mrs Scoops, an amazing Ice Cream Van selling ice creams at weddings and events. I'd read an article on her in 'Country Homes & Interiors' magazine where she won Country Business of the Year. I was inspired to enter the following year and came a runner-up! Her talk at Kay's Kinship Gathering was in Manningtree in Essex, so I had to go and finally meet this incredible lady!
I had a lovely morning travelling with my friend Emma who owns French Loaf Holidays and The Common Room. Talk about #strongertogether, she has whipped me into shape to start making plans for Vintage Style Hire and to reignite my passion for the year ahead. The Common Room (which we helped style!) offers daily hot desks and whilst I have an office at home and one at the shop, the distractions that both these spaces bring, will be erased and I can focus on my plans.
The talk by Hayley was also very inspiring and I'm now ready to work out the best plans for my business and where the next year will take me. One thing is for sure, is I'm going to spend more time attending the fabulous events that Kay and Hayley offer women in business. #strongertogether