Tiddler and Fox News
This has to be my favourite time of year, its a time to slow down a touch and prepare for winter, rejoice in the changing seasons and the changing colours. The air is fresher and seems full of life to me.
I love the promise of chilly weather, lighting the fire and settling in for those long winter evenings. I find I'm more productive and happier to be on the sofa making something, writing a newsletter or whatever needs doing each day without the pressure to be off somewhere as I do on summer evenings.
I still walk as much as possible, I walk all year round and prefer it in the colder months as I don't get as hot and sweaty! Much more pleasurable.
For me, its a time to get the crockpot out and try a few new recipes, I just love the smells radiating around the house all day. The simple pleasure of looking forward to a healthy and hearty meal that has taken little effort but after 8 hours of cooking tastes amazing.
I've added a few new autumnal recipes to my Pinterest Autumn board to try, let me know if you try anything new this season, as I'm always looking for new and exciting things to eat.
Now is the time to read all those books and magazines that have been piling up and catch up on blog posts that I haven't had time to read.
This is also a busy time for retailers and I'm busy behind the scenes preparing for Christmas but making sure I slow down for a bit before the rush begins!
There is one thing that make autumn just the best time of year though....no more flies or midges!!
Let me know what you love about autumn and if you look forward to winter. Until next time x
No matter how much time you spend talking to friends and family, colleagues, plus the world and his dog about business before you get started, there is simply nothing better for your development and learning, than actually doing.
So when I started my business, I certainly wasn't arrogant enough to think that I knew what I was doing, in fact, I was well aware that I knew less than nothing. So my first year was a vertical learning curve; thoroughly enjoyable, incredibly frustrating at times but a wonderful and exciting challenge.
I also read a great deal about business, followed lots of blogs (still do) and read a lot of newsletters and often came across blogs posts titled something like 'what I wish I'd known before I started'.
So I thought I would add my thoughts to this with the 8 biggest lessons I learnt in my first year of Tiddler & Fox.
Ask for help - as I have said, I knew I didn't really know what I was doing but I was not afraid to ask for help. Don't feel like you should be an expert straight away - you won't be and you'll have a million questions, so if in doubt - just ask! There is a lot of free advice out there, as well as that which you'll have to pay for, but it does reap rewards to look for as much help and information as possible.
Read lots - I have read an immense amount of information in the form of blogs and email newsletters, listened to podcasts and so on and again, all this for free and it has been invaluable - so read as much as you can. You may only take one piece of advice from an article but that that one thing could be a game changer for you.
Network - meet people and make those people like-minded! You'll need support from people who know what you are talking about and can feel your pain - sorry pleasures - of being in business. Again, lots of free networking out there as well as paid, so try it all, you never know who you'll meet - I've made some amazing friends through networking and they all 'get' me and my business.
Get Training - this goes back to the point of asking for help - if you know you have a weakness in one area - get some training on it. There are lots of free training seminars and courses out there for small businesses so find as much as you possibly can, but you may have to pay for more in-depth training.
Don't overspend - I got carried away at the beginning with branded this, that and pretty much everything. I don't regret it but I could have done with reigning myself in - most of it wasn't necessary, at least not to begin with.
Don't try to rush things - it will take longer than you think. As with much in life, it won't happen overnight, let things grow naturally and sustainably and don't rush into things without thinking them through - expensive mistakes happen this way - you will however learn a huge amount from them!
Be flexible - things will change all the time, you learn as you go along and life also has a habit of getting in your way - be flexible enough to adapt and change, not just to external changes and your own learning and ideas but to your customers needs and wants.
Have fun - biggest lesson of all - plus don't take yourself too seriously. If like me, you are in it for the long haul, you have to enjoy it, otherwise why are you doing it?!
Speaking of fun, the sun is out, so I'm going to make the most of it and have a cuppa outside! Until next time x
Happy New Year...sorry I'm a bit late! I know we are already over halfway through January and it's been 3 weeks since I added a post but, for reasons I will explain in a later blog post, it feels as if my year has only just begun. I've only just started to get my plans and goals for 2017 down on paper, having reviewed 2016 only 3 days ago!
I have a very good excuse for my slowness in getting to grips with a new year, believe me and I'll tell you all about it another time but I did manage to schedule in a weekend away to Dartmouth in Devon in order to re-set and find my mojo again.
I used the time very well, getting to grips with my new circumstances, review last year both personally and professionally and to start setting my mind to 2017; where I'm going, what I'm doing, what I'm not doing (!) and how I'm going to do it all.
As usual I've gone into overwhelm a couple of times, this afternoon to be exact when all the stuff now sitting on my desk with notes, goals and to-do's just became too much to bear and I turned to doing something practical instead. I don't know about you but I find just getting up from my chair and doing something useful with my hands can be a powerful antidote to any anxiety lurking in the background. It worked and I was able to crack on with a few more tasks and with positivity too.
This year will be a very different one for me, for lots of reasons and I'll blog about my transformations as I go along, hopefully you'll find it inspiring and a catalyst to make some changes too, but for now, I'll tell you all about my relaxing weekend in Dartmouth. (my stay was booked through these guys)
I booked the trip months ago and have been looking forward to getting away for weeks, I knew it would be a line in the sand for me and I was right, I feel better and more centred as a result.
The journey down to Devon was crisp and sunny and having found the apartment, I was able to relax, open the wine and just 'be'.
The kittens had gone to the local cattery and it was nice just for a couple of days, to not be at their beck and call for food! They have been super clingy since I picked them up yesterday, which is cute.
On Saturday I made the walk out to Dartmouth Castle. I love a bit of history and had a nice half hour or more wandering around, doing an impression of my dad, which is reading EVERYTHING that told me all about the castle. If anyone had been with me I know they would have got more than a little bored, but heck, I was free to mooch, so I did! And I loved it, so nice to wander and soak up the atmosphere, wonder what life in the 1600's was really like, all that stuff.
Prior to that I'd wandered into town and had a pretty brilliant coffee and blueberry bakewell tart in The Deli at Dartmouth. I do love sitting and watching people go by and just marvelling at all the goodies on display, check out the photo below and if you like what you see, find out more here.
As anyone who knows me will testify, food is pretty much the most important thing in my life, so true to form, I had a very nice lunch in the Smith Street Deli, (their Facebook page is here) gorgeous looking and very tasty, I think you'll agree:
Sunday lunch was expertly taken care of by the Bayards Cove Inn, thanks for one of the best chowders I've ever had! No photo I'm afraid, I was too hungry! But you can check out the pub here
I was staying just out of the town centre by the lower ferry and had this amazing view.
Needless to say I did make the most of being able to sit by the french doors with a coffee and watch the ferry toing and froing across the river. I found it quite reassuring, the backwards and forwards of the ferry all day long, reliable and dependable.
The rest of the time was spent drinking wine....not really, I did do lots of planning, goal setting, reading and thinking (yes I know, unbelievable) but there was wine too!
I'll share some of my planning and goal setting and how I go about it in the future when it looks a little bit more organised than it does now, plus I'll be sharing what I'm reading this year and what I'm journalling about too.
So, lots of change to come in my world, let me know what changes you're making this year and we can make the journey together!
Yesterday my sister in law asked me how the last two Christmas markets have gone and I had to be honest and tell her that one had not been so great and the other had been pretty good and totally worth getting out of bed for!
It occurred to me that I haven't talked about my experiences at fairs lately, and, lets face it, there's been a few. This year has been a steep learning curve for me and a lot of that has been around doing fairs and markets. I've been happily testing the water here, there and everywhere to find out what works for me and just as importantly, what doesn't and the Christmas fairs have been no exception.
The atmosphere at most have been brilliant, especially the two day market in Sherborne the weekend before last when the town was super festive and shoppers were out looking for lovely gifts. I love that type of fair, you meet such happy people and you know that the products of yours that they are buying will go as gifts to loved ones, which makes it very special when you sell a piece of handmade jewellery or a hand painted trinket box. I almost do that happy dance that creators and makers do when someone buys their stuff!
But I'm still learning too, so each time I take away some experience, sometimes, it's that I won't be doing that fair again in the future, or that each place has its own type of customer with their own expectations, or a piece of advice from a fellow trader, or even that simply, I'm getting bored of cheese sandwiches and must make myself something else to take to fairs!
I've also learnt to stay positive, no matter what happens on the day, I always come away with something, maybe not as much money as I had hoped but knowledge too, which has been invaluable.
So, there have been 29 fairs so far this year and by the time I finish my last fair of the year on the 20th December, I will have done 32 markets and fairs. Phew!
Some have taken me by surprise, some have been hilarious and one in particular was the catalyst to making me focus my mind on what I'm doing and the direction I'm taking in a way that I haven't considered before. So much more on that to come in 2017....
Not only have I learnt a huge amount, I've also made some amazing friends and been surprised and delighted at how supportive the traders all are to each other. It's great being able to say bye to each other at the end of the day and end with a 'see you next week', it's a little bit like having colleagues again...ones that you actually like..!
So, three Christmas Markets to go, and I'm now starting to feel festive and I'm tempted to get some Christmas films on the go and buy some stollen, to go with my litres of coffee daily. But I'm holding off...just until the 21st December when I can stop....and relax.
If you would like to know where I'll be this week and next, click here.
Until next time x
I wrote months ago about being in Mollys Den in West Bay, Dorset which has been great fun, and a huge learning curve too, so today I wanted to do a quick update on the new Den that opened last weekend in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Traders secured their spaces in the new Den back in the summer and after a period of time waiting for building works to be completed, we were able to get into the new warehouse to set up our spaces last week.
Lucky for me, Luke had some time off to help me take down the furniture on tuesday, so off we went in a convoy of two cars stuffed full of my hand painted vintage furniture. It took us quite a while to get it all in and then get it covered up whilst the work on the building was still going on around us (that's retail for you, fast paced and right down to the wire!). Luke was then treated to a pub lunch as a thank you, lucky boy!
I then went back on the friday to finish off and take lots more lovely stock down with me including lots of new finds that I had hunted down recently, including vintage bottles, silver trays and enamel bowls.
I love the atmosphere that the Dens create, especially when they are busy and buzzing with traders. We don't often get to meet as it's up to us how often we go to replace stock, tidy our areas etc, so meeting our 'neighbours' is a rare occurrence.
However, as we were all there to finish off setting up, I got to meet my neighbours either side of me, and to have a good chat and exchange ideas. One thing I've been surprised about having gone into business, is just how supportive other people in business are. I guess we all know exactly what each other is talking about, we can share ideas and if we need to vent our frustration about something, we totally 'get' each other!
I am very excited to be a part of the expansion that Mollys Den is going through at the moment, with mini Dens popping up too, all with cafe's and there are plans for new Dens in the new year. More about that in 2017 (I can't tell you much more than that as basically I don't know much more than that!!)
I love that vintage, handmade and artisan are all very much in vogue right now and have been for some time, I love re-using, re-purposing and loving items with a history, and so it seems do a lot more people in this world. not only do we get unique and one of a kind pieces in our home but we are doing our bit for the environment by re-using and recycling.
So here is my new space in Mollys Den, Salisbury, all ready and waiting for lots of lovely customers! Let me know what you think in the comments (This image was posted on Instagram and already I've had interest in the painting from a follower in Hawaii.....yes you read that right!)
Mollys Den, Salisbury can be found opposite the 6th Form College in Tollgate Road, Salisbury SP1 2JG.
For info on all the Dens, click here.
Until next time x
Its hectic upon hectic here at Tiddler & Fox HQ, after a 3 day shopping show at the weekend; one day to set up, 3 days selling with a late night on Sunday, it was straight into preparing to move into a new shopping emporium in Salisbury which opens this Saturday (find all the details at the end of this post) with stock to price and sort and then packed up and off we went today.
As is the norm in retail, everything was chaos when we got there but a happy atmosphere as all of us traders set about getting our areas looking lovely. Just a few finishing touches later this week and it's good to go. I'm really pleased and looking forward to another new challenge. (plus there will be T&F goodies in another emporium in January 2017 but more on that to come!)
I will post in more detail next week when I have images to show you and the doors are open to shop, shop, shop. But its a great space and the cafe looks set to be awesome too, just bring me coffee and I'm happy.
So on top of that I almost forgot yesterday that the business was one year old.
Amazing to forget but there is so much my tiny bear brain can take so it dawned on me mid afternoon and I posted to social media and had some lovely responses. So nice to have the support when its been a full-on, non-stop, mind blowing year of learning, growing, developing and changing but overall I have to admit that it's been pretty darn amazing. I'm really looking forward to everything the next year will bring....
Now it's less than a month to Christmas I hope everyone is starting to feel festive, I have another 6 markets to go, with a full weekend this weekend in Sherborne (all the details are on the Craft and Vintage fairs page) and I'm really enjoying meeting such lovely customers and getting great feedback, makes all this hard work and endless thinking worth it.
So it's just a short post this week as my to-do list is packed full and there simply isn't enough coffee to keep me awake at the moment but here's to a great year for Tiddler & Fox with many more to come, thank you for reading and happy birthday to me!
The new Mollys Den in Salisbury can be found opposite the 6th Form college in Tollgate Road. Opening day is Saturday 3rd December at 10am and there will be live music, fizz and nibbles! (115 Tollgate Road, Salisbury, SP1 2JG) www.mollys-den.co.uk