the fam

the fam

Monday, 26 May 2014

Down To from the heart

I wasn't sure how to start this post. The last few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions but I needed to write all this down for my own sanity if nothing else.

Quote by Mandy Hale

Since Christmas, I've not been at all happy with the business. The stress of running a small business has really been taking it's toll on me physically and emotionally. My health has suffered as a result and I've been struggling with the fact that most of my waking hours are taken up by work.

I've wrestled with the guilt of not spending enough time with the kids and I've felt angry at putting so many hours in with so little to show for it. This year financially has been a shocker and I'm not ashamed to say it. With the pressure of keeping sales up to a certain level in these recession-hit days, has been no mean feat. Take the mortgage, endless bills and household outgoings, add rent for premises, staff, VAT, massive commission charges on a certain marketplace website, tax, insurance (for everything!), huge amounts for supplies, even bills to listen to your own goddamn radio while you get the picture.
This is our job, we don't have any other income.True, it was our choice to start the business (out of necessity at the time) but we've worked our arses off over the years.

Nobody can say we haven't tried.

Painting til 4am with tonsillitis takes dedication. Crawling out of bed with the norovirus to deliver the post takes dedication...something me and Steve have no doubt about it!
But there comes a point when all that dedication and hard work should pay off.

Don't get me wrong, we've achieved so much and I'm proud of us. Proud that we've won awards and our products have been featured in virtually EVERY national home magazine, wedding magazine, newspapers, blogs and even on the TV...we did all that. When we started the business sitting on craft markets at 5am earning peanuts, we never imagined we'd get this far!


We've bought a house and had two beautiful kids and we try our best to have a nice family life but I've had enough.

The amount of hours we work far outweighs what we earn. To be honest, I desperately need a change.

We've tried every outlet to sell our work but making everything from scratch to order, hand painting and hand finishing each item takes time. These days it seems far important to 'some' that orders are delivered within a couple of days, nobody wants to wait, everything has to be instant, there is no alternative.

Well, actually there is. It's our business and we're making some changes. We can't compete with mass produced imports taken straight out of a box. We have no problem with imports but we can't sell on the same terms. What we can do is try to appeal to those who appreciate the time it sometimes takes for a handmade product.

We're taking control back and going our own way. This means cutting back in different areas but so be it...this is where we have no choice.

Last week, we said goodbye to our office manager Charlotte. It was a heart-breaking decision for us but sadly necessary while we decide on our next step. We will miss her more than I can say.

We're not giving up, just giving in to the intolerable pressures and changing things for the good of our family.
We have a little something up our sleeve for the Summer and we're taking on new ventures. For now, we're going to see what happens.

We know for a fact that it's tough out there for small businesses. The ones that speak to us privately prove that. Publicly, most business owners will put on that brave face and say that everything is fine. Nobody wants to be seen as a failure. Some days I've felt exactly that but then it dawned on me, that actually it's ok.

It's not failing, it's changing and change is good.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Expressions #1

I love reading other people's life, vintage finds, home decor and weddings are among my favourites but I struggle for time to read them all!

I recently came across Actually Mummy's Expressions linky. Photography is another big love of mine and the portraits in the Expressions series are fabulous. So this week, now I seem to have my blogging mojo back, I decided to join in.

I've just had a very much needed week off with my youngest little boy and was also able to fetch my eldest from school everyday. This has been a treat for me as I'm usually working full time. We were lucky with the weather too and headed off to the park as much as possible...their smiley faces make all the hard work worthwhile.

Expressions photos

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This and That.

My last proper family post was back in September (really??!) and now it's May again, almost June!
I've missed a whole two seasons and I've really missed writing on here.

So what have we been doing??

September to December were the usual mental months in the run-up to Christmas with the added joys of colds and tonsillitis but the Christmas holiday was brilliant. Time off to enjoy with the kids and my Mum and Dad came for Christmas day.

Fast forward to February and there was a worrying few weeks of illness - my Mum for 3 weeks and Alfie for a week. Both of them were hit pretty hard and stayed in bed to recover.

Thankfully, just before the bugs hit, we celebrated Alfie's birthday and took him out for a birthday treat with his best friend Keziah to Cadbury World.

We had lots of other 'doing' days and trips out and about...

We're lucky to have the beautiful Belton House on our doorstep and our National Trust membership is well used! It means we can even pop along for an afternoon for a walk around the gardens or a run around in the adventure playground and not have far to go home.