Friday, 16 November 2012

My biggest Friday Flowers announcement ever:

Today, on my 371st post, I am so pleased and proud to announce the unexpected and early arrival of...
the real life Covet & Collect experience, founded October 26, 2012, (although built over 355 years ago!) and weighing in, tonnes I guess: 
As anyone used to these kinds of announcements will tell you, the first few weeks are a blur - and that pretty much covers the lack of blog posts to date. 

There's a ton of stuff you really can't prepare for - like having to figure out what to do with hundreds of cardboard boxes (the dirty nappies of retailing), figuring out how to work the other side of a card machine, and making decisions about how to spend one's limited funds on stock. 

Covet & Collect was always going to be an online experience (no 19) - and while I've not mastered that yet, Chelsea Flower Show sparked an idea that became a reality - the idea that my little village, where I've settled reasonably happily, could do with a studio dealing in interiors, design, and all things covetable and collectable. Fortunately, I've met an amazing business partner who thinks very similarly, and she's a doer to boot - so within six months we fleshed out our idea, worked on our target markets, drew up a business plan, started sourcing incredible vintage stock from far flung places including antique fairs and containers in fields, met interesting and inspiring artisans and independent suppliers, negotiated with wholesalers and found a premises.

While the website still sits in development, we're open and we're trading. The first three weeks have been so much fun, such a learning curve, and hard work. Shopkeeping is physical work! I have much bigger biceps than I had a month ago! 

We were lucky enough to chance upon the most perfect shop in the village - a walk in the miserable misty rain feeling most despondent about the lack of premises in Hamble led to us popping into the local boat broker, asking politely if they *ever, ever* considered giving up their lease to please let us know. Given they'd been here since 1989 it seemed impossible - but it turned out they'd done just that not 72 hours before. And from there it just snowballed...

The building is from before 1659 - and we've heard tales from locals who have known it as a hardware store with the only Christmas crackers in the village back in 1944, through a dress shop in the 50's, and a sweet shop with jars of boiled sweets for a ha'penny. We've transformed it into what we call our botanical room, leading onto the kitchen, where I do flowers: 
When I first posted Friday flowers more than 3 years ago - 
(some tulips over a week old that I had cut short into a Moroccan glass from Zoe - an exercise in mindfulness) I had no idea it would lead to a whole new career - but 3 years of being obsessed with flowers has paid off, and I'm overwhelmed by the support and encouragement of clients:
(sorry, hands shaky with excitement)
The front room is where the desk is, a beautiful table of reclaimed wood, opposite a chef's whatnot full of Burleigh ceramics and other kitchenalia: 
and an etagere with ever-changing display of gifts, homewares and ideas to copy at home:
Upstairs is what we call the Nautical Room - it is where all our boating and marine influenced interior pieces can be found - alongside a bespoke made sofa from contemporary furniture makers and interior designers Origins Design, who we are lucky enough to work with:
and our dormer room - unabashedly feminine in its colours and approach, a hybrid of carefully curated antiques, vintage and modern pieces:
Please check out the facebook page - Covet & Collect - where I'll be posting some better pictures and more stories. The shop has had a storming first three weeks, and there's so much to chat about - now that the initial scary part is over, expect more to follow. 

None of this would have been possible without the blog or without my incredible support system - my friends and sister. In setting all this up I've been missing on skype, flaky on text, never on email, and only occasionally on the phone - yet in all of that, my friends have been such rocks - sending messages, calls, and jumping in the car to come visit and help out whenever they can. How lucky I am, and how grateful. 

Have a happy weekend - 


Nina Gill said...

Well done Carly & Partner...So very proud of articulate in your description and so beautifully put..Well done...Lotsa love from the Botswana Crowd.

Carly {covet.collect.connect} said...

Thanks Nina- have had so much support and kind words, more news to follow- think I must do a Thanksgiving post tomorrow! Cx

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