Sunday 8th July, 2012. It rained, spectacularly, Andy Murray didn’t win at Wimbledon, and I did the worst S&A sale in a long time. Seriously, no one wanted to buy anything. It wasn’t the event’s fault, loads of people came, bought other stuff and left. We’ve done the same event before and sold loads. As I wanted to watch the tennis anyway, I packed up early and abandoned. I don’t do that often, as I am ridiculously optimistic generally and always think that the next person through the door might be on the lookout for exactly what we stock, and in the mood to spend a LOT of money, even when all evidence points to the contrary. (Mindless optimism, I believe is the phrase.) But on Sunday, I crumbled. I went and watched the tennis and sobbed into my strawberries when Murray lost, partly because I felt sorry for him, partly because I had brought back every single item that I had taken with me that morning. Grim. Combined with recent setbacks in the t-shirt ordering process (our stockists not having the colours that we want, and prices going up, and lovely Tricia who prints them having a fire at her house…) it was the closest I’ve come, yet, to bundling all of our stuff onto a big bonfire marked ‘poorly conceived ideas best forgotten.’
But a few things happened to change my mind. I had a lovely email from a lady whose daughter had been given a dress of ours for a birthday present, telling us how much she loved it, and then in the park, I saw no less than three small boys wearing our t-shirts. And I thought, yeah! That’s brilliant! We should definitely keep trying.
It’s tough, at the moment, selling t-shirts for £10-£12 when you know you can walk into Tescos and buy one for less than a fiver. Even if you know that our t-shirts are produced ethically, designed and printed locally; or that the dresses are hand-sewn in Norfolk, or that our bags are made by a charity helping street children in India. Who cares, frankly, when everyone’s struggling with making ends meet? But sometimes tough is good. It makes you dig your heels in, and work even harder to make something good, something you think is worthwhile. It might be the mindless optimism again (it’s back !) – but I don’t feel like burning stuff so much.
Unless anyone wants to send me a stack of A-ha records. I ALWAYS feel like burning them. That’s right. Take on ME!