BY TAMRA BOOTH, KEEEPS
There is so much going on at Keeeps at the moment and over the last few months, it feels like the business is going from strength to strength. With that comes lots of exciting new plans, events and a mountain of work!
It’s easy to show off only the successes, great results and exciting happenings that come with starting your own business. What you don’t see on social media, or from many start-up businesses, is the challenges, the disasters and the major graft that goes on in the background to get it off the ground and transform an idea you had over a few drinks, into a fully-fledged, profit-making business set up for the long term.
What you can expect to see from our “Keeeping Up” series is exactly that. A summary of our month to include the good, the bad, and the ugly. An honest picture of what it is like running Keeeps, not just the business side, but from a personal perspective of juggling a a new business, kids and another job too.
So, tune in on the last Friday of every month and we’ll give you an update as to what we’ve been up to at Keeeps HQ!
Kicking us off then is September, and what a month to start with. It was probably one of the busiest, most fun but stressful months in Keeeps’ (short but eventful!) history so far. Here’s a little round up of everything that happened:
SEPTEMBER MONTHLY UPDATE
INTERVIEWING FOR THE STORE VACANCIES
We spent a good part of the month advertising for and interviewing technicians, shop managers and shop assistants. One of Keeeps’ main goals is to create a consistent and sensational customer experience that we can then hone and roll out across our future stores. To achieve that, we were looking for positive, friendly, helpful, kind and fun people who are interested in pottery and/or art and, boy, were we spoilt for choice!
We were absolutely blown away by the amazing response to our adverts, particularly for the part time shop assistants. We have interviewed and met many fascinating and lovely people and it was hard to choose but we now have our team ready to go. We do have one more part-time pottery technician role available so get in touch if you are interested. Plus we plan to open more stores in the future, so drop us a line if you want to join our pottery tribe!
PUB IN THE PARK
You may have seen (in fact, you definitely will have seen if you follow us on social media) that we were lucky enough to have our very own Keeeps stall at Pub in the Park, Marlow.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Pub in the Park, it is now the biggest food and music festival tour in the UK which travelled around eight locations in the UK this year. It celebrates the Great British pub and everything it offers – food, drinks and enjoying both with friends and family.
Truth be told, I was absolutely bricking it before the event! I hadn’t been to Pub in the Park before, and facing the unknown is never a pleasant experience, is it? What if no one talks to us? What happens if no one signs up? What if there is no interest? And these are just a few of the thousand doubts I didn’t know I had before attending the event. We are also in the middle of planning our first store in Marlow, so with the mammoth amount of work being expended on that, I found myself wondering why I was doing it and felt conflicted over where I should be spending my time.
With it being such a massive opportunity, however, we went for it. So, with our best kitchenware tucked under our arms (we mean, packed in around 10000 cubic metres of corn starch), we went to set up our stall.
Meeting you all!
Whilst we went with some of our best products, the expectation wasn’t to sell much pottery, but to get ourselves out there, meet and greet the locals and say hello! To our delight lots of the lovely locals and visitors told us they knew Keeeps already from our social media presence so it was great to meet some of our online crowd in the flesh! And we sold way more pottery than we thought!
We spoke to over a thousand people over the 4 nights and 3 days that we were there, and some people even made a beeline for our stall, having seen the “coming soon” signage on the high street store, followed us on social and some were existing website customers. It was amazing to see how the brand has become noticed over the last year, and to see people mega excited about our shop opening and classes was just the cherry on top. It was fantastic to hear so much appreciation for handmade products and generally what Keeeps is all about. And the icing on the cake was when Marlow FM spotted us and came over to interview me live from the stall. It's a well loved local radio station and being interviewed about something you love really takes away the nerves!
On Monday, once it was all over, I felt completely exhausted but mostly full of joy from the warm welcome we received, and it was a huge confidence boost that other people are excited about what we are building at Keeeps and where the business is going.
Of course, no large event is complete without a few mishaps shall we say! A lack of display tables meant a (very) last minute plea for help to Jules’ (our store manager) husband, Noel, who screeched up to the stall in his car with a foldup table just in the nick of time! As seems to be the case with electronic payments, it was playing up, so there will have to be some serious system testing before store opening. Luckily our customers were so kind (or just buzzing from being at the festival!) and patient and we got around it.
Getting the team together
Along with the lovely people that visited the stall, I got to see another great group of people get together. That is the new Keeeps team who have already picked up the pottery passion from me and who completely pulled it out of the bag. We had Jules, Lucia, Amber and Daisy smiling and grafting on the stall, not only being great with our customers, but really getting stuck in with the set up and set down which was rather hectic but always fun.
Behind the scenes, we had other members of the team beavering away: Vienna with her no-nonsense marketing advice, Meg with her writing prowess, Merrigan with her PR excitement, Danny and Louise who turned around the artwork and printing in record time, Lou my awesome coach, and Amy whose (excuse my French) sh*t hot PA skills meant no stone was left unturned. Of course, there was also my other half Si, who is forever supporting me in my crazy pottery endeavours and kept me going during my “What am I doing!?” moments.
Whoever said, “There is no ‘i’ in team” was bang on the money.
COLLECTED AN ANTIQUE POTTERY WHEEL
Finally, amongst all the shop fit out and Pub in the Park chaos, this month I came across a fascinating old manual kick wheel online, and just had to have it for the new store. I went and collected it from a potter in Oxfordshire, who no longer had room for it, and it is a beauty. Sure, it’s a bit rough around the edges but it is a nod to the incredible history of pottery and it’ll be displayed proudly within the shop showroom – that’s if I can bring myself to move it from my home office where it is currently taking pride of place!
So there you have it, just a little taster as to what is going on behind the scenes here at Keeeps. Next month, I’m hoping to give you the update of all updates on what is going on with our new store, so come back to the Potter’s Block at the end of next month to Keeeping up with Keeeps, October style.
See you then,