Some of you that follow me on Instagram might have noticed that about 8 months ago I started a new online business, selling rustic salvaged and reclaimed homewares and props for photography.
I’ve had lots of questions from followers and friends and family asking if this is now my new career, was I giving up my styling work, was my new business @Theoldpotatostore going to be a bricks and mortar shop and open to the public and why the name, The Old Potato Store?
So as I’ve not written a blog post for 6 months, shame on me I know, and it is something I feel strongly that I want to continue with, after listening to my friend @susanearlem speak about the future of blogging at Altrincham Word Fest, I thought writing about the journey of @Theoldpotatostore would be an interesting blog post to kick start me and answer some of those questions?
So it all started around 6 years ago when my friend Jenny, an upholsterer was looking for premises to move her business to. Somewhere she could work from, uninterrupted away from her home life, and provide a showroom for her clients to meet her, look at her work and discuss their projects.
Jen had an allotment and through talking to the treasurer of The Allotment society, she discovered that they were selling one of their premises which they had owned since the turn of the last Century. Jen came to see me and asked if I was interested in buying it with her, which of course I wasn’t, but to humour her and not drown her spirits, I went to view it and was immediately smitten by it’s charm. The single storey brick building, with original flagstone floor and two separate entrance doors, was perfect for carving up into two separate buildings, and was also a steal and almost too good not to buy. Jen had also been told we could have first dibs on it and it would be ours if we offered the asking price, which of course we did the very next day.
As a busy working stylist, I had no immediate use for my half of the building so for the last 5 years I’ve rented it out, but in October last year my tenant gave me notice and I took the keys back. Now I could have easily got a new tenant, the building is in the heart of a thriving town, down a quiet street and is as I’ve already mentioned, full of character, but over the years I’d often thought about using it for something of my own.
I knew working in the creative industries, as a freelance stylist is often feast or famine. Many job offers come in together and you can of course only accept one and then there might not be anything else for 2 weeks, a bit like waiting for a bus, all or nothing. After reading Emma Gannons book, “The Multi Hyphen Method” Emma confirms that through the internet and our phones we are now able to work from anywhere, any time and because of this it allows us to have multiple streams of income. I realised after reading Emmas book, that I could start a side hustle business very easily, with very little overheads, as I owned the building and I could work on my own terms, as and when I wasn’t working on photo shoots or TV commercials. Starting a new business, no longer needed to be an all in situation!
The name of the business came quite quickly. The allotment society had used the building to store seeds and bulbs and once a week opened it for purchases such as potato plants. The Old Potato Store, was a nostalgic reminder of the previous life of this little old building.
The nature of the business, selling rustic decorative home wares was also an easy decision. Since getting married almost 30 years ago, myself and Mr B have been buying antiques and attending antique markets all over the country and Europe and our home is full of unique and individual items. As a stylist a large part of my work is taken up with shopping and often for interesting and unusual items for shoots. I didn’t want to set up a props hire business as I know this is demanding and requires a lot of admin, something I was glad to leave behind from my previous job as an underwriter. I’d had a small vintage shop years ago, which I wrote about here and used to sell vintage clothes and textiles when my children were little, so I knew a lot of dealers and also knew I had a good eye for a decorative item. I could style a shot and take a decent enough photograph, who can’t these days to be honest, so the idea for a virtual pop up store was born.
It’s been perfect timing in many ways. Since November my elderly mum has become ill and needs more of my time and care and it’s allowed me to step back a little from long hours working all over the country on shoots and taken the pressure off a little, whilst still allowing me to earn money for the family pot. Going to my little building, listening to a podcast with a coffee and styling and photographing my found treasures has been so satisfying and almost like therapy. The calmness of the building with it’s thick brick walls and gentle light has been described by a friend as almost church like and no matter whats going on in my life, it all seems to melt away for an hour or two when i’m in there.
The thrill of seeing everything being snapped up and going to a new home and then seeing the customers posting their purchases on their instagram accounts, styled up by them, always brings a smile to my face.
I’m hoping eventually, as the business grows, to build a website so that I can shopify my posts and hope to one day open The Old Potato Store as a physical shop with enough charm and style to be able to offer it for hire as a workshop space for other creatives. It’s a big dream, but I believe in dreaming big.
If there’s anything similarly rustic that you’d like me to try and source for you, please send me a message and follow my page for constantly changing stock. Thanks for getting on board and supporting me so far x