If you’ve popped in lately you may have noticed some slight changes to Bunyip & Otton’s since the start of April – although these outward changes have been minimal, we have actually gone through a fairly significant change in the structure of our businesses. Like all excellent life decisions, Mattie and I had this one after a few glasses of wine in a hotel in Birmingham in February.
Flashback: since we moved Bunyip out onto Fore Street in 2013 we’ve been functioning as 2 businesses – Mattie’s long standing Bunyip Beads & Buttons, and my own Otton’s Haberdashery. I could never have done this without Mattie & Bunyip (and other wonderful people of course!), from the business starting advice to the friendship support to the relief of so many financial burdens of opening a retail space – especially one in such a big, beautiful and expensive shop!
I’d always wanted to open a haberdashery (well I always wanted to open a ribbon shop, but that’s because I have weird ribbon love that I’m not sure would be reciprocated by the public enough to sustain a business) because I’d always felt most at home when sewing, a feeling that I think you can only relate to about that one thing in your life that makes you feel centered – craft or gardening or dancing or music or whatever it is that makes your soul happy. This has never meant that I’m the best sewer in the world, but I never wanted to be – I just love to make things, and get masses of enjoyment out of the process.
I opened the shop on very little money, and was incredibly lucky to be allowed to live at home by my ever generous parents, who still continue to house me and make me cups of tea when I’m hungover. This meant that I never had to pay myself from the shop profits, ensuring that I could put almost the entirety of any excess money back into stock, keeping the stock levels as high as I could. The downside to this was that I never had a huge amount of money in stock, with the actual costs of running the previously mentioned big & beautiful retail space meaning I really struggled to build the business – my (respectable) turnover was covering costs and stock but not allowing me the chance to grow.
Speaking of growth, there was obviously my life too. When I opened the shop I was 22, fresh out of University and more than willing to give the shop everything, sacrificing being able to settle myself financially – get a full time job, start paying my student loans back and get a place for myself. The shop is now 2.5 years old, I’m 25 and increasingly desiring the financial stability to start feeling like a fully fledged grown up – or at least a young woman who buys wine that costs more than £4.75 a bottle (joke – I’ll never give you up delicious cheap Sauvignon).
Back to present day. We’d spent the weekend at the CHSI show in Birmingham, a trade show that in theory showcases the upcoming trends & hot items for the next year. What we’d noticed, even with our hangover heads on, was that it was all sewing related. Beautiful fabrics and contemporary kits – this was where all the innovation was. This was pretty deflating for me, since I wanted to buy so many wonderful things, knowing that they’d sell to our super cool customers (hey guys) and that they would be as excited by them as I was – I just didn’t have the money to put into it, especially with rent day looming. This is when the idea presented itself – Mattie offered to buy my business, giving me enough financial stability to move myself and the business forward. Under her ownership the shop could really grow, gaining all this wonderful stock that it so desperately needed and really allow it to flourish in the way that I always wanted it to.
To be honest, I jumped at this idea. Although I loved owning the business and being self employed (well, it has its moments!) I really felt like this wasn’t about me. I wanted the shop to reach its full potential, and I knew that I wasn’t able to do this, at any time in the near future at least. The real thing that sealed this deal was Mattie’s other offer, to employ me full time. So for me, I would now be getting paid more than £1 an hour (genuinely what I was paying myself a lot of the time), would still get to do the best job in the world and would get to see the shop, hopefully, grow and conquer Exeter, and then the world. Easy decision.
Now the important bit – how does this affect you, wonderful customers & friends of Otton’s Haberdashery? It doesn’t! The shop is still functioning in the same way, I’m still here, the stock is still here, it’s all just hopefully more awesome than it was before (it so is – even just a month in!). The Otton’s website will eventually have all its shop items moved over to the Bunyip website, and you may just notice a decline in my Otton’s social media posts. This is only because I’m now concentrating on the Bunyip Beads pages – it’s still me writing the posts, just in a slightly different location. We hope to rebrand the entire shop at some point, as our craft offering is becoming more and more diverse and it would be great to have a name to reflect this. But all in good time – the next year should be really, really exciting for Mattie and I, and the other badass Bunyip ladies.
In summary, keep coming in to see us in the next few weeks and months, because we have loads of exciting things to buy and share with you, and new awesome workshops to get you involved in too. Stay in touch on the Bunyip social media – facebook, twitter, instagram as linked.
If you’ve made it to the end of this, I salute you. Thank you for reading! And for being our customers and friends – I hope this is all as exciting for you as it is for me.