So here we are…December 2020, almost at the start of a new year, hopefully the start of new and positive things to come. We have all been affected in many ways, some more than others by the events of the last 10 months.
One huge victim of the Pandemic has been our icons of the High Street. This year we have said goodbye for good to many retail rocks, changing the shape of our High Streets forever, and lots more found themselves in administration or now only trading online. Monsoon, Jaeger, Arcadia Group, Debenhams, Victoria’s Secret, Oasis, Warehouse, Laura Ashley and Cath Kidston to name just a few.
At this time of year we are being more creative at home, with most concentrating on making decorations and others using the time to revamp our homes in preparation for the year ahead.
In this weeks Blog I am focusing on our retail sector and where we can show support. Once you’ve had a read, pop over to Claire Parkin where she will be sharing some fabulous home crafting ideas and lots more information.
Our shopping habits have needed to adapt in recent times, and shopping online has now taken over, but do we really all feel content with these changes? The experiences of browsing, finding inspiration, mingling with others and trying on several outfits to find that look you’re after are all very different. Shopping for homeware online is also not the same now either! The smell of candles and running your hand over different textures, seeing the colour of fabrics, throws and bedding in the flesh just cannot be replicated in an online world.
I live in Kent and a mainstay throughout the year are our Interiors and Makers Fairs that thousands flock to. This year, not needing to be prepared for the crowds with your best (or worst!) parking skills, while wearing wellies and rain macs has been really missed. The star of the show for eventing is the fabulous Wealden Fair! But both the Midsummer and Midwinter Fairs this year had to be cancelled and replaced with virtual events. The absence of the Midsummer and Midwinter Fairs this year has been a real blow, not only for the organisers The Wealden Times, but also their amazing exhibitors and us as customers.
For those who don’t know, The Wealden Times is a renowned lifestyle magazine for the South East. Its published monthly and is a refreshing window into beautiful homes and interiors, including interviews with their owners sharing their stories. It also shares insights into horticulture, food, recipes to die for, health matters and fashion.
Its pages are always valuable, colourful and full of inspiration.
The Midsummer and Midwinter fairs are held in beautifully laid out Marquees, and are a treasure trove to customers looking for those unique home, beauty, fashion and especially food buys. I’ve lost count of the number of cheeses and chutneys I’ve brought home, and also the knives to cut them with! Not to mention the complimenting wines that are usually on offer.
One thing I have always loved about the fairs is not just the smell of all the handmade candles and soaps as you’re walking around but the atmosphere that’s created by the amazing support given to its small business exhibitors.
These businesses really have to work hard to continue to produce their products from arts and crafts to vintage homewares, quality handmade clothes and bespoke home items and furnishings in a huge variety of materials and colours, one of my particular favourites being hand dyed fur rugs.
The fair really does provide everything in one event, I’d like especially mention the insightful workshops, for example at the Midwinter Fair in 2019, Annie Sloan, with her range of Chalk Paints gave a fantastic Top Tips guide, and showcased some incredible furniture examples.
As a regular attendee, there are two small businesses in particular that I’d like to show support to.
Millie and Rose Designs and Rising Star
These small business started years back with a great idea and a lot of ambition. Both are successful but have felt the effects of this year too.
Millie and Rose Designs
Owner Ellie is based in Hadlow, Kent and prides herself on her work ethic and puts real value on having sustainable and ethical home and lifestyle products. In Ellies business, everything is ‘inspired by nature’ and her handmade, bespoke homewares, gifts and toys are just incredible. Each is unique, not mass produced and the quality is outstanding. Millie and Rose Designs also offer furniture recycling and up-cycling, as well as organic home decor. Here are some examples:
“By keeping every element of our business ethical, we can ensure happiness from artisans to customers!”
Owner Tara runs this beautiful treasure trove of vintage and eclectic homewares. Its found in Tenterden High Street, Kent.
Tara is a very early riser, and often be found in vintage markets across Europe from unheard of hours in the morning. I’ve personally seen her on one occasion, at Kempton Market, with her van full, her supportive husband and fabulous taxidermy fox sitting in her dashboard. I remember this day well as somehow I managed to bag a stunning pink feather Juju from her! (To this day it has pride of place in my Living Room)
I saw it when I first arrived but was told that it had sold hours earlier. Out of hundreds of people, I just knew who had bought it and with one phone call I found out I was right. Tara and I have laughed about this for a long time.
Rising Stars shop in Tenterden and it stand at exhibitions are always heaving. Her customers just can’t wait to see the unique items she has brought to share, with most selling straight away, so you have to be quick. This includes her 2019 show, vintage Black Taxidermy Swan that so many swooned over!
I really can’t recommend enough that you pop along if you’re in the area.
There are so many businesses out there that need our support to keep going. Let these be your first thought when it comes to finding inspiration, shopping sustainably and being creative at home.
Visit the Wealden Times online where they share a list of their Fair exhibitors. You will without doubt find what you are looking for, and perhaps some goodies that you weren’t!
It is with huge thanks to the Wealden Times for creating the events that showcase all these small businesses together for us. We really do look forward to ‘the new normal’ being as normal as possible, so that we can all be back together again to show support for such events.
I’d like to say thanks for your support with our blogging series, we will see you for the next exciting episode in January 2021.
So pop over now to Claire Parkin where Claire continues with her home crafting specials and ideas for us all in the blog continued for this week.