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What would I do without you?

It’s been 2 weeks since Bunyip had its light fingered visitor, and that awful feeling that I’d really messed it up this time washed over me and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

So much has happened since, so many emotions, and November has run away and it’ll soon be Christmas and life isn’t going to let up so I thought it best to get something written now to catch you all up on the story.

Firstly I still feel a bit stupid about the whole thing. I know I should have been more careful but a working woman needs coffee. It feels wrong that I let my guard down for 1 minute, switched off, get distracted in the middle of a task and I’m punished for it. I still feel like having a trantrum and stamping my feet and shouting IT’S NOT FAIR at the top of my lungs. Most of you are aware of the journey Bunyip has had over the last 12 months or so. It’s not been easy, but of course you just keep your chin up, smile and keep going.

I didn’t really want to publicise what happened but I also didn’t want people to hear through the rumour mill  or wonder why I was in such a state and I think I made the right decision.

The whole social media sharing thing isn’t natural for me but I am so glad I let people know. It was a real eye-opener that people actually want to know what you’re going through, and I feel blessed by the reaction of my friends, customers, fellow traders, the City, the retail community and the wider crafting community. I’ve cried tears of frustration, joy, gratitude and relief. I’ve cried for no reason what-so-ever. I’ve been spending evenings reading through all your kind words, and incredible generosity. I’ve had cake, craft courses, earrings and vegetables thrust into my hands with such conviction I had no choice to accept – which is harder than you think! I’ve had people visiting the shop everyday and its been wonderful to see you all. I’ve had the 2 best weeks in this shop and on the website. It’s completely blown me away.

The Police have CCTV of the culprit entering and leaving the shop, but have been unable to find the cash box having followed his path after he left here, I’m waiting to hear if they have an clear shots of his face so we can try to identify him. The insurance claim is in and I’m crossing my fingers that they will accept my claim.

Your reaction has galvanised me to carry on and look forward with renewed hope for next year and the years after that. I’ve always seen Bunyip as a family business. Not just my family (although look out for Esme’s Scrunchy Business coming soon!) but the wider Exeter and Devon community of people who just love to make.

So THANK YOU, thank you thank you for your likes, your shares, your purchases, your hugs, your veg, your shoulders to cry on, your lovely comments, your wave of messages, your bags full of orders, and your love.

Mattie xx

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Exeter Cultural Partnership: Mattie’s Speech

Mattie was recently asked to give a talk at the Exeter Cultural Partnership conference in Exeter Cathedral, an event exploring the City’s cultural offering and the issues surrounding it. We thought we’d share with you her speech here, a very honest account of her personal experience of running an indie business for the last 14 years. Enjoy!

Partnerships for Enterprise: My Experience

One of the hardest things about running an independent business is when the customer that comes into your beautifully curated shop complains that you’re not on the High Street (let alone that they’ve had to walk up a hill or encountered a wobbly pavement) as they do to get to the wonderful independent traders of Fore Street.

I always want to say to them that the businesses that aren’t on the High Street are the ones worth stumbling over a pavement for (this isn’t to say that I’m not obsessed with the getting the pavements of Fore Street mended). We’re the businesses that keep corners, old buildings and back streets of cities thriving. We’re the reason that the city centre is bustling. Independent businesses bring something to the city that it has chosen to trade in, that no other city has. We bring jobs for local people, are here for the people of the city 9-5, 6 or 7 days of the week and are often the first to highlight any problems within the community.

For me, this is why Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is so important to Exeter – it’s also very similar to the role Culture plays in the city. The unique mix of business, culture, heritage, sport and education is what makes this city what it is, and keeps it developing and thriving.

I believe that in the Life of a City, every sector has its responsibilities and part to play in bringing all the pieces together. I want to live and work in a thriving, strong, exciting city, and I believe Exeter is well on its way to fulfilling its potential.

It can be hard for business to understand that everything else that goes on in the city centre has an impact on their sales and footfall. When you’re running a business, often alone with few staff, feeling like you have no support and cash flow nightmares, it’s very easy to put your head down and work your hardest on what you’re passionate about. I really believe that we, the independent business community, all need to look up. (We also need lower business rates, better city wide street signage and more support, but that’s a different talk!)

My teenage years where spent in a city that knows how to celebrate its indies, I often use the example of Brighton to show people where my passion comes from, it can be done! When you think of Brighton, do you think of the massive shopping centre, do you even know the name? Or do you think of the Lanes, and probably the Pier! Brighton celebrates its differences and diversity to give it its unique selling point. It’s a great example for Exeter.

My experience of enterprise and culture in Exeter is that we haven’t managed that much collaboration. Whether that’s because of the time constraints from both the business and culture perspectives, or the lack of money to make ideas actually happen. I really hope and believe that through work with Exeter’s BID we can start making ideas come to life, because we have a team with the resources to be able to make things happen, who are business focused but understand that a vibrant cultural life in the city will aid footfall, customer retention and hopefully spend!

I really hoped that the Exeter Trails project would lead to the independent businesses of Exeter having a singular, strong voice with which to communicate with the rest of the city. But the work it takes to keep 100 businesses involved, happy and attentive has proved too much without a dedicated, full-time team.

It can be very frustrating watching all the exciting events in Exeter happen up in Bedford Square, even ones that would be much better suited to being in an indie area of the city. There are, obviously, exceptions, the very wonderful Animated Exeter show on the buildings on Fore Street was woefully attended but was one of the best things I’ve seen in the city. We are lucky enough to have the Bike Shed Theatre at the top of Fore Street, a brilliant example of using a building inventively, and giving Fore Street a much better night time reputation. The amazing reaction to the loss of the West Gate Mural at the bottom of New Bridge Street shows how much the community values its artworks, and we’re trying to work our way towards having a mural in that position again.

My question to you is what is the way forward for collaboration between business and culture? One that gives us all the outcome that we need to carry on performing, creating and developing our businesses, ideas and city.

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Be Our Valentine

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Valentine’s Day

It’s finally getting too near to deny it anymore. This Sunday. It’s happening. We’re not overly keen on the celebrations here at Bunyip, since we’re all working or away entertaining the extended family, so we’ve put together a collection of wonderful things you can make for yourself, or a loved one, or your cat. We’re not here to judge.

Wooden Heart Hanger

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For the minimal effort enthusiasts – we sell these awesome cut out wooden hearts in loads of beautiful bright colours. String one on a pretty piece of thread and hang in the window for instant prettiness.

Button Hearts

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One of our favourite things to make ever, button hearts are easily whipped up out of your button stash. You need some craft wire (we go for 0.6mm silver plated, grab some here) and lots of pretty buttons of a similar size. Lay them out first so you know what you’re doing, and then cut yourself a nice long piece of wire – exactly how long depends on the size of your heart. Start by threading on your button that’s right at the bottom of your heart onto the middle of the wire, and then thread your others on evenly to either side, shaping nicely at the top into an attractive heart shape. Once your buttons are meeting at the top, twist the two ends together, snip off any excess and tie on a nice piece of clear nylon or thin ribbon.

Felt Hearts

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What better way to fill those lonely hours than cutting out loads of felt hearts, popping them all through a sewing machine and making yourself some lush felty garlands? Pro tip: make these in black and grey to curb your romance induced nausea.

Heart Charms – Earrings

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For instant jewellery making gratification there’s always earring making too. We have lots love and heart based things you could pop straight on an earring hook – just use a flat nosed plier to open the loop at the bottom of the earring hook, pop your charm of choice on, and close it! Note: we also have charms with skulls on. Just saying.

Beaded Hearts

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Not enough heart shaped wire fun for you? These beaded hearts are so sweet – a bit more complicated to make, but luckily we’ve whipped them up in lots of lovely colours already so you can just grab them straight from us. You’re our valentine really, lucky thing!

Heart Charms

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Another fun and easy jewellery make is just to pop one of these amazing charms on to a matching chain or sturdy piece of cord – then keep it for yourself. You’re the best.

There you have it, a whole host of things you could do this Sunday that don’t involve going outside or even opening the curtains. Add a large glass of wine and you’re kind of having the best day ever – win!

(P.S – we do have some secret actual Valentine’s cards to buy in the shop too – just don’t tell anyone.)

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New Kit: Pretty Jewellery Set

Introducing our newest jewellery making kit: the Pretty Jewellery Set!

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This necklace & bracelet kit has been designed to fill the gap between our classic Kids Necklace/Bracelet Kits and our other range of making kits. For the age range who love to string beads and are capable of working with a slightly thinner thread and smaller bead size combination, Mattie had her almost 6 year old little girl in mind.

PrettyJewellerySet

The kit is made up from a (obviously!) pretty selection of shiny 6mm plastic beads in either clear, pink or blue, and a beautiful rainbow selection of our crystal butterflies & shapes. These have already been attached to bails so no fiddly plier work, and you’ve got a sturdy cotton thread to string these on. Finished off with a chunky screw clasp to tie on so you can make it to any length you like and enough elastic to whip up a matching bracelet – we’re so pleased with this one!

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Our kits come with full instructions to follow and so make an ideal gift for the budding jewellery making enthusiastic – no extra beads or tools are required, you get absolutely everything you need all packaged up beautifully.

You can grab one of these kits here. The difficult part is choosing which colour to start with…

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Exeter Trails

We can hardly believe Exeter Trails will be 3 years old this year! If you’re still not up to date with exactly what Exeter Trails is, here’s a brief overview.

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Exeter Trails was a project launched in July 2013, and centres around 5 maps which depict over 100 independent businesses from the local area. The project was spearheaded by Bunyip’s Mattie, alongside traders and indie shopping enthusiasts from Cafe@36, The Real Food Store, Penny’s Recipes and No Guts No Glory. The maps cover 5 categories: Creativity, Food Glorious Food, Cafe Culture, Activities & Hobbies and Bygones & Boutiques.

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The purpose of trails is obvious: getting as many people as possible to see the amazing array of shopping that Exeter has to offer if you step off the high street. Colourful cafes and beautiful boutiques are in abundance here – you just need to have the tools to find them. Walking through Exeter City Centre can sometimes feel like walking through any other town centre, but what sets us apart from everyone else are the home grown start ups, the local people selling what they love and the hidden gems down the back streets. The trails team believed (and still do!) that if only customers could find these shops, they’d love them.

The success of trails has been wonderful to see, and in the 3 years since then the maps have been updated and reprinted, and gone through an online revamp to a shiny new website. You can still grab the physical maps, with artwork designed by awesome local artist Philip Harris (check out more of his illustrations here) from all over the City – in the independent shops themselves, as well as in the Tourist Information Centre and Exeter Library.

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You can also download all 5 maps from the website, and browse through all of the independent businesses featured. If you own an indie business locally, make sure that your page is up to date! You can claim your business and in turn edit your page, make it as beautiful as possible and even upload events and news. If you’re not sure how to do this, pop an email over to helloexetertrails@gmail.com. Let’s utilise this wonderful project, and fingers crossed for even more people finding all of Exeter’s fantastic independent offerings in the future.

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Our Newest Make – Multi Wear Jewellery

One of Mattie’s great strifes in life is the creation of jewellery you can wear more than one way. In our blog about bead weaving, one of the pieces mentioned was our extra long wrap around bracelet, that’s also long enough to be worn as one long necklace or as a double choker. There’s something so special about owning a piece of jewellery that you love, and being able to work it in a multitude of ways. It’s value for money, it keeps the piece interesting and it’s outrageously versatile.

So, drum roll, enter the newest Bunyip creation. A mix of resin, wood, glass and metal beads & charms, all linked together using wire and (very neat) wrapped loops. The beads are joined together by a length of chain at the back, making the whole necklace approx 90cm long. So far Mattie’s come up with two colour ways – choosing a favourite is the hard part.

The first way you can wear this piece is exactly like this – as one, lovely long chain necklace. And we continue….

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Here’s the clever part. The chain at the back is attached with two lobster clasps, rather than normal jump rings. This means you can simply unclip the chain, and wear the beads as a shorter 18” necklace. Sweet! So you can just change it according to whether you’re going through a long necklace or a short necklace phase, which for me changes weekly. Unclipping the chain from the back also leaves you with a plain chain necklace to wear, which brings us up to 3 variations of wear so far.

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