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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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Bunyip Craft, an update: week 1

It’s been a week since I sat down to share the news that Bunyip Craft was on the move. It’s been an incredible rollercoaster of a week, with tears and smiles, cake and support from all over the world and lovely, lovely comments and suggestions. I’ve had a piece on Devon Live and been on Radio Exe. I feel held together by the care, compassion and belief of so many people; friends, customers, family and people I’ve never met. Sometimes all your hard work is repaid in kindness.

The strong possibility that we’re not going to find a retail space to move into is slowly dawning, I was hoping something would instantly jump out of the bag, but it hasn’t happened so far. Please keep spreading the word for us.

Really genuinely lovely people have offered to share space with us, with so many different concepts that my business brain has been spinning. I’ve been offered workshop space, party space, a couple of bespoke jewellery range possibilities, those DIY craft pub nights are most definitely going to happen, I’m not the first person to think of the shared makers space and have some of the bigger influences of the arts community on my side.

I’ve been out and about: looking at trading estate office spaces, community spaces, searching about in Topsham, out of the way city shops, city centre offices and more. I have a list of the possible spaces, with pros and cons on each, none are exactly right, though some are very close. I’ve come to a few more realisations; I need to be in cycling distance of my kids school, the main change for us as a family, is that my husband is going to be working full time, so I need to be able to do school pick up and don’t want to get in the car everyday. If we do take on office space, while we wait for a retail opportunity to come our way, then it’s going to be much easier if it’s on the University side of town. I need to be able to store all my stock, paperwork and shopfit, so the office space can’t be tiny. I want to carry on doing parties and workshops, whether out of the office space or from some of the other spaces I’ve been offered, I’d like to be able to do ‘open days’ from any space we take so that customers can still come and see us and the stock before they buy.

I’m petrified of not having the day to day footfall and spend of customers. I really want to hold on to my wonderful staff, and will need to pay for any space we take on, so will need to carry on taking a decent sum each week. Can I do that from only my online sales?, will anyone want to take my crafty kits and jewellery wholesale? Can I have some time off before I start the next adventure, to get my head together and allow some creative freedom? It’s beginning to look like I need the cheapest yet biggest office space I can afford, which isn’t much to ask…

Meanwhile, Bunyip is still running as brilliantly as ever, the Sale has started on lots of end of lines so come in and grab them while stocks last, I will keep on adding more as time goes on. I’ll keep you updated on any further developments in the land of Bunyip Craft.

Enjoy the sunshine, we are!

 

 

 

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What happens next?

I like to think I am an endlessly positive person, especially where Bunyip is concerned, but this is a tough one to write and has been a tough decision. I’ve come out of the other side of the shame and failure, and am trying really hard to see change as good.

Bunyip Craft is on the move once again. The costs in our big, beautiful shop have become too onerous, despite cutting every cost to the bone, lowering staffing hours and working in the shop as much as I can. Business Rates have gone up twice since I’ve been here, and in the last re-evaluation the percentage discount the shop used to get for being landscape shaped rather than portrait shaped was taken away too, so my rates are almost entirely made up of retail zone A, ouch! Being over the VAT threshold doesn’t help either, with VAT at 20% many businesses struggle at this point of their growth.

My lease is up on 1st October and I just couldn’t afford to re-sign it. This is not because we’re not a successful business, we have a good take through the till, and online, but the costs are too high to be able to make the maths work and customer spend is going down. Our footfall is steady, as is our number of sales, but sales are getting smaller as customers feel the pinch and worry about their own incomes, Brexit and the world economy.

So, the upshot is, we are looking for a new premises, something more affordable, smaller certainly, but nothing right has presented itself yet. We would love to have a place with an office and workshop space, so that we can carry on with our parties and teaching, as well as the shop. We don’t mind where it is really, we hope we have the customer loyalty and brand recognition to take being off the main drag. If you know of anywhere, please get in touch, all offers considered!

This might be a chance to change the way I run the business, I’ve been running Bunyip for over 15 years now, and with 2 kids and a husband who can work more hours if I give him the time, life has changed a lot in that time.  I have loads of ideas I’d like to work on, I’d like to wholesale my jewellery making and sewing kits, along with making jewellery for other shops, I’d like to do more shows and craft fairs, I’d like to have time to spend on my website, Etsy shop and blog, I want to run DIY craft pub nights, I want to host Pop ups all over the place, I want to teach more, I want to have the flexibility to be able to run with an idea or offer that comes my way. I can’t do any of this at the moment because I have to be on the shop floor to sell a 40p metre of elastic or 6 buttons. I’m grateful for every person who’s bought that 40p metre, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have survived without you, but this might be time that I get to put my entrepreneurial and creative hats back on.

Retail is an ever fluid market, and the times, they are a changing. I think the future of retail may be in shared spaces, people working together to have the presence and knowledge each business needs to survive. I would love to be part of something like that in Exeter, and be as present in the fight for supporting Independent business in Exeter as I’ve ever been.

Please get in touch if you have any ideas, spaces for rent, wholesale opportunities or just want a chat, I’d love to hear from you on mattie@bunyipcraft.com or in the shop… for a while longer!