I love the Crimbo Limbo period, it’s a time for family and the one time of year that I truly slow down and reflect. As another year draws to a close, I start to get nostalgic. I love the idea of writing a diary, but can never quite stick to it, however, I do usually manage to jot a few things down at the end of the year and I love to look back at what the past year has brought. This time last year we were just moving into our new house (which was still a building site with no carpets) and I had just survived my first proper Christmas as a retailer from which I learned a lot.
I set myself the target in 2017 to make LITTLE BEAU SHEEP a viable alternative to a part-time job that would give me the flexibility to work around my two young daughters. The start of the year was spent hatching my plan and applying for shows and events for the year ahead. Here’s a look back at how it went…
The rise of Kitchen Table Talent
Spring got off to a great start with Mother’s Day. My Bodycare gift set proved extremely popular as a treat for Mum and this prompted me to redesign the gift sets in neatly presented boxes (much easier to wrap!). Sheep soaps also became available to buy at Floral Dance in Ben Rhydding, my first stockist!
Another exciting moment was winning Country Living Magazine’s Kitchen Table Talent competition and the opportunity to exhibit in the pop-up market at the Spring Fair at Alexandra Palace, London. Not only was this a great boost, but also spread the word about my sheep outside Yorkshire. I was also very proud to support the Ilkley Candelighers Annual ball – supplying felted soap sheep for all the ladies at the Rudding Park event – I’m only sorry I could not make it along myself!
Girl power meets sheep
The summer saw the launch of Girl Tribe Gang in Ilkley, which I joined straight away. It’s a collective for women who work for themselves, to empower and inspire each other in a relaxed and informal way. This has provided invaluable support and has resulted in some exciting collaborations. Sheep soaps also became available to purchase at The Little Tea House in Ilkley.
The summer shows also kept me busy starting with Sheep Day! What fun! Only in England would you find a festival devoted to sheep complete with sheep races and Morris dancers! Voted one of Britain’s weirdest festivals by The Telegraph. And, of course, I was delighted to be accepted to The Great Yorkshire Show. It was a fantastic event, I met lots of great people (and sheep) and I am happy to announce that I will be going back for their 160th year next July!
Lanolin and sheep take over
LITTLE BEAU SHEEP was invited to dress the community window at Shoo Social Media in Ben Rhydding during September, so the sheep took up residency for the month. It was great to see the reactions of people as they walked past the window. I also really enjoyed the Harrogate Flower Show, who knew the lanolin hand and body lotion would be so popular with gardeners? (It sounds so obvious when you write it down!) I had a house full of gorgeous flowers afterward too. My products are now available a bit further afield at Albion Farm Shop, Saddleworth and O’Donoghues Bakery, County Mayo.
Well, I am pleased to say that, with the support of my flock, I have achieved the target I set myself for 2017. I probably ended up working harder than I would’ve in a part-time job but it has allowed me to work in a way that suits our family. #WorkThatWorks is so important. Finding the right support is also vital when you spend a long time working on your own. I am very glad to be part of Girl Tribe Gang and I will also be taking part in the 100-day goal again from 1 Jan to keep me on target. I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who has been part of the journey this year, I wouldn’t be here without you.
So what will 2018 bring? I will be on the lookout for new stockists this year so if you are interested, or can think of anywhere where my sheep would fit right in, then please email me. I am also looking to work with local smallholders to create a range of dryer balls from individual flocks from around the UK, so if you would like to see your sheep immortalised as a dryer ball please do get in touch.
I am going to make this year the year of laundry and celebrating British sheep and wool.
Wishing you a very happy New Year