Like pretty much everyone at this time of the year I am thinking about summer time, and more specifically I am thinking about our wonderful family holiday last year. The picture above was taken in our little wood cabin in Dundreggan, Scotland one morning at the end of August. For me this photo sums up our week perfectly – happy children bathed in light and about to start a day of exploring castles and forests. These lovely little creatures are the reason why my Man and I work so hard and why we are fiercely determined to make our Scottish Dream come true.
In November 2013 I started running small art markets in Chorlton, Manchester and by the following year, through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I opened up a proper bricks-and-mortar shop , The Chorlton Art Market & Autumn’s Vintage Boutique. It was always a goal to have my own shop and I was proud that I made it happen from literally nothing, and was so happy when my partner, Jay, gave up his job to join me in making the shop happen. I have a separate blog which charts the ups and downs of running an independent shop on the high street – https://chorltonartmarket.wordpress.com/, but in a nutshell, despite our shop being freakin’ awesome, the stress involved in making it a viable success is pretty much killing me.
Its not all bad though – the great bonus of our shop is that it benefits over 50 local people who all sell their work with us. Our business model is quite unique which means that our artists have the potential to make more money that they would do compared to a ‘normal’ shop or gallery. We are incredibly proud of this fact and proud that so many amazing local artists and craftspeople have put their faith in us.
But…rent and business rates are calculated with large chain stores, not independent businesses in mind and this makes it so incredibly hard to create a financially viable long-term business. In order to keep things going, we have to compromise a lot and forgo things and services that we really need, which means that most of the work is down to Jay and myself and a small handful of traders who kindly volunteer their time to support us. There is only so long that anyone can handle a life where there is never a day off and when you are stressed out all of the time. This is not the kind of life that either of us want.
All these reasons are what led us to the decision to relocate our lives and create a simpler way of life. If Manchester City Council offered reduced business rates for independent or start-up businesses so that we were able to build up a long-term viable business (which didn’t involve us working ourselves into an early grave), then its highly likely we wouldn’t be making plans to leave. I’m just tired of working so hard to support the local economy, only for most of profits to be going back to the council. It should never of been as hard as it was to make a shop like ours happen and I only hope that one day the whole system is overhauled to give future dreamers more of a chance.
Anyway, we’ve accepted that Chorlton is not where we are destined to be and we are fine with that. Our efforts will continue to be focused on making our beautiful shop better and better all time right until the end, but at the same time we will be laying the foundations of our new Scottish life. As I’ve hinted before, I’ll soon be unveiling a bold and daring plan which will undoubtedly attract a lot of mixed reactions. By June I’ll also hopefully be able to reveal another rather exciting piece of news involving our escape to the country.