At the end of the summer season Mark and I made a trip to Padstow on the hunt for a second shop. I guess the rumour went around that we were looking, and before we knew it the phone started ringing. There was a unit available on the harbour. Mum and I returned to Padstow immediately, and made the decision to take on the lease almost a split second after entering the building. Shop number 2 was in a prime location overlooking the harbour - a Jam store with sea views and we were delighted! We knew the location of this store was paramount to our growth, and we were excited to go again.
That’s when it started to rain. It didn’t just rain, it poured. We were flooded with new challenges. …. and terrible weather to top it off.
Firstly, we had already committed ourselves to a 45 day stint of popping up (Christmas fairs) during November and December so we knew the Padstow store would remain closed until February… there was only two of us - two stores and a lot of pop ups pre booked (vital for our winter cashflow).
5 months without trading and paying rent is not ideal for any small business. With this in mind I left Mark for Padstow, with a toolbox some paint, and got to work. The location was great, but the shop was far from pretty! If we could open the store before October half term, we would gain one week’s revenue to contribute towards the impending winter drought. It was brutal. 16-hour days labouring to re-create what we had in Salcombe, only better. In my head, I knew what the shop was going to look like before we got there, and I was lucky enough to gain the support of Mum and our good friend Graeme Lennox mid-way through the build. Without them we wouldn’t have finished in time and would have missed out on essential half term trade. Every sale mattered; even an extra £20 revenue counted towards keeping us alive through the winter. Not finishing in time was not really an option.
Mark had to stay in Salcombe during this period, which was tough in itself. He worked every day in the shop, which had now gone quiet again following the summer rush. For the first time, probably ever, Mark and I were apart. A new challenge. Ever since we were toddlers, we have done everything together, and probably without realising it back then we were already acting as a double act; the left and right side of each other’s brains. At university we lived next door to each other. We independently developed the same early morning routine before the rest of the students were awake, and one day bumped into each other in the loos of the same coffee shop at 7am. From then on it was coffee together as well. Over the past 3 years since starting Jam we had developed an interdependent working relationship, and again without realising, we did things for each other that often went unnoticed. Being apart, for the first time, was a bit like walking around with a broken leg. Both of us facing a bigger task than ever, without one leg. There was no doubt that we felt weaker once separated. We were tired, stressed, and having to think in ways we’d never thought before. But we did it. We spoke every couple of hours on the phone, checking in on each other. We got Padstow open, and we kept Salcombe trading on a high. We learnt how to be apart and together at the same time. An essential tool for our journey.
Fortunately, the half term in Padstow went very well, and we managed to squirrel away some pennies to contribute towards the drought. We hit the road for the pop-up season, reunited with a new confidence in the partnership we’ve spent a lifetime creating. The numerous back to back pop ups went well and the long hard stint up to Christmas was complete. We were dead on our knees, but we had hit our targets. It felt like we had survived a 90-day storm. We went into the Christmas holidays relaxed and ready for a well-earned rest. We had overcome several hurdles, dodged a few collapsing walls (literally), and continued our journey towards the dream. Having stepped up our game, we were entering 2017 on the charge.
Next week: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger: Supply chain