Opening an actual store after two years of popping up was a very exciting step. No longer would we have to frantically pack up from strong winds or rains. No longer would we have to climb up sand dunes for 3G to make a sale, and no longer would we be homeless. The Salcombe shop, a small 300 square foot boat store, would become our first home. A home for the brand and more importantly home for us; a home which today remains unchanged.
There were obvious challenges to begin with; we needed to build a shop fit with nearly no money. As usual, Mark gave me a small budget, and a short deadline. With one week, and less than a thousand pounds, we got to work. I’d had the idea of using scaffolding to create rails in my head for some time; it was original, it was rustic, and most importantly it was cheap! Mark loved this idea. We managed to blag some scaffolding from some guys on the side of the road under the conditions we didn’t tell anyone. After some careful due diligence, it seemed like a no brainer, they even cut it to length for us. A very happy welcome to the local area (If anyone undergoing refurbishment in Salcombe during February of 2015 experienced unusually high scaffolding costs then thank you, and sorry). With the help of a local carpenter we managed to get things up pretty quickly and all was on schedule for the big opening.
All we needed after that was more stock, which we were more than happy to be purchasing having spent the previous two years saving. Very quickly, however, the accounts went back into the red and we learnt a hard lesson in cashflow. Money out, but not much money back in. Of course there wasn’t, it was February. Mentally the first few months were tough. We were establishing our lives in a new place, working every day, and barely getting paid. It was lonely, it was cold (boathouses don’t have much heating) and it was largely unfruitful. Thank god for the ocean, the views, and most importantly the people of Salcombe. We feel very fortunate to have a few close friends who welcomed us into the community with open arms. Without them, we would have probably packed it in. We love you all.
Just when we were nearly at rock bottom financially we bought a boat. That’s when the fun started. We sometimes closed early if the tides were good and pootled up the river to the Milbrook, our favourite pub, followed by a full shake down at Island street Bar and Grill. Forget the 4 P’s from your marketing manual, Jam life was about the 4 B’s; Brothers, Best mates, Beers and Boats. It was a dream come true. Until we sunk the boat.
By Easter we were settling in, with an amazing group of friends and a shop full of stock, it was time for action. Fortunately for us, the sun came out, and the shoppers came with it. Jam was starting to tick, we served cold beers to all our customers, chatted to them endlessly and continued to paint an ever-clearer picture of both them and us. A brand that bridges the gaps between city and surf style. Our brand had found its heartbeat, and it was beating fast. We rolled frantically from Easter into summer, wriggling through all sorts of crisis; no stock, too much stock, wrong stock! We’d spent a few years learning to walk, but all of a sudden, we were on an athletics track. We had no choice but to run.
Through the summer we decided to take on some extra help, which allowed us the odd day off. We gave our younger brother, Oliver, a holiday job and he moved into the bottom bunk (I was on the top). Family values remained at the heart of everything we were doing, and it was amazing to have Oliver on board. Looking back, it was that summer which drove us to develop some company values, essential for our growth. The first was family. Family will always be at the heart of what we do, and today if you are part of the ‘jamily’, you are considered family. We are working with our team where possible to build their aspirations into our company journey, and as a result, our dream is growing. As if it wasn’t big enough to begin with.
In summary, it was a pretty nuts time for Jam. We had a home. We had a boat. We sunk a boat. We were starting to actually sell some clothes, and most importantly we had a ton of fun. In sailing they say, if the winds blowing, then put the bloody sails up! And that’s what we did….
Next week: Shop 2, Padstow. It never rains it pours….