Lily Loves Shopping first birthday shop party balloons

Can you actually believe it? Our shop turned one on Saturday 14th October, and what a year its been!

A year ago I was seven months pregnant and just changing over my business from a part-time hobby, to a full-time bona fide business. Which looking at it is quite insane (as most people told me at the time!). However I knew I just HAD to do this, or I might actually explode; my thinking was I might as well do it now or I wouldn’t have time for the next year at least (and now Archie is here I think five years would have been much more likely, at the very least!). But I felt good, wasn’t tired (I am now!), and wanted to do this for our family and for our future, so on we went.

After looking at several unsuitable properties, fate threw us a bone and my awesome boss at my then job put me in touch with the loveliest landlord ever, who happened to have a small little shop to rent right next door to Starbucks, errrrr, hello! The rent was in our budget, it was a lovely double-fronted building with big glass windows, didn’t need too much renovation, and was on a good street in the centre of town, with coffee on tap next door, winner winner chicken dinner.

So once all the legal shizz was sorted (blimey, they can take their time hey?), we cracked on with making it a home for LLS, which was super exciting after YEARS of dreaming, and months of actual planning, I had every last detail planned out and my awesome brother-in-law made it look better than I imagined.

We had a soft launch on the Friday last year, and I suddenly went from super excitement to a stressy bag of nerves. What if this failed? What if Harborough wasn’t ready for us, what if no-one understood what we were about and we had to close? I would have been devastated, and bankrupt. I honestly felt like running away and crying in a corner somewhere, the pressure of it all seemed overwhelming. But with my super lovely mum and sister in tow, they somehow made me see sense, so we had a quiet little open afternoon on the Friday to get used to the till in real life and get the nerves out of the way. Looking back this was definitely the best thing to do, and we even sold some things too!

 

 

Come the Saturday morning the nerves were back, all those doubts and fears creeping back big time. I put the heater on to warm the shop up, it blew one of our new light fittings off its hook and it smashed into the wall, shattered glass everywhere. And that was before we even opened, not the greatest of starts and my beautiful new lighting that I loved was now all odd-looking with one bare bulb! But I then thought maybe it was like smashing a champagne bottle against a ship, and maybe it was actually good luck?! Right? Errr, maybe. Poor Lee was the subject of my nervous stress for daring to question whether we really needed ice for the Prosecco, he’s very brave!! But I didn’t actually kill him and we set about getting ready for the day ahead.

 

And then we were open, officially! Eeekk! And had such an amazing day! It was rammed, the shop packed with family, friends, and lovely customers old and new; the feedback was amazing, we had such wonderful comments about the shop and people REALLY laughing at our cards and mugs, which always makes my day. We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better start, I was so thrilled.

 So what has the rest of the year brought us? Archie for a start! I worked up until the last second, with my waters breaking the minute I got home one evening, no such thing as resting when you own your own business! He arrived right on his due date and is the best Christmas present I could ever have wished for, he gets more and more awesome by the day. I was so, so lucky to have an amazing team who looked after my shop so perfectly for me whilst I was off on maternity-ish leave, they looked after it as if it was their own, put up with my disorganisation at trying to run a new business whilst being a new mum, but mostly cared for our customers in a way I could only dream of, it was lovely to see.


I came back to work in July, the transition between doing the best thing for the business and for Archie was a lot tougher than I thought it would be, there’s a perma-guilt about not doing the best by either! But I think that’s normal (right?), and Archie has now settled so well into nursery which has done him the world of good, so we’re muddling through as best we can.

 

The time back has passed in a blur, and I literally can’t believe we’ve celebrated our first birthday already, its madness just how quickly its gone! There have been some real highs through the year (opening day, late night shopping, the whole of December!), and some crushing lows; running your own business is HARD, really hard, the reality behind a retail business in particular is nothing like people imagine. *But* we’ve survived our first year, learnt a lot about so many different things, and have big plans for the future. Its time to really knuckle down and put everything in place to ensure we survive, and hopefully even thrive, I really hope so. One of the biggest things I’ve been overwhelmed with over this last year that really stands out though is the support from the other independent shops, I’ve grown up in Harborough and know its a pretty friendly place, but the other shop owners have been SO lovely, with some becoming what feels like genuine work friends, who you can go for a coffee with and off-load about how hard it can be and how hard we’re working! I genuinely think I’m so lucky to have this support, it really feels like we’re part of the community, and this is really gushy and heart-warming in a non-cheesy way! We don’t do cheese here.

 

 

So here are a few pictures from then to now, finishing with our party to celebrate being one, lets hope we celebrate many, many more to come. Watch this space for all our exciting plans to come! World domination is only a sniff away, I’m sure of it. *Insert evil laugh*.  

Thanks so much for all your support this year, you guys rule. We literally wouldn’t be here without you, thank-you.

 ’Til next month!

 Jodie xx

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