Where It all began

So where did the Fawn & Fable begin? 

Like so many other independent small businesses, Fawn and Fable interiors was born from a long-standing dream. I have had a passion for all things home for as long as I can remember. I am a total home bird. I inherited my love of interiors from my mum, she loved anything homey. Our home was beautifully decorated when I was growing up. Never flashy, ‘just so’ or unlived in, but homely and considered. Looking back I always felt so proud to bring my friends back to our home and I now enjoy my children bringing their friends home too. I endeavour to create a welcoming home, that feels relaxing, where people don’t feel afraid to ruffle the cushions.

Dream career? 

Despite my early love for home interiors, it wasn’t something I ever really considered as a career. My innate calling was to help people. I wanted to make a difference to disadvantaged children and that’s the path I took. But above all, I hoped to be a mum and a wife one day and have a home of my own to wrap around my family …

My dream came true and I started my family young, each place we lived I decorated with care and to the best my budget would allow. After working for a few years in childcare, I embarked on a career with social services looking after children in residential care. This was my dream job and despite its challenges, I loved my work. But the shift patterns were difficult with a young family. After my fourth child was born, I went on to a pastoral role in a high school with regular hours and school holidays off.  Despite how much I loved my work with young people I felt a void for some creativity! I needed a way to switch off emotionally. The chalk paint phenomenon was booming and I started to paint old furniture. After lots of trial and error and when I had filled my house with as much as I could I decided to try to sell it. 

From small seeds, great things grow

I decided to start a Facebook page and soon my ideas for making an actual business wouldn’t leave me. I had no business experience and more importantly no money, yet still, the idea of this little home businesses wouldn’t leave my mind (like ever). I spent hours upon hours researching where I could buy things, started a little notebook (which I still have) Doodling down name ideas in a similar fashion to the way a love-struck teenager would scrawl down the name of the subject of their affection on the inside cover of a textbook. 

I made endless lists of how much it would cost and where I would advertise my things. I bored my husband silly with constant chatter about my idea ‘it all sounds great babe but we don’t have the money to start a business’. The thought just wouldn’t leave me and ways in which I could raise some cash, eventually, I got a small loan to start my venture. I got some cheap business cards, secured a stall at my local market, applied to my first suppliers and bought a tiny amount of stock. I went to see an old school friend for advice who had just opened her own shop after being very successful on the market. She told me about all the potential pitfalls and gave me some really good advice, it was during this conversation that it occurred to me this wasn’t really about making money. It was a love, a passion, It made me giddy, I couldn’t quite describe it and I still can’t.

The market stall calls

So in 2013 my little market stall launched and all my friends and family came down to support me and that’s what I did each Saturday around my full-time job.  Our local market trade, however, had died with just a scattering of stalls left. Some weeks I didn’t even cover my stall fee and it was only £12. 

Undeterred I carried on and I started to make more things to sell. I borrowed a sewing machine from my sister in law and eventually bought one of my own. I spent every spare moment teaching myself how to sew. I read books and started sewing lessons. Soon I was making soft furnishings, personalised cushions and bunting and this became so popular via my Facebook page I didn’t need to stand on a cold empty market anymore. I carried on with my full-time job in the school and sewed for customers in the evenings. 

All change

After missing out on a big promotion at work I decided it was time to hand my notice in. My husband had found a little outlet where you could set up a concession within a large store amongst other traders and the rent was reasonable. So that was it, finally, I was leaving the day job to go it alone and set up shop! How exciting… And boy was it a DISASTER, looking back I was so inexperienced it was destined to fail. Don’t get me wrong the furniture I was upcycling all sold quickly but I wasn’t sourcing it cheaply enough or selling it for enough to make a living. I think I lasted three months, my confidence was shattered. I am sure at this point my husband dearly wanted me to give up on this pipe dream. 

Back to the drawing board 

So with no job, I ramped up my sewing and soon was taking enough orders to keep me busy pretty much full time. I put some of my things in a local play centre that had little retail spaces that you didn’t have to man, the first few weeks were good however then things dropped off and then rent exceeded my income week after week, so once again I moved on. 

I almost gave up completely, I guessed my idea wasn’t so great after all and I just wasn’t cut out for business. I felt really quite sad. There were no jobs around, so I carried on painting furniture and sewing from home and it was enough to pay the bills just about. Despite failing I still had the burning desire to open a shop again. One day it came to my attention that a very small shop had become available in my hometown. We arranged to view it on the same day. I was so nervous. The store was tiny but the rent was low risk and the landlord was happy to let us get cracking straight away. I agreed to take on the lease and as he knew us, he dropped the keys off the very next day. I felt sick with nerves. This was going to be my last attempt to make this business work and if this failed I would give up and get ‘a proper job’.

We started buying and painting furniture to fill the shop and shouting about it on my Facebook page. People were very supportive and seemed genuinely happy that Rose & Bumble was going to have a permanent home. I secured some amazing suppliers of candles and chalk paint; we had a beautiful sign put up and as the time got closer to opening my anxiety and fear turned into excitement. There seemed to be such a buzz about our opening day and it not only made me very nervous but also gave me a little confidence too. 

Opening day

The day before our opening I was at the shop until the early hours of the morning, despite its minuscule size it was taking enormous effort to set up, I left when I was nearly sleeping standing up to return early the next day to start cleaning. I’d bought fizz and nibbles and was full of fear that no one would turn up. I needn’t have worried, the day was fabulous, there were times when people had to walk away because the shop was so busy they simply could get in. I truly could’ve wept! I could not believe where all these people had come from. With a lot of hard work and relentless dedication to learning, the shop went from strength to strength and almost 12 months to the day we moved to a much bigger shop over the road. I was once again filled with fear, what if I had taken too much on what if it failed but I needn’t have worried we had another wonderful re-opening day and the local support and love for Rose & Bumble overwhelmed me, some of these customers had been with me cheering me on since my very first market stall. Rose & Bumble has been part of the high street for four years now and I still get daily comments about how people love my store.

Back to the dream

So why on earth the new venture you might ask? 

Well as the years passed Rose & Bumble evolved.  There wasn’t enough time to paint furniture any more and manage the day to day running of the shop. There has been such a constant call for gifts that it has overtaken the homeware and Rose & Bumble is now very much considered to be a gift shop. With my heart and passion still in home interiors and a limited amount of space in the shop, I decided to expand the homeware side of things to an online shop… and so after months and months of planning (years in my mind) and hard work Fawn & Fable interiors is here and I do hope you like it…

Now I know this blog is a little long (I did warn you) and if you made it to the end well done… but lastly, I just want to leave you with one of my favourite quotes about following your dreams

‘Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it, the time will pass anyway’ – Earl Nightingale 

If you have your own start-up business journeys, I would love to hear from you

Caroline x

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