Reflections on 2017
By Eleanor Goddard
Exactly a year ago I sat with a glass in my hand to write one of my first blogs and reflect upon our first 6 months in business. I remember the emotions well. I was incredibly proud of the fact that Glyn and I had taken the plunge into business ownership and of all that we had achieved. I felt we had climbed part way up a mountain, but I knew we had a long way to go. I was never under any illusion that business ownership was going to be easy and six months in I thought we had been through the tough first months and were now entering a more stable period. I have just re-read that blog now and smiled to myself – I had no idea what we were about to let ourselves in for!
January brought a busy month on the day job with a strong order book of projects to complete. At the same time as our team were busy with this, Glyn and I had been approached by the owner of James Brindley Harrogate and we started the negotiations to buy out the interior design part of the business. Whilst we always had plans to grow the business we had expected to be a couple of years down the line before we opened our second showroom, but when the opportunity the reunite the original Brindley’s team and open up in Harrogate reared it’s head it was difficult to ignore!
A flurry of activity ensued over the next couple of months. Premises to find then refurbish (good job we have a team of experts!), thousands of pattern books to move (twice!), legal contracts to draw up, marketing activity – and so the list goes on. By 23rd on March we had opened our second showroom in Harrogate and now had a team of 11 (not including Glyn and I or even Dougal Dog).
In June we celebrated our 1st birthday with a Barbeque for all our team and their families at our home. Seeing so many people together that our business supports had quite a profound effect on both Glyn and I! With a rapidly expanding business comes additional responsibility and we decided it was time to invest in our own personal development by hiring a business coach. Since working with Stuart, we have made significant in roads into getting systems in place to support our growing business. Without doubt I see this as our best decision of the year and we both look forward to continuing our journey next year. We kick off January with a team away day for our team so that they can get involved too – unfortunately we aren’t allowed to attend though!
Our biggest challenge in Harrogate was being in a different location to James Brindley meaning we had a job to do in helping people find us, so when we heard of the opportunity to be involved with a TV documentary for Channel 5 about Harrogate getting ready for Christmas we jumped at the chance to be involved. I remember clearly being on the phone to the producer from Daisybeck pitching us as a new business with big plans for our Christmas window when she asked me what they were. I put my hand across the phone and asked Adam if he had a plan which luckily he did – I think it was the mention of a flying mannequin that did it!
Filming started in August as we were all conscious we had a lot to do. We also had a lot to live up to – not only did we want to let Harrogate know we had arrived, we had now put ourselves on national TV, so no pressure then! The film crew were great and really knew how to put us at ease – or as we now understand, to catch us off guard! It was quite a distraction and did take up a lot of time, but the PR exposure we got from it was way beyond our marketing budget could ever have hoped to have achieved!
Adam, Helen and Faye certainly pulled out all the stops in creating a most eye-catching window. It wasn’t a process without it’s creative differences, but as this was born out of a passion to portray Furnish & Fettle in our best light we certainly aren’t complaining! We have had the most overwhelming response – since the moment it was revealed, we have had people stopping in their tracks to take it in, and calling in to pass on their thoughts. We received a “Highly Commended” in the Christmas Window Competition, which we will admit was initially a disappointment as we would have loved Adam to have the public recognition we felt he deserved for all his hard work, but of course, we weren’t the only ones who had put in a lot of hard work and pulled out all the stops! As business owners we couldn’t have asked for anything more – a stunning window that firmly put us on the map and showcased the creativity of our team.
Meanwhile in Wetherby, Donna and her experienced team were quietly getting on with business as usual whilst also pulling together not just one, but two beautiful Christmas. It was the icing on the cake when we got called to the town hall to be awarded the “Overall Winner” of the town’s Christmas Window Competition, a prize which had evaded the team for the many years that they have been in Wetherby!
Alongside the distractions of both local and national fame we have been fortunate to have worked on some amazing projects. One of our priorities for next year is to get a portfolio of professioanl photographs together so that we can share some of the wonderful work that our team has done.
While on the subject of team, we have recently had two additional new starters join us. Lynda joins us with a wealth of experience gained both in Harrogate and in London where she was Head of Interior Design for Liberty’s. Leona is starting her course in Interior Design in the new year to build on her practical experience gained at Interior Affair in Boston Spa. Both are already proving valuable assets to our team as our business grows. We also have a further Interior Designer, Oliver joining us mid January so exciting times indeed!
So as the year draws to a close, I can honestly say that I am glad that this year is behind us! It has been phenomenally hard work, both physically and mentally but I now feel confident that as we approach the new year, we have some good solid foundations in place and most importantly, a fabulous team. And unlike this time last year most people in Wetherby & Harrogate (and beyond!) have now heard of Furnish &Fettle!