What. A. Year! As we fling open our bright pink door for you this week we don’t mind telling you it’s been an emotional one – as it has for each and every one of us in very different ways.
Like most local small, indie businesses it was probably the toughest year for us in ways we never, ever could have imagined and it feels a little like we’re opening the doors to you: our wonderful and loyal customers, as a completely different business than the one we were when we first closed our door back in March last year.
But today’s post isn’t about dwelling on the past or the tricky times – we’re beyond proud of sailing our ship through one almighty storm, thinking on our feet, being creative and turning it round to make ourselves even stronger and better for you! Today is about telling you all about where we are now; what we’ve been doing and what what’s to come for Ashbridge and Brown.
SO WHERE ARE WE NOW?!
Well (by some small miracle and a heck of a lot of hard work!) exactly where we were before this all began - at least in the physical sense of the word. There was no way we were going anywhere anyway! Our gift shop has always fitted in beautifully in Carlisle’s historic quarter: nestled away like hidden treasure along with some other lovely local businesses. What we have put extra time and effort into whilst we’ve been closed is growing our online shop, website and social media channels and having a bit of a re-jig!
The lockdowns have taught us a lot about how loyal our customers are and a couple of brief stints on local TV and radio threw our ‘net’ a little wider last year and gained us some lovely new online customers and followers as well as the continued love and support from those who pop in and see us when we’re open. We’ve used the lockdowns to try out different ways of running the online side of the shop and to experiment a little bit with what products worked and what didn’t. This helped us get better and reach even more people when we couldn’t in real life.
Online shopping has always been a tricky one for smaller businesses like us: never will we aspire to be a big commercial company with delivery in less than five minutes of something you can also get in every other shop! What we will be there to do is to bring you a carefully selected edit of some of the best things in our shop from brands who care about what they do, all wrapped beautifully and carefully by one of us (probably singing to the radio and drinking tea) with a little personal touch. And you can rest safe in the knowledge that your hard-earned cash is going straight back into a small, local business. We’re always grateful for each and every one that supports us whether that is by spending with us or sharing our posts and recommending us to somebody else.
Our social media got a little bit more consistent last year and over the Christmas lockdown really helped boost our website sales as we were able to share with you new items, help customers and generally keep you up to date with things when you couldn’t come in and see for yourself.
WHAT HAVE WE BEEN DOING?!
We anticipated that after Christmas we’d be tumbled into another lockdown and so decided to use this time to have the mother of all Spring cleans and a jolly great big re-jig of the shop! We’ve taken our time looking at the layout, examining how we do things and carefully considering how we want to keep on doing things going forward and what we’d like to change up a bit.
The past year and a bit has really made us value our home and garden and we know you have too. Our homeware bits and bobs became so popular last year and so we’ve really put some time and effort in to growing that side of the shop with some lovely new home, garden and lifestyle items we hope will inspire you just as much as they do us.
We’ve worked on dividing the shop up a little better so that there are clear homes for children’s gifts, ladies, mens, homeware and lifestyle – just so it all makes a bit more sense as you’re wandering about and so that it’s much easier for you to find what you’re looking for!
In our usual style we’ve re-purposed what we’ve got and enjoyed taking old fixtures apart and inventing new ways to display everything creatively with our usual Ashbridge & Brown twist. We’ve worked on opening the shop up more so that you feel like you have plenty of space to take your time and shop and so that it’ll never feel cramped or over-crowded either!
We’re excited to share some new brands with you too. We now have a selection of stationary and homeware from American brand ‘Cavallini.’ Think…beautifully made notebooks, pencils, tea towels and aprons with their signature vintage map, botanical and food prints – we just know you’ll love them and they sit right at home alongside what we already have. We’ve introduced ‘Seedball’ too, a British company who make sustainable seed bombs with native wildflowers; bamboo pots and herb kits for the kitchen windowsill and are all 100% plastic free! We’ve also expanded our Jellycat selection, got more new pots, planters and vases than you or I can shake a stick at and decided to add in more enamelware pieces aaaand a beautiful selection of printed crockery too. Oh! And as if that wasn’t enough for you, we’ve also introduced some new Spring Summer lines to the ladies collection aswell: Think patterned kaftans, printed and embroidered headbands and an extensive selection of sunglasses!
BUT WHAT’S NEXT?!
Who knows! If it’s one thing we’ve learnt over the past little while it’s that we can’t look too far ahead. We aim to keep on being true to us and bringing you a carefully selected range of items hand-picked by us and that you wont find in every shop. We want you to know that we buy from brands that share the same values as us: They make lovely things as fairly and sustainably as they can and are made to be used, loved and to last!
We’ll keep us making use of our recycled fixtures and fittings and keep on being as creative as we can so that it keeps inspiring you too! We’re almost plastic free in the shop and online now and we re-use as much of our packaging from deliveries as we can. We also recycle what we can’t and then we upcycle it the best we can. We’ll want to keep doing this and get better!
We’re looking forward to sharing even more with you online through the website, this blog and on both Facebook and Instagram too and we can’t WAIT to see you back in the shop sometime soon. We’re so grateful to you all for the support over the past while and appreciate each like, share, tag and comment on social media just as much as each physical purchase.
WELCOME BACK, it’s been a while!