Three years ago I opened my business on Etsy. I didn't really have any expectations, I didn't really even have a plan. I was completely taken by surprise when things took off. I had to evaluate what I was trying to do and make plans and decide upon a path. I was dyeing yarn in my kitchen at this point. My kitchen is only small and I remember having to clean and scrub and get rid of dye particles after a dye session just so I could cook dinner! It wasn't long until I took over the garage instead, converting it into a makeshift dye studio. It was always so cold in there and dark too, but it gave me the space that I needed to keep up with demand. But wool took over the house and in April this year I moved into my own proper big girl studio.
It hasn't been an easy three years. Believe it or not, I've been running this business with several health conditions that have really had an impact. For eleven months I had reduced use of the right side of my body and was using crutches to keep myself upright. I still worked during this time being ridiculously stoic, dyeing wool, dragging heavy sacks of post to the Post Office. I had some great help from a friend who'd text me and demand to help out on busy posting days to ease the pressure on me - Thank you, you know who you are! And my husband who'd label yarn and fibre as fast as he could despite working long hours in his own job.
If you're in the UK and expect to see Countess Ablaze at wool shows and festivals, this is why I am not there exhibiting. Believe me, it's not because I don't want to and it's always flattering when I'm emailed asking to exhibit or wholesale to yarn shops.
Countess Ablaze yarns and fibres are exclusive to the website and how on earth I've managed to pull off a successful online only wool business is anybody's guess, because I don't have that in person marketing and exposure that many dyers have. But I've worked tirelessly over the past three years, building up a business when there were times when my body was failing me. Production dyeing is incredibly hard physical work and I need to be resourceful with my limitations.
But I also could not have done this without you, my customers. I am honoured to have such a large following of devoted Ablazers, from all over the world. Every single one of you has supported me, not only with parting with your money, but with your continued faith in my dyeing skills. I'm grateful for all the thank you letters and emails that I have received, I treasure each and every one of them. I'm grateful for the kindness on the rare occasion that I've sent out the wrong order and you haven't shouted at me but have been patient in allowing me to correct my mistake.
I've pretty much kept most of my health concerns quiet because I try to keep my personal and professional life separate. But today on the 3rd birthday of Countess Ablaze, I'm sat here writing this blog post with tears in my eyes because I know that I've come this far in spite of the things that hold me back.
To celebrate with you, I'm offering free postage this weekend with the code FREEPOSTAGEWEEKEND which must be used at the checkout to qualify.
I've had absolutely tons of orders already so please please please bear with me to get your order out, it's going to take me a couple of days to get them all packed and sent out (plus I'm currently back wobbling about on crutches).
But above all - Thank you!