Wow, what a party! This Saturday I opened the doors to the dye studio for an end of year celebration and what a celebration it was. If I was more of a people person, I'd be setting up a side business in event planning!
I could not have asked for a better crowd and I'm honoured at how far some of you travelled from. There was a great mix of people I had met before and some that I hadn't. There was yarn, alcohol, a buffet, Cards Against Humanity and so much laughter. A good number of new friendships were formed on Saturday and conversions to wig wearing! I mostly buy mine from Lush Wigs.
I have all sorts of thank yous to make and they are all in no particular order (and I'm hoping that I haven't missed anybody out).
Door prize donations, a massive thank you to everybody who contributed:
Sally Youn in the US who wanted to be here somehow and donated blocking boards with blocking pins in lieu of her presence.
Wendy donated a silver spindle for spinning and gorgeous handmade buttons.
Jo donated handmade bunting which spells out "Bugger Off" (I so wanted this for myself!)
Bev of Boo Knits donated not only a complimentary pattern for everybody but also a collection of patterns to a lucky winner.
^^ Boo Knits & I - she has a presence as serene as her gorgeous shawl patterns, I was having a total fangirl moment. I was not the only one who was fangirlling, (totally a word) but shortly before Bev arrived I was grabbed by somebody who looked like she'd just caught Santa leaving her presents under the tree, "IS IT TRUE? IS SHE REALLY COMING?" Reader, it was true. Photo belongs to Dominey.
^^ That's Isla, that is!
I would not have have been able to pull off such a successful event without significant help from the following people (as much as I protest that I'm a one woman whirlwind who insists on doing ALL THE THINGS, even I need a bit of help)
My husband, Stu - who learned to use the till quickly, lugged 28 kilos of ice over from the supermarket and has put up with my many moments beforehand of "It's going to be a DISASTER!"
My surrogate brother, Jason - who flew in from Ireland for the weekend, was an excellent barman and helped to keep everything ticking over.
Jo - invaluable help from Jo in setting up the studio on Friday, building flat pack furniture, making coffee like a pro, organising things with a clipboard and doing door security.
To end this blog post, I want to tell you about The Mustard Tree, a local Manchester charity who works with the homeless and the marginalised. Homelessness is on the rise, numbers have risen and services are strained.
Almost twelve years ago I was homeless. I had a five month old baby which meant that although I was fortunate enough not to have been forced onto the streets with a babe in arms, the accommodation I was given was vulnerable. I was grateful for a roof over my head, which was organised by a local charity in the area that I was in at the time, but I had little running water, no heating, Victorian windows that had never been maintained with large holes and smashes, severe damp on the walls, urine soaked thread bare carpet and a front door lock that barely secured. I can quite honestly say that as a very young mother, it was an extreme low point for me and I was in and out of hospital. Making the best of a bad situation, I embraced the help that charities offered me until finally I was able to stand on my own two feet. Eventually I got to where I am now.
But the horror of not having a place of safety is something that haunts you forever.
Tickets to The Saturnalia Party were £10 per person and every penny of those was put aside for The Mustard Tree. I also pledged 20% of all sales on Saturday would be donated too. Together we raised over £550. The first thing I did this morning was to donate that money; Countess Ablaze has rounded up to £600. Everybody who came to Saturnalia, I thank you for the bottom of my heart for helping me to do this.
I've been asked a fair bit about two things;
1. When will the online shop be back open? Sometime this week. I need to stock take (not that there is much left) and clean up but most importantly, I need a rest and to do things at my own pace. The past six months have been a whirlwind of very long working hours, little downtime and now that Saturnalia is over - raising money for charity was my priority this month - a little breathing space is needed. The studio is open to visitors as usual this Friday and Saturday.
2. Boxing Day Sale - Countess Ablaze will not be having a Boxing Day sale this year. Firstly, I don't have the stock and secondly, using deep discounts as a marketing strategy makes me uncomfortable. I am passionate about craftspeople and artisans and supporting their work; in fact, all our prices should be higher to reflect the skill, experience and time that goes into our art. I do put small discounts in receipts as a thank you to paying customers but you won't be seeing shop wide sales at Countess Ablaze again (I've rarely done them anyway).
A massive thank you to every single person who has supported me and this business this year. The next shop update will be early in January.
~ Countess Ablaze