The Story of Jayne Bradshaw - Owner of Swings and Pretty Things
Home, Garden, Outdoor Living Products And Gifts For Special Occations
When I was asked to write 750 words about my business, Swings & Pretty Things I wasn't sure I would be able to, 750 seems rather alot. Upon voicing my worries it provided much laughter to those that know me - most people said "Ha 750 words didn't know you could say anything in as little as 750 words"...
So here we go, a story of sorts, about my business...
I started Swings & Pretty Things in June 2008 after deciding I wanted to do something but not really sure what. I drove my husband insane with different ideas until he suggested, with a patient smile, that I write a list. So I did - the list consisted of all random things I either liked doing or thought I might like to try... horse riding, reading, gardening, eating chocolate, drinking wine, going out for dinner, owning a children's shoe shop. I then thought that an internet business would be just the thing and before long I had a list of things I thought might sell - all based on garden and outdoor living, I figured it had to be something I loved if it was going to take up a lot of time.
I did some research and bounced lots of ideas off friends and family. The research eventually came to a stop and I figured I'd done as much as I could and really a decision needed to be made... would I go for it or not...
I wrote lists, went through the lists, wrote new lists, panicked a little (OK a lot!) then decided that I should give it a go - I should start a business. The deciding factor after all of my planning and was that I didn't want to regret not doing it in 5 years time.
My husband at the time was working away, I was (and still am) working part time for my fathers company (B&C Engineering Leicester Limited) so all that along side running a home made life rather interesting for a few months. A 3am bedtime became quite normal, I slept with a pen and paper next to the bed because I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking of something and couldn't get back to sleep until I'd made a note. After all of the planning I had done there were still so many things that I had not thought about at all, many mistakes to make along the way and the first few months alone was a major learning curve.
Our biggest struggle and sometimes still is, is finding good quality unusual products. Things that we love enough to want to sell. Things you can't always find in a high street shop, little bits of loveliness that probably aren't items you need but certainly ones you want. When you do find the right something though it is very exciting and often we add it to our Sneaky Peek category on our website so customers see what is coming in and can pre order if they would like to. More often than not this usually ends up with us increasing our initial order which is when we know we have got it right.
We have broadened our range to include home accessories as well as garden and outdoor living products. Recently we also added personalised silver jewellery to our gift category for those times when a special gift is needed.
We have been lucky over the last two years to have products in several publications such as BBC Good Food Guide, BBC Homes and Antiques and The Sunday Times including an article published in Period Ideas magazine.
Two years on and all is going well, starting in a major recession like we did I am proud to still be here and going from strength to strength. We sell on our website www.swingsandprettythings.co.uk and we also attend ladies shopping evenings where we bring a selection of products to your home for you to browse with family and friends which are proving to be very popular and it's lovely getting feedback from customers, the internet can be a little faceless at times so it's good for people to know there is a face behind the Swings & Pretty Things name.