Cloud 9 at No. 10
Monday, 4 December 2017 10:00
Such a lot has happened since last I updated this blog - and that was only a couple of weeks ago! I’ve spoken before about my amazing Small Biz 100 win, in which Cloud 9 was chosen as one of one hundred businesses throughout the UK to embody the ideals of Small Business Saturday UK. I enjoyed my SmallBiz100 day at the end of October and have appeared in several national and local newspapers, magazines and across social media. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind and I admit to have been a bit overwhelmed at times.
Then, a few weeks back, I received this:
Despite the fact that it was quite short notice and would cost me an arm and a leg in train fares, I had to go! How often do you get an invite to the Prime Minister’s residence?
I wasn’t allowed to say where I was off to until the day itself and we were prevented from taking our own photographs inside No. 10 itself, all for security reasons, so it all felt a bit cloak and dagger. My lovely husband accompanied me, but wasn’t allowed in as the invite extended only to the winners themselves.
And that was probably just as well. In former years it appeared that a handful attended; this year there must have been well over half of us.
I was treated to a view of the inside of some of the most prestigious rooms, including the White Room, Churchill’s Bedroom and the Thatcher Room, as well as seeing some original artwork, such as two Turner’s in the White Room and a Lowry at the top of the famous staircase which featured pictures of every PM we’ve had.
I also got to meet some of the other winners and, considering that we’ve been supporting each other online since August and never met, it was lovely to put faces to names.
There’s me, second row - fourth from the left wearing a turquoise scarf (and standing next to Baroness Fairhead!)
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to be included in this fantastic event. It was a truly life-enhancing experience which I will remember forever. Look out grand-children!
Small Business Saturday itself went well, although I was a little disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm from some quarters. Dumfries is a town which, like many other towns across the UK, is struggling to compete with out of town discount stores, online sites wth a distinct lack of overheads and people choosing to enjoy a shopping experience in larger cities. All to often I hear people complain that there’s nothing in Dumfries to tempt them to shop there.
But there is. What we small independents lack are the huge resources of larger businesses to advertise our existence and so, all to often, we go unnoticed by many. What we need is something bigger than small retail groups to organise and advertise events which will reignite interest in the town. And to that, I look to the local council.
They are undoubtedly best placed to help small and micro businesses in their towns. I hope that, following them having largely unrecognised my Small Business Saturday UK successes, by next year Dumfries and Galloway Council will have woken up to the free resource that is Small Business Saturday and actively engaged (like 82% of other UK councils!) with the event. And for them to please open discussions about the town to all businesses. Those of us who have no intention of becoming a member of groups, but who have some proactive and inexpensive ideas, are being excluded and I don’t think it’s fair or clever to deny us a voice. Or think that other groups speak for us all.
On the run up to Christmas Cloud 9 will be open more than ever! I’m keeping Monday as my day off, but I’ll be open most Wednesdays and every Sunday afternoon. The shelves are stocked full of UK handmade gifts, with almost all being made in Dumfries and Galloway. That’s a boast I like to make because all too often I look at businesses similar to mine who import goods from far further afield and sometimes from outside the UK. If you want to ensure that your gift hasn’t just been rolled off a far away production line, shop at Cloud 9!
As you can imagine, my own creativity has had to take a bit of a back seat to everything else that has been happening. However, I have recently completed this wall hanging, made from recycled jumpers and felted, embroidered and handstitched together! It’s now hanging on the wall at Cloud 9, so come and have a look when you pop in.
Workshops are still taking place and I have a list of requests for new courses next year. These include wet felting, vase making and painting workshops. I’ll do my best!
Oh, and before I go, a quick reminder that my 2018 calendar is now available online and in store!
It’s an A5 wire bound affair this year, featuring twelve of my Tiny Paintings, and a bargain at £10.