For today’s interview, please welcome Fiona from The Royal Hotel.
1. Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you are based, for example in which country and part of that country? Hi, my name is Fiona and together with my husband Tim we run a small hotel in Bridlington in East Yorkshire, UK. I have been interested in all crafts from being a young child but my favourites are sewing and knitting. I have had a sewing machine of my own since I was around 12 years old and during that time I have made many items of clothing, curtains and soft furnishings. A couple of years ago my mother insisted on buying me a new machine – a Janome MC11000. It came with a quilting kit, so I decided that was something I must try. I bought a book on patchwork and made my first quilt – and that was it, I was hooked! I now attend a group with meets once a month for a different project each time.
2. Please tell us a little about the nature of your craft/design based business. We run patchwork & quilting retreats and workshops and of course we are available for groups who wish to organise their own thing too.
3. How did the idea for your business come about? As our hotel is situated beside the sea, we are much busier in the summer months than the winter. We learnt very early on that we needed to bring trade to the town to provide work for our staff out of season. We both dance (ballroom & sequence) and we have a great dance floor, so naturally we offered dancing holidays. My husband grew up with Susan Briscoe (his mum is her godmother) who is a well known quiltmaker, author & teacher. Susan had asked us a couple of time to think about holding a retreat here at The Royal Bridlington. We arranged two one day workshops and two three night retreats, one on patchwork and one Sashiko. They proved to be a great sucess and the rest is history.
4. How long now have you been established? We have owned the Royal Bridlington for six years now and have offered patchwork & quilting workshops for the last two.
5. How do you decide what to make, and how do you come up with your great ideas? When we had Susan Briscoe and the Sashiko retreat a lady called Lilan Hedley attended. Lilian ia a quilter in her own right and specialised in North Country or Durham quilting (hand). Lilan actually rang us and asked if she & I could arrange to hold a course here for her. We did and the date sold out almost immediately. We now have alternative dates for this in Feb 2012. When I visited Harrogate Quilt show this year I made several contacts with other well know quilters and have already arranged two back to back workshops with Dawn Cameron-Dick in April 2012.
Ferret, will be teaching here October 26th. She has just won a first prize at The World Quilt Show in the USA plus prizes at most of the UK quilt shows.
As to how I decide what we should put on – well I just simply listen to what my guests and friends tell me they want to learn or are intested in, or I pick whatever I think would be best for the ladies concerned (including myself-LOL)
6. Do you undertake your business on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? We run the Royal Bridlington, DaisyChain Holiday which is self catering & Yorkshire Coast Golf full time – well more than full time really with a team of hardworking dedicated staff.
7. Tell us a little about your typical day and what is involved in running the business? We get up around 7.15, Tim prepares breakfast & later one of the chefs comes in for service too. Meanwhile I prepare fresh fruit, toast, tea and coffee for the service. We serve from 8.15 to 9.15. then deal with departing guests at reception. The clean up then commences. The kitchen, restaurant, bedrooms all need sorting then the laundry & ironing, the phone and door bell gnerall goes continually throught too. 2pm and new guests start checking in.
We probably have not yet had chance for something to eat yet, so we try and get some food inbetween arrivals. Marketing, accounts, paperwork all needs to be done inbetween, then the Bar opens 5pm then dinner is 6pm. We are usually found serving in the bar or helping in the kitchen. After dinner the usual clear down and prep for breakfast. The rest of the evening is spent serving in the bar, answering the phone, menu planning & placing food orders. If we are lucky we might get to bed around midnight.
We do the same most days, Friday is the exception – we have the holiday bungalows to service too. If we have a patchwork workshop or retreat on then I usually join in the class and catch up with my duties in the evening.
8. What advice would you give to others who are considering running a craft based business? Can’t really answer that one! Regarding running a hotel – well make sure you have the experience to do it and know what is involved first. If you think it will give you time to be together with your family, you are sadly mistaken! It is very hard work with very long hours and sometimes very difficult guests.
9. As this is Art of Crafts I have to ask, do you enjoy any crafts yourself in your spare time? If so, please tell us more. As I said I love sewing, patchwork, quilting & knitting. Sometimes a bit of embroidery or cross stitch too. My Dad used to be into leather work and made the most amazing carved belts and handbags. I have all the tools, so perhaps one day I might have a go too. I have also had a couple of knitting machines in the past too.
10. Finally, if people want to learn more about your business/website do you have a web address, Facebook page or Twitter profile where they can find out more ? Details of our patchwork and quilting workshops and retreats can be found on our website – The Royal Hotel Bridlington
Facebook – Royal Bridlington
Or twitter – Royalhotelbrid
www.DaisyChainholidays.co.uk – self catering
www.yorkshirecoastgolf.co.uk for great value golf and accommodation packages