For today’s interview please welcome Alison from the beautiful interiors boutique Vintage Amethyst.
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? Hello, I’m Alison Britton-Paterson, I’m married to James who is a professional contemporary artist.
We live in the UK in Darlington which is in southern County Durham, just on the border of North Yorkshire. We are in easy reach of the beautiful Lake District, Yorkshire Dales & the North Yorkshire Moors.
2. Please tell us a little about the nature of your business. My business is called Vintage Amethyst, Vintage Amethyst is solely an online business & sells homewares & wedding day decorations.
3. How did the idea for your business come about? Vintage Amethyst first started in 2003 with me making jewellery. I had wanted to sell my jewellery alongside pretty vintage home-wears & things I had ‘up-cycled’. Vintage Amethyst (this as you can see is where the name comes from!) was born but the jewellery was so popular that I decided just to concentrate on making & selling pretty gemstone jewellery for a while. The Vintage Amethyst website began in November 2003!
I loved the jewellery making, but in my heart I knew I really wanted to sell home-wares as I love decorating & shopping for our home, (I am a home décor addict!!!) so I decided to go with my heart & make the leap into home-wares in early 2008 & since then Vintage Amethyst has grown so much. Over a period of time I found that a lot of brides-to-be were buying some of the items for their wedding day & so I added a dedicated wedding day collection. This has been a wonderful success & I love getting orders for peoples wedding day, it feels lovely to be part of someone’s special day even if it’s only a teeny tiny part.
4. How do you decide what to stock, and are there any big influences on you, such as authors, magazines, blogs? To be honest I generally stock items that I like! Over the years you get to know your customers & what they like to buy but I rarely buy items that I don’t personally like even if I know they will sell. I feel as if Vintage Amethyst is part of me & so it wouldn’t feel true if I stocked items just for the sake of it. Over the last 10 years my tastes have evolved & so Vintage Amethyst tends to evolve too.
Obviously books, magazines & blogs influence me as they would everyone, but I can’t say there is a particular one that I would say is a big influence at the moment. In the past Shabby Chic by Rachel Ashwell was a big influence as I love white & white interiors so it helped me bring together successfully my love of white interiors & vintage style & transform it into a personal style of my own which is a little less ‘girly’ than Shabby Chic but is influenced by the style none-the-less.
5. Do you undertake your business on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? Vintage Amethyst is a full-time business for me & although I run the business James is also a partner in the business & he is the technical person & he does all the website side of things as well as his ‘proper’ job of being an artist!!!! It is great that James & I are both self employed as we get to spend a lot of time together ~ I know that wouldn’t work for every couple but it certainly works for us. We currently share business premises. I have the large downstairs room & James uses the 2 rooms upstairs as his studio. We have just moved house & so will be moving both our businesses to our new home & giving up the business premises once we get a large storage workshop for me built & a studio for James. We used to work from home a few years ago & so it will wonderful to do it again in our new home.
6. Tell us a little about your typical day and what is involved in running the business? Each day can be different when you run your own business but a typical day would start with me checking emails & orders. This can take a while sometimes too!!! I would then head over to the business premises & get started on the orders, wrapping them up for postage. Afternoons are when I do the postage for parcels & send confirmation of postage emails to each person & then late afternoon when they are all done they get dropped off at the local Post Office Depot to be delivered to their new owners!
I also have to make time for ordering new stock, taking product photos, editing photos, updating the website, answering queries, blogging & posting on Facebook & Twitter! (Although the social media side of things I generally do whilst waiting for postage labels to be printed off ~ multi-tasking at its best!) I used to make a number of items for the website too, such as signs, painted hearts, painted letters, chalkboards etc. but unfortunately over the last 2 years the website has become so busy that I just don’t have time to do these things & manage to do everything else. I used to love making things but it got to the point where I just hated doing it as I was so busy & it became such a chore, so I made the decision to stop selling these items & I am so glad that I did as I find days much easier & I’m much less stressed now! As anyone who runs their own business knows it is difficult to ‘turn off’ & you can find yourself working into the night on things & always be checking emails! James is a busy working artist too & so we both try to stop working at a ‘normal’ 6pm-ish time now.
7. 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 ?
You can find the Vintage Amethyst website at http://www.vintageamethyst.com
Find Vintage Amethyst on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VintageAmethystBoutique
The Twitter page can be found at https://twitter.com/VintageAmethyst
The Blog can be found at http://vintageamethyst.blogspot.co.uk
And Vintage Amethyst can be found on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/vintageamethyst
Oh & if you want to take a peek at James’ work visit his website here ~ www.james-paterson.com
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