When I left school all I wanted to do was work in an office and started my apprenticeship as an Office Junior, you know, making the tea, running the errands. 30 years later I had risen through the ranks to the dizzy heights Personal Assistant to an eminent Professor in our local hospital.
And then I had a nervous breakdown…….
It was time to re-evaluate my life and work out what I wanted to do next. I spent two years writing, I had articles published and even drafted out my first book. Then we decided to move out to the country. We bought a lovely little house with a wonderful garden filling me with visions of sitting out in the sunshine writing to my heart’s content – the future looked rosy….. you might feel a BUT coming on – and you would be right!
We fell across the opportunity to buy the lease of a small seaside gift shop. It was a gift, would offer me a regular income and was something I was immediately drawn to. Looking at the accounts it became obvious to me that there was room for improvement, the first thing that jumped out at me was the lack of an on-line presence. My action plan was simple – I immediately opened an ebay store to run alongside the shop. The aim was to build our on-line presence over time so that when we eventually decided it was time to leave we would have a solid little online business which I could run from home.
Salams Gift Gallery was born. Salam being the name of our dog – who at the outset would come to the shop with me to keep me company, and when at home would lay at my feet whilst I worked.
The first few years were hard, working 80+ hours to keep the shop during the summer months, and then playing catch-up and trying to build our online presence in the winter months (when the shop was closed). 4 years ago I took the step of employing someone to take some of the strain at the shop and free some of my time during the summer so I could concentrate more on Salams Gift Gallery…..
Then my Dad died, and keeping my promise to him I took on the role of looking out for my 79 year old mother. In that first couple of years she needed a lot of TLC so business took a backward step once again.
I have now regained some of my life with staff gainfully employed at the shop. I ring Mum every day but I see Mum just once a week as she now appreciates that I need to spend time on my business – which will be my pension.
I am pleased to say that on-line sales have grown steadily over the last 8 years and I am now in a position to launch myself into Salams Gift Gallery full time and hopefully take it to the next level.
The next level doesn’t mean more shops and more staff – it means consolidating what we have already built so that I have a solid and steady business which I can easily run from home and which will give me a steady income up to and into my retirement.
As for my book – well it is still in draft form, maybe, just maybe one day I will dig it out and redraft it – who knows what the future will bring. The process of writing it was cathartic, it allowed me to lay some ghosts to rest so I could move on to make my life what it is today.
I hope you have enjoyed learning a little about me – and I hope that you enjoy browsing around Salams Gift Gallery. Thank you for reading.