Looking Back

I arrived at the Devon County Showground yesterday, a couple of days early so that I can do some cycling in Dartmoor. As I parked the caravan behind the marquee, I can’t help reflecting on the journey that Justina and I have been on over the last few years.

Five years ago, Valentte was a small business in danger of going bust. We had recently moved to Cheshire to escape the sky-high London rents and were making stock from our kitchen table in Nantwich. Each week Justina would order the ingredients and make the products, and I would label everything.

On Saturday morning we would get up at 3:15 am and load our battered old blue Skoda which we nicknamed “Felicia” with stock and equipment and drive to London. We arrived at about 7 am and set up the stall.

Unfortunately, trade in the market was going down. At the time the underground station was frequently closed to repair the lifts, and it had a considerable effect on footfall in the market and consequently our sales.

As the months went by, our sales got lower, and our financial situation got more serious. We were trying to support the two of us from a business that was too small and not profitable enough. It was an incredibly stressful and challenging time.

In the end, we decided that something had to change. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but we decided to start doing some shows. I googled and found that we could trade with Eden Crafts inside their marquee with a mix of other stall holders.

The next available show was the Devon County Show. We booked our stand, and I prepared everything. It’s a five-hour drive from Cheshire, and I was scared to death! Would we make any sales, would we look small and stupid, would Felicia breakdown on the long journey? As I drove, I was wracked with fear and nerves.

I arrived and set my stall up. To keep costs down, I had brought my tent, a tiny single-man one designed for the mountains. I pitched it behind the marquee, terrified that I would be “told-off” for being there. I didn’t have any spare money to pay for accommodation or even for a pitch in the official campsite. We had spent everything we had to come to the show. I cooked my meals on a tiny gas stove, unable to afford to eat the food on offer from the show catering stands.

We had a fantastic show, taking more each day than we would in a typical month at Covent Garden. We had found a way forward, a pathway out of our problems. I cannot tell you how happy and relieved Justina and I were.

Today, I’m writing this in my beautiful caravan which I love, and I’m barely 10m from the spot where I pitched my tiny tent five years ago. I feel incredibly lucky and happy that we stuck with it and persevered in the pursuit of our dreams. We still have a long way to go, but I cannot help reflecting with joy on the journey.

It is only possible to see how far you have come when you turn and look back. If you are on a journey seeking the fulfilment of your goals, then please take a moment to reflect on how far you have come. If you can appreciate the progress you have already made then the journey ahead will feel that little bit easier. You have the power within you to fulfil your dreams; everything you need is already within you. Long before others believe, you must believe it’s possible.

Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

Hi, I'm Luke Bream, the author of this blog, and one of the co-founders of Valentte. Thanks for taking the time to read about our journey.

We are small business based in Nantwich on an old dairy farm. We make affordable, luxurious home fragrance and natural skincare. It smells amazing, works like a treat and comes beautifully wrapped.

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22 thoughts on “Looking Back”

  1. Can I tell you that I really enjoy reading your emails about your experiences starting out . You are very inspirational and I wish you and Justine every success. I’m looking forward to receiving my samples and becoming a customer.

    • Thanks Catherine, I have bumped you up our list and your samples will be sent in the next few days. Best Wishes
      Luke x

  2. Your stories are very uplifting & encouraging.A positive attitude to build on & a refreshing change from the news we focus on everyday.Keep them coming & good luck with more success.

  3. I 1st came upon you at the Yorkshire Flower show just a year ago. Since then I have become a regular customer. I am really enjoying reading your inspiring blogs. It is something to wake up to rather than the constant devastating need we seem to have these days. Thank you Luke

    • Hi Katherine, Thank you for your lovely comment. I agree about the news these days, it is soul destroying! I’m a big fan of Harrogate Flower Show, some of the organising team are customers and I love to recommend the show.
      Best Wishes
      Luke x

  4. Reading your posts always gives food for thought.
    I discovered you a few years ago at Stoner Park and have been addicted to your products ever since, I have enjoyed sharing and gifting them to other who are also always lifted by there wonderful aroma and quality. When you find something that feels like a treat every time you use it there’s no going back, so thank you.

    • Thank you Wendy, I remember working at a show and a lovely lady came on the stall to tell me she had been given a box as a present and now she was buying two more on for herself and another as a present. I love that our products fall into the everyday, affordable treats category. Best Wishes
      Luke x

  5. Hi Luke I found “Looking Back” a very moving and inspirational depiction of your struggle and ultimate success.I have met you and your team several times at various shows across London and have always been impressed with the genuine passion for your products and how personable everyone is.
    Your products speak for themselves as their quality is incredible and affordable.
    I am so happy for you and Justine that you never gave up and continue to provide us with the best products of this type on the market.
    With regard to Covent Garden I feel the area has had the heart and soul ripped out of it with so many high end designer shops springing up.It used to be my favourite shopping destination but I very rarely visit now .

    • Hi Jayne, thank you for your lovely, kind comment. I agree 100% about Covent Garden. The whole area is now owned by a foreign property company that seeks to maximise the rents they achieve. If they had their way the market would close too. It is such a shame. Best Wishes
      Luke x

  6. I love reading your posts.I do find them encouraging although my situation is nothing like yours.I am recently bereavered & find the looking forward much much harder than looking back.
    Please keep your words coming though I love to read them.

    • Thanks Irene, I feel your pain and know how hard it is to look forward to a future without a person you love. My mother died some years ago and I still think about her each day and miss the things we shared. Best Wishes
      Luke x

    • Hi Kay
      This year sadly we aren’t doing any shows in Wales, but next year we will be at The Royal Welsh and hopefully RHS Cardiff Flower Show
      Best wishes
      Luke x

  7. I love reading your blog almost as much as I love your products! I first purchased a candle from you at the Royal Welsh Show, after going home and using it that night I came back the next day and had another two .. one for myself and one for my mum! Wishing you well on your continued journey 🙂

    • Hi Sarita, thank you for your lovely comment and for shopping with us. I love the Royal Welsh Show, sadly we are not there this year, but will be back again in 2020. Best Wishes
      Luke x

  8. I loved this aspiring story we first bought your candles at RHS Tatton before our own little lives we turned upside down with bereavement and illness ~ like you my husband owned a small butchers then he suffered a stroke at 55 our lives changed ! Would we lose the business would we lose our house? Would my husband survive – financial problems followed – bad bad time’s – we somehow dug deep and soldiered on We know what running a small business is like ( looks so easy from the outside) your heart and soul are connected to it you are sad when people say bad things you are elated when customers say nice things – the ups and downs etc etc – I found you again on insta I’ve shared your products I’ve ordered twice in a month I’m addicted my husband finds your fragrances calm him so that’s a win win from both our views – keep going – keep the Faith ??

  9. Hi Luke. Thank you for your blog. It is very inspirational. A month ago I had never heard of Valentte, such is the power of social media and Facebook. Had it not been for Covid19 I doubt that I would have even considered ordering from you. However I have now ordered and received three separate gift boxes and when one box was damaged you quickly sent a replacement without issue. Even my husband loves your scents. Thank you for keeping your dream.


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