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.