Last Tuesday, we talked about P for Progress, and how, after years of pedalling like a lunatic, just making ends meet and raising a family, the pages of the Corporate Clarity chapter began to unfold.
When I started demonstrating them on Create & Craft, our Claritystamps finally got the recognition they deserved, and what was a tiny business grew very quickly in to a bigger business.
Isn’t it funny how life can suddenly catapult you into a different world? I went from worrying about money and bills pretty much constantly, to worrying about how to hang on to the business whilst it took off! So the pressure shifted completely from a negative to a positive - almost overnight! Two words spring to mind: Family and Friends.
We very quickly learned about supply and demand! One of the worst things you can do is create a demand for something and then not be in a position to supply it! But what if you don’t see the volume of demand coming? Good question!
Looking back, it was almost comical. To coin a good old English phrase, we didn’t know what hit us!!
A good friend of ours, Julie, just rolled her sleeves up and piled in! Dave took responsibility for supplies, raw materials, delivery up to Peterborough. I cut out stamps till my hands changed shape! Mum and Dad were making up kits as fast as we could make the stamps, Grace and Mark were thrown in at the deep end, bagging, counting, packing. And still it grew. The house was busting with boxes and stamps!
We were scrambling to meet demand, but we managed.
Month on month, the demand grew. And month on month, we grew with it.
I actually think that rapid growth isn’t always good. The pressure - albeit a positive pressure - still ends up being what it is: PRESSURE.
In fact, I am still scrambling to keep up !!!! The consolation is that there are about 20 people scrambling alongside me nowadays! So at least I’m not lonely!
I will NEVER forget the first NEC show the November of that first year on TV. We had a feeling we might be busier than usual, but nobody could have anticipated what happened. When Health & Safety closed our aisle, because the Clarity Stand was heaving so much it was dangerous, it was almost surreal. And anybody who has ever been to the NEC knows that it is always heaving!
It really was unbelievable. You can imagine how popular we were with the neighbours!
And in the evenings, inbetween the crazy trading days, the Clarity Crew took over the dining-room at the B&B into the wee small hours, cutting out and mounting more stamps, so that we had something to sell the following day! Needs must!
And it’s like that pretty much whenever we attend exhibitions. A sea of people...how fortunate we are! We mostly manage to take enough stock now, although we invariably run out of popular lines fast. Sometimes, Dave even drives back to base for more stock. What a great business position to be in.
But if you have ever visited us at a stand, anywhere, you will know how hard we work! Non-Stop. Sometimes, I think why not take your foot off the pedal Barb? It’s not like the old days, when you really had to sing for your supper. But actually, I think I really enjoy the buzz and the interest in what we are doing! If somebody wants to know how to do something, and they want to learn, then it goes without saying that I am there to help. Also, it makes the time fly by when you are busy and working, don’t you find?
So a lot of the pressure I’m under nowadays is self-inflicted; I don’t necessarily HAVE to graft like this - I choose to.
However, I take non of this for granted. I have watched good people with sound businesses crash and burn - and often through no fault of their own.
To quote Charles Darwin:
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.