Our Tenement Flat

My boyfriend and I are very lucky live in a pretty huge old tenement flat, just off Byres Road in Dalcross Street (formally Buchanan Street. It’s in Glasgow’s West End if you’re an estate agent, or Partick if you’re not. At the end of our road is the pub Sparkle Horse which used to be the Dowanhill Bar (Billy Connolly’s favourite apparently and some of my more seasoned neighbours have told me you could sometimes you could see him collapsed in the close after a few too many juices).

Our flat is an ex housing association flat, in a half private, half Partick Housing Association block, which is the only way we could afford such a property, sadly all the original features have been ripped out years ago. The kitchen, carpets and fittings are the cheapest possible and it’s covered in wood chip (it’s everywhere, even on the ceilings). Everything needs addressing, there are no sockets in some rooms due to the weird way it has been made up from 2 flats, literally everything has to be rethought! Despite all this I love this place, it’s beautifully light, has huge cupboards and rooms and the location is amazing. It’s so exciting to think about restoring it to it’s former glory by putting the things back in that were probably ripped out in the 1960’s when it’s purpose was changed.

We’ve done some of the boring things like new fuse boxes, a new boiler and had some lovely new windows put in a few weeks ago that are sympathetic to the style and look like old sash windows. So we’re on our way but I thought I’d write a series of posts to share our journey as we slowly restore the “tenementness” back to our flat. You could say this is the before post – one of many, because to be honest, due to time and finances it’s going to be quite a lengthy project.

The first thing to do is very simple, it’s a new front door. Our door as it stands is a council fire door, painted bright blue, as is the close, (I’m guessing a job lot was acquired by the housing association), and it’s not very attractive. After a crappy and scary interaction with our eternally drunk neighbour last week (most of our neighbours are amazing, a real mixture of people from all backgrounds, this man however, although thankfully hardly there, is an absolute liability!), we decided a new solid door would be a good start to the restoration. We went to Glasgow Salvage Yard and picked out a new (but old) wooden door. The Glasgow Salvage Yard is stacked full of old fixtures and fittings and also some very weird stuff. It’s amazing and they will definitely have what you’re looking for hiding away somewhere.

Anyway back to the door, it’s just an old door, nothing fancy about it but I like it, with some new fittings it’s going to be perfect. Our flat wouldn’t have been grand back in the day, just a normal workers house, Partick was boomtown for mills, shipyards and engineering works, so there is no need for some of the grand fittings you would maybe see in some tenements further west. We’re thinking of maybe some stained glass at some point for the window above the door, but that is years down the list in priority. For now it’s going to feel like a major milestone to have this new door and start making this sad, unloved old flat our happy home.

 

Organising Etsy Made Local

This is the third year of our Etsy Made Local event at the Briggait which brings together two sets of sellers of 70 for a weekend market in December. This year I thought I’d write a post about how we do it (and how much it takes out of us).

WHAT IS ETSY MADE LOCAL

Etsy Made Locals are organised all over the UK on the same weekend in December to bring together the wider Etsy community and encourage people to shop small and locally. I am part of a team of volunteers who have organised the Glasgow event for the past 3 years , the others being Lynne from Squinty Stuff, Mairi from Maram Jewellery and Katherine from The Canny Squirrel (and also thanks to Lynsey from Stitchcraftblog for her help with the first 2 years). We volunteer our time to not only running the Glasgow Etsy Team day to day, but also to arranging the market. It’s a huge amount of work and a mammoth commitment on top of our own shops, full time jobs, children, washing mountains and pets.

WHEN DO WE START WORKING ON IT

We start the process in June, when we open the applications window. This year we had over 6 times the applicants to places available, so we extended the event by a day to meet demand. It is very tricky whittling down the list, You are forced to turn down some good people in order to make the lineup balanced. It’s difficult to objectively curate the fair as you really have to forget your personal tastes and look at everything with fresh eyes. It’s a huge amount of shuffling around sellers on paper, moving from list to list and making very hard decisions to get it right. We then have to split the sellers into potential Saturday and Sunday lineups and then make them balance, which adds an extra trickiness to the process. We then start a final discussion between the four of us, a bit like the X Factor judges where we argue our final cases for moving people in and out the lineup. This year the process was really hard, I can reassure you that none of the decisions are taken lightly, there were so many great applicants and some really tough resolutions were taken, I really hope that everyone who applied understands it’s not a personal attack on their talents and products if they don’t get a space. It’s just how you successfully curate a fair that people of all ages, tastes and backgrounds will want to come to, and more importantly will want to buy things. We are starting after a couple of years to understand what products will sell and what may potentially struggle, and we have to take this into account. These items however may well be perfect for future ventures. We hope that one day we will have the opportunity to work and include everyone in the team in one of our events. All in all this selection process takes about 2 weeks of hard work.

After the selection is made comes my most hated job of the process, the admin. Extracting all the emails, making up millions of lists with various details, double checking the lists, crapping yourself when you send out the emails to the people on the list in case sent it to the wrong list, the lists really do go on, This is truly the worst bit of the WHOLE process and by the time we have collected the table fees, finalised the lineup and paid all the bills it’s around the third week in August, then it’s time to take a week to calm down before the next phase.

 

SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER

It’s September and we’re now in the hard sell period when we have to get our event out there and let people know about it. We strive to get our stall holders sales before and after the event, so we share their work daily, make up a huge monster reference blog post with links to all their shops, publicity pics get sent out to all kinds of organisations, flyering is done and endless rounds of copy are written for various publications and purposes. We work really hard during this period and I hope that shows. By now we are all starting to panic about our own Christmas strategies for our shops. For the past 2 years I have really failed with my own Christmas stock due to Etsy Made Local and the self imposed torture I put through, worrying that no buyers will turn up, vendors won’t sell anything and people will be angry with me. This year I’m determined not to miss out on my own sales, so have started planning ridiculously early to make sure that I indeed can make a good show at the fair for once.

 

 NOVEMBER

November last year was, I think we would all agree a bit too much. On top of everything, we held a Press and PR night, with very tasty signature Tunnocks cocktails, goodie bags full of vendors stuff, a photo booth and workshops which took a huge amount of organising and put so much pressure on us.

On top of that we also decorated two huge windows of our venue with displays. Come the close of the event, all of us pretty much felt like we were dying and consequently we took a huge several month long break at the beginning of the year which seemed in hindsight to be relatively counterproductive.

 

This year we have decided not to do so many things that are specific to EML and rather concentrate on a more longterm strategy. We have set up a committee of volunteers to help us with our tasks, we are so lucky that 40 amazing team members are willing to give up some of their free time to help us out . I’m really hoping that without the energy drain of last years Etsy Made Local lead up and with our new amazing helpers alongside us, we will have time in November to be able to forward plan for 2018, but of course still have the most successful EML to date.

 

DECEMBER

It’s Etsy Made Local, and it’s time to put up the tables and let the people in. Last year we extended our event to 2 days, opening times extended by several hours and also our amount of sellers grew by 10 per day from the previous year. It really helped even out the frenzy of the first year which was quite frankly terrifying and make for a much nicer shopping experience. In the first year I had gone from having sleepless nights about no-one turning up to realising there was a queue of people right round the block who desperately wanted to get in. It was a very strange experience to stand on the Briggait balcony and realise everything was alright after months of winding yourself up. I will always remember this feeling and although I will try to not have quite so many nightmares this year, I can reassure there will never be complacency. The hard work always has to be put in to make it a success, people have to know where it is, when it is and also very importantly why they want to be there, that is always going to be our job.

All in all in 2016, we had around the same amount of customers on each of the 2 days as we had had on the first year, but obviously having 2 more hours open time it was a lot calmer and better for everyone. This year despite us starting off with planning a one day event (mainly because we were all spent), we are to follow the same formula and run a 2 day event with the same amount of sellers, hopefully everyone will enjoy it as much as the previous years. It’s amazing to see all your hard work pay off and result in happy people all round, both buyers and sellers alike coming together to make small businesses prosper.

 

We really hope to see you all there. Here are the event details .If you are a Etsy seller based in Scotland and would like to keep up with our plans for 2018 please join our team here and also make sure to follow our facebook page for updates here.

 

 

 

 

Viva La Vida

It’s been pretty busy so far this year and although I started with good intentions to update my blog regularly, unfortunately due to me SEO’ing my Etsy shop into an uncontrollable monster, alongside mass redundancies and the General Election at my Real Work, 2017 has kind of run away with me once again. Blogging regularily, can be very difficult for me, I have no real control over my workload and to be honest there is no guaranteed routine in my life. I’ve decided to try not to beat myself up about it and in the future post whenever I can. Sometimes it will a brief review and other times a longer news catch up. I’m sure this irregularity goes against the golden rules of successful blogging, but it’s just the way my life is, and therefore the way it’s gotta be.

and now after that… THE WEEKS REAL NEWS

Last week I was a very lucky girl, as my best friend J took me to TRNSMT festival in Glasgow. I got to experience something truly worthy of being on anyone’s bucket list – being backstage and looking out on the crowd (whilst hiding behind a speaker so no-one could see me),

It must be truly humbling (and maybe a bit terrifying) to see such a huge sea of people gathered together to enjoy music that you are responsible for creating, and I was very proud of my friend R as he played the drums to thousands of fans, It was a great night and a well needed reminder to myself of how fun and exciting life can be, (if you let it).

We’re all so caught up in running around, being stressed up to the eyeballs, and making things as impossibly difficult for ourselves as we can. To add to this, I also like to regularly beat myself up about the fate of the environment, politics, the actions of others, the size of my washing mountain and the state of the hall carpet (but strangely, very rarely the state of my hair).

I need to fill my life with experiences, something i quite often forget when caught up in the general melee for existence. Life is worth so much more than worrying constantly about work, chores and inanimate objects and I really hope I can try and remember this in the future. This was a truly remarkable once in a lifetime experience, and something I will never forget. It’s inspired me to start making sure I create more memorable moments, (inbetween all the washing loads and the neverending cleaning of the bathroom).

Being at the festival and feeling so excited and moved by some outstanding band performances has been the kick up the butt I needed to remember myself and to try and reclaim some of the old me. I used to live for the record shop Monday treasure hunt, going to gigs and discovering the newest (or rather the obscurest ) bands I could . Thank goodness last Friday reminded me of who I was, and who I still am (somewhere in there).

Lets hope something in me has changed for the good and I start living my life with some real (or at least half) purpose.

Big thanks to J&R for having me in your entourage.

Labour DAZE

Last night I went to my first ever political gathering. I’ve been a dormant member of the Labour Party for about a year. I joined after brexit, when enough was enough and some action had to be taken. As far as I could see people don’t feel listened to, no-one has any time or space fir anyone else and we are in danger soon of overlooking humanity so badly, that society will surely implode.

The Labour Party are in my mind the closest spokesmen for how I want the world to be, which is simply kinder to the planet and also to each other.

The rally was in the Old Fruit Market in Glasgow, the main draw being a election speech by leader Jeremy Corbyn. I turned up on my own, knowing no one there and after nearly chickening out I forced myself in and bought myself a pint. In the main hall I found a seat on the end of a row and first up were some mini speeches by various Scottish candidates standing in the election, all were inspiring in their own way and met with great whoops and cheers from the crowd, which left me wondering if I would ever be that passionate about someone merely speaking on a stage, but then enter Mr Corbyn.The most eloquent, passionate, caring and endearing person in the room by far. He is an inspiration.And quite frankly come June 6th in my mind our only hope. I will now continue to campaign as much as I can in his name and keep my fingers crossed that miracles can happen, please, please people!