The image of the Great Orme goats marauding down Madoc Street in Llandudno, past the Ewe Felty Thing shop, has now been shared the world over. I feel that, especially in the current climate, it is a good opportunity to talk a bit about the small business providing the fittingly fibre-y backdrop to these goats.
Hello, my name is Nikki Small and Ewe Felty Thing is my shop. I utterly love it, and thankfully so do a lot of other people.
You might be surprised to hear it, but we don't just sell yarns and fibres. We also provide happiness, support, mindfulness and love too.
It was our 2nd birthday on the 19th of March 2020, just after we had needed to close due to the pandemic. In our short life, we have made some amazing friends in our regular customers, worked with nearly 30 different UK and Irish indie dyers, inspired new commercial yarns to be designed and produced, and also been nominated for and come 2nd in the National Knitting and Crochet Awards. Not a bad list, given that the first 8 months were spent subletting the back room of another shop!
We are really careful about what we stock and which companies we support. Our emphasis is on quality, environment and well-being. Our business sources it's electricity through renewable energy, our patterns are printed on recycled water-wheel made paper, and we NEVER support a company who participates in mulesing. Our craft and chatter groups are more like fun family gatherings, and there is always a safe space for anyone going through difficult times.
But even with all that success, we are still new. We are still a small business. Every penny that the business makes goes straight back into it. Despite all the hours that we put into the shop, as yet we are not taking anything back out. It is all used to pay bills and buy stock.
When the pandemic came we acted preemptively, closing the shop before we were ordered to as we decided it was safer for both us and our customers to do so. This meant that our shop income disappeared overnight, but we still had bills to pay.
Up until that point we had only very minimal sales through our website, and although our social media presence was good, we tended to do the vast majority of our business in person, letting people squish the yarn and fibre whilst we put the kettle on and opened the biscuits for them. We loved throwing parties and events in the shop as often as we could, celebrating birthdays, new stock ranges, dyer visits, and sock clinics.
We can't do that in person any more, but there are still lots of things which we can do. We just need to get our customers to make their own cuppa and join us from home instead!
We aren't alone in this. Small businesses all over the world are having to change the way we trade in order to stay afloat - from shops like mine to gymnastics groups, tai chi classes to hairdressers.
A lot of our products are slowly making their way onto the website, and we are sharing and plugging these as best we can on instagram and Facebook, however there are LOADS more which we simply haven't had the time or facilities yet to be able to photograph and list. Some of these are on an album on our Facebook page, but to be able to offer even more and to cover things which are much more difficult to list, we are open for telephone orders on Mondays and Fridays from 11am til 3pm now too.
We have even moved our knitting natter and crochet chatter groups online using Zoom video conferencing software. We usually charge £2.50 for these sessions in the shop, but not only is it much more difficult to do that now, we know that people are struggling in a lot of ways and the sessions have become even more of a vital lifeline to maintaining everyone's mental and emotional health. So instead, we are asking people to make a paypal or ko-fi donation for this if they are able to do so, so that it helps us keep things going in the background.
We need to be able to keep the shop running in some form to be able to pay our weekly rent. Quite simply, if we can't make a payment then we close.
We live, work and play as Ewe Felty Thing, it is almost our whole world. Sadly however, as a relatively new business we are not entitled to a lot of the support which the government has rolled out. As we are not yet 'in profit' or taking wages, the help for the self employed and for workers is not available to us, which means we have no personal income we can use to support the shop through this difficult time. Business grants and loans are being applied for, but come with a time lag of up to a few months, during which time everything still needs to be paid.
We want to still exist at the end of this, so we are keeping working and keeping plugging our products because we love our little shop and we can't fathom the idea that after 2 years of much loved but hard work, we might have to close. We have big plans of what we want to be and how we want to grow. We know that our shop is worth saving, and we know that our customers feel that way too.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us at any stage over the last two years. We need it even more at the moment, as do all small businesses. Please don't forget any of us just because you can't visit us in person at the moment. Join our online communities and support us by liking and sharing our posts and products.
We know that many of you will be struggling at the moment, just as we are. We aren't expecting extravogant spends, just hoping that should you need one of the products we sell, that you will still choose to come to us as you did before, rather than opting for one of the big online retailers.
We're still providing happiness, support, mindfulness and love. Just remotely for the time being. X