Tea & Chat with Katy from Mint Rainbow

Tea & Chat with Katy from Mint Rainbow

Hello! Great to have you here, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?

Hello! Well, thanks for having me – make mine a Latte or a Diet Coke please – I have 2 small children, so I always need ALL the caffeine!

So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

So, Mint Rainbow is a small Kent business making handmade luxury, organic clothing in sizes Newborn all the way through to adult, with lots of opportunities for twinning and family matching! The real focus is on quality fabrics in stunning, unique prints that you just wouldn’t find on the high street.

I’m Katy and I run the business – my background is in PR, Events and Marketing which I still do bits and bobs of on a consultancy basis. I absolutely love designing and creating beautiful products for you and your family to enjoy. I genuinely do a little happy dance every single time an order comes through. I adore being a Mama to my two babies and I also love sunshine. And coffee. And cake. And Breton tops. And beaches. And rose gold jewellery. And wine. And dancing. And wine again.


What inspired you to start your creative business? How did it all begin?

After the birth of my amazing son Alfie and then three years later my beautiful Rainbow baby Evelyn Joy, I became obsessed with all things baby & child. Interiors, Clothes, Prints – you name it, I wanted it! After unsuccessfully looking for some stylish twinning leggings for myself and Evie, the idea for Mint Rainbow was born. I decided not to go back to my full time job in PR and instead started practised my sewing skills whilst freelancing. In October 2017, Mint Rainbow starting trading and we’ve gone from strength to strength since then. After a fantastic first 6 months of sales, we now even sell wholesale and have some physical shop stockists in the UK which is incredible. 

How has your business changed and developed since it started?

Mint Rainbow started out as an Etsy shop selling just matching Child & Adult Leggings and we quickly developed our own website and worked on growing our social media following which is now really established with a lovely group of engaged followers – hi everyone! Since the start we have also developed more products including accessories and some bump-to-beyond Mama products that are pregnancy and breastfeeding friendly. I’ve also taken on a seamstress to work with me – the lovely Nicola- as I just couldn’t pack it all into each day with my other work commitments and my little ones. 

 

So, where does all this takes place? What’s your workspace like?

My Mint Rainbow studio started life as one sewing machine in the spare room and is now a fully operating little sewing studio based in the roof room of our family home – super handy for squeezing in work during naptimes and making sure I’m on time for nursery runs. I try to hang up creative and motivational bits in the studio like cards and prints, and pictures that my son has made – and of course it is full of stunning and colourful fabrics! I’ve also got a beautiful vintage haberdashery unit that was my late Nanas and it’s the focus of much attention on my insta feed- it’s such a beautiful bit of furniture and I’m so lucky to have it! It’s packed to the rafters with off cuts and sewing tools – check it out on insta! 

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What are the best and worst bits of running your business?

The best thing is having full creative and logistical control of my work which means doing only the things you love, and flexibility to be with my children – I work most evenings after their bedtimes so that I don’t miss out on precious time when they’re so little.  I also love the creative side – developing new products, choosing fabrics, photography and designing PR and marketing materials.

The worst bit is the stress haha – when you are solely responsible from everything from the accounts to the product-making to the gift wrapping to the supplies ordering, it can somethings be a lot. But the benefits so outweigh the negatives so it’s all worth it. 

What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future?

I’m really just hoping that the business continues to grow as it has been and that it will get me to a point where I can give up working on other projects and focus fully on Mint Rainbow. We’re still not even one year old so I need to give it time and lots of tlc! In regards to the business itself, I have so many ideas for children’s accessories, bedding, prints, and lots more clothes of course! I also have some thoughts about some other strands which are more focussed around supporting and collaborating with mothers and creative working parents – I’d love to develop skill swap opportunities, Mama Meet Ups, maybe a blog and a pod cast etc – and weave this all under the Mint Rainbow umbrella somehow. All in good time of course!

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Since your business is based in Kent, we’d love to have your recommendation on any hidden places or favourite shops, tearooms or other creative places you like to visit.

Ooooh there are so many lovely places in Kent –

I work in Canterbury a few days a week and love Kitch for fresh and healthy food, Refectory Kitchen for coffee and also Curzon for great films and the lovely atmosphere.

For gorgeous baby gifts focussing on the unisex and the unique – check out Moo Like a Monkey in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter – they might happen to stock Mint Rainbow too.😉

Also in the Creative Quarter is the lovely café Steep Street where I can often be found with my laptop and a coffee.

We also love taking the family to Lathe Barn, which a really charming children’s play farm with a fantastic tearoom serving the best homemade cake in Kent. They also have some little craft units on site so it’s always nice to have a little browse in those!

Finally, where can we find you online if we want to keep in touch?

Instagram – @mintrainbow_shop

Facebook – @MintRainbowShop

Website – www.mintrainbow.co.uk

Do get in touch and say hello- we love a chat 😊 

Thanks so much for your time and chatting with you about your business!

Sunny day in Whitstable

Sunny day in Whitstable

Say that you’re going to Whitstable and before you can get past the end of the first sentence someone is bound to mention Oysters. And do you know why?

The height of the industry was in the mid Victorian era when millions of oysters were raised annually. The stretch of the harbour market is the best place to sample some local products although if you want to sample one of the Whitstable native variety you’ll have to wait until there’s an R in the month. I couldn’t wait and instead tried some of the Pacific oysters which are bred in tanks to maturity on beds in the shallows. They slipped down a treat with a dash of pepper – although like a pint of whelks, another one of my favourites – what is soft and succulent to one person – is all rubber to another.

The High Street reveals rows of neatly converted fisherman’s cottages, with attractive weatherboarding displays. Holiday lets abound in brightly coloured doorways. The town feels vibrant with a Sunday morning mix of day trippers and professional couples and local families enjoying a leisurely stroll in and out of the many alleyways and the narrow walks behind the seafront. Niche corners and nooks house niche shops and shabby chic is very much the order of the day. Drift amongst the driftwood and allow yourself to be amused by the inventiveness of the art in the beach huts

The diving suit was invented in Whitstable in 1828 and a steel divers helmet is on display in the harbour. We had a late breakfast in Tea & Times and amongst the art house paintings on the walls was one of a diver in a full diving suit with an umbrella!

But there is more to Whitstable than just oysters. In recent years the town has built up a deserved reputation for combining seafood with a thriving art and music scene. The Green Man festival on the first May Bank holiday sees the town dress up and welcome the start of the season with a wonderful mix of music, costume and an eclectic culture. That day it also hosts an annual 10k race which starts high above the town and then winds its way to Tankerton and through a holiday caravan park by the mudflats and then along the sea front coastal path back to finish by the main concourse. Tankerton’s grassy banks on the route along the coast east to Herne Bay are also home to several rare and protected species of plants and butterflies

It’s a good run out – especially when the sun is shining and the wind is on your back. I’ve been lucky enough to run in the last 2 races and the mass start, which amounts to a frenetic downhill charge, is truly a sight to behold. The smiling faces of the runners are somewhat more lined and weather beaten by the end of the race but it only adds to the overall atmosphere.

Boat building was one of Whitstable’s main industries until the early 20th century but more recently, it is the rows of highly prized wooden beach huts, set three deep in places on the banks out to Tankerton that attract most attention. Often brightly painted and individually decorated, the best situated ones are reputed to fetch upwards of £30,000 with a waiting list to rival those wanting to join Lords Cricket Club.

The original harbour was built by Thomas Telford in 1832 and the first railway station was actually inside the harbour gates – with a level crossing traversing the main Harbour street. This leads on nicely to the ‘Crab and Winkle’ way which was the first steam passenger railway, when it opened in 1830. Built by George and Robert Stephenson, the locomotive Invicta carried around 300 passengers the six miles to Canterbury. The train was to become the prototype for the famous Rocket which powered into history just four months later on the Liverpool to Manchester line. Finally closed in the 1950’s having carried its last passengers twenty years earlier, today the Crab and Winkle line has been restored as a walking and cycle path. The route takes in some delightful scenery through Clowes Wood, across ancient salt tracks, climbing Tyler Hill Tunnel and finishing near the Goods Shed in Canterbury. But don’t be fooled – it’s actually a gastronomic paradise. But if you’ve just walked along the whole way, you may want to eat more than just crab and winkle.

Tea & Chat with Klarity Marketing

Tea & Chat with Klarity Marketing

Hello! Great to have you here, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?

Just a good old cup of tea for me! I like it strong but milky. Big fan of Pluckley Tea from the Kent and Sussex Tea & Coffee Company.

 

So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

Well I’m a single mum with two kiddies who are aged 12 and 10. I live in Bearsted and set up my marketing consultancy business ‘Klarity Marketing’ five and half years ago. I’ve worked with a lot of Kent based artisans, mainly food and drink or retailers. I am a brand developer. I help turn products into brands and build brands so that consumers’ awareness and perception of them is improved. I tend to help with branding, marketing strategy and social media mainly.

 

What inspired you to start your own business?

For most of my career I’ve worked in a Brand Manager role for drinks companies which meant I looked after every element of the brand in the UK. As an example, I worked on Courvoisier cognac for two years and took it to the number one position in the UK in terms of market share, volume and value sales ….for the first time in the brand’s history! I was presented with a lovely bottle of very expensive Courvoisier cognac to celebrate this achievement! I left work for a few years to have children but when I returned, I felt that I could bring my big brand experience and expertise to smaller artisan producers/makers and retailers at an affordable price.

 

How did it all begin?

My first job was with a London based workplace fruit delivery service ‘Fruitdrop’ – the owner Ben had the idea, the supply chain, the vans to deliver but didn’t know quite how to approach the marketing. I wrote him a five year business plan and marketing strategy and his turnover grew from £79k a year to £650k a year in just under 2 years! He is now delivering nationally with a turnover, which I’m sure, exceeds £1.5m! So I knew I could help new and small businesses. I also worked with award winning local ice cream company, Simply Ice Cream for 3.5 years and created their marketing strategy, brand guidelines and managed their social media for 3 years. This helped them build a consistent image and perception online and helped to expand their business year on year.

 

I launched a secondary company back in 2010 which relied totally on social media to drive sales. It gave me the learning and confidence to use social media. Since then I have managed over 20 social media accounts for clients and hold small group social media training on behalf of Produced in Kent.

How has your business changed and developed since it started?

I started mainly helping companies with their marketing strategy and branding but demand soon led me to managing and teaching social media. As I have two children and my work hours during the week are limited so I am shifting my teaching/coaching online and will be launching an online programme called ‘Shine Online’ in the Autumn which will help teach artisan producers/crafters/artists how to showcase their beautiful products, grow and build their brand awareness and perception and have a consistent strong brand that shines online! I will teach, coach, support and provide valuable advice and tips on branding, social media, websites and photography and will be getting other experts involved so we have their brains and advice too! I’m so looking forward to it!

 

So, where does all this take place? What’s your workspace like?

I spent 5 months renovated my house which involved knocking down some walls to create a big kitchen/diner. I’ve always wanted a long table so I can entertain friends and their children so I work at one end of that table and then clear my laptop away when I have lots of people for dinner! I may put a cabin in the back garden one day but I like the warmth of the house. It’s also nice having the cats for company and the kettle to hand!

 

What are the best and worst bits of running your business?

The best bits are that I love what I do. I love working with new people and love handmade food and products. I am a keep supporter of buying locally and love my local Farmers Market on Bearsted Green! The worst bits are that my work hours are limited – I still have to spend time each day doing the school run, food shopping and doing household chores (which I hate!) but my new way of teaching will be so flexible that I will be able to help more people in fewer hours and offer my knowledge and experience at a very affordable price.

 

What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future?

I’d hoping that my online coaching business will take off so that I can help artisans outside of Kent. It would be amazing to think that I could help people all over the world too!

 

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Finally, where can we find you online if we want to keep in touch?

Twitter – https://twitter.com/lisafromklarity

Instagram – https://instagram.com/lisafromklarity/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KlarityMarketing

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/lisafromklarity/

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisajaneklarity

My website is being redesigned at the moment but is www.klaritymarketing.co.uk

 

Thanks so much for your time and chatting to you about your business!

Thank you! I love that you are bringing such talented people together under one roof J

Walk from St.Margaret’s to Dover

What’s the closest point on the English coast to France? Wrong! It’s not Dover, but actually St Margaret’s Bay, a spot about three miles north and east of the famous ferry port. The Bay and the nearby pretty little village of St Margaret’s at Cliffe was the starting point for our recent walk along the White Cliffs with Calais shimmering in the haze across the 18 miles of the Channel that separates England from France.

 

We had intended to start the walk at the White Cliff’s Visitor Centre in Dover but my navigation took us off the A2 early which was fortuitous as not only is St Margaret’s at Cliffe worth a visit in its own right but it also has a free car park. When out for the day, Magdalena’s logic is that any money saved from entrance fees or in this case car parking should be spent on ‘appropriate provisions’ for the journey. And as soon as possible, which is why she made an immediate bee-line for a local shop and boosted its sales with a bottle of water and an raspberry ice lolly. At least she got to taste the lolly which is more that can be said for my purchase of a Soreen malted loaf. But more (or should that be less) of that later.

 

Magdalena may have been quick but Vodaphone were even quicker in texting to inform me that I was now in France and different charge rates applied. Toute suite indeed but at least stocked up with provisions we were pret a manger!

Various informative display boards told us a little of the village, the Norman church and its previous famous inhabitants. It seemed Ian Fleming sold a house to Noel Coward nearby. Maybe they swopped stories on a summer day’s looking out to sea?

Any need for paperwork, Ian?’ –

‘No, Noel, as you know, my Bond is my word!’

Fleming would then call for a Martini shaken not stirred, but Coward would be already heading inside for the shade of the veranda, declaring that he wouldn’t give a mad dog for an Englishman out in the midday sun.

 

Peter Cushing was also a frequent visitor to St Margaret’s but his house was more likely to have been a Hammer House of Horror and probably perched high on a hill, off the beaten track and in need of some tender loving care – as the local estate agent might have put it.

After looking around the village for a while and noting the Cliffe Tavern as nice place to eat in the evening, we walked down towards the Bay. You can lengthen the walk by following the signs and heading west to take in the Dover Memorial monument.

Halfway down to the coast, nestled into the cliffs is the environmentally friendly Pine Garden area with six acres of gently undulating parkland and garden features and a tea house and museum across the path. Fronted by huge pine trees, it’s an ideal secluded place to stop for a while, but having visited before, we pressed on to the Bay itself which is where Channel swimmers take their first or last dip in the water.

 

The proximity of the continent gives the coastline and the surrounding cliffs a special feel and retracing our steps back up the hill, we found the chalk of the White Cliffs trail and the tranquil gardens were quickly replaced by coarse grass and windswept trees, braced by the constant buffeting of the Channel cross winds.

 

There are several walks across the cliffs and a variety of walks and walkers criss- cross the coastline. So soon after VE day, it seemed strangely appropriate to hear both French and German voices carrying across on the currents. The great thing about the cliff top walk is that there is no single cliff but a series of protruding ledges some more precipitous than others but most journeys pass by South Foreland Lighthouse, now owned by National Trust.

On a sunny day, its gleaming white exterior bids a cheerful welcome and Mrs Knott’s tea room inside offers a selection of cakes and bakes as well as an equally welcome comfort break from the wind. Named after the wife of the last lighthouse master, the tea rooms retain much of their original period décor and we weren’t the only couple to take photos of the quaint porcelain cups and china tea pots.

 

The tea stand had copies of old newspapers and commemorative issues of royal celebrations and I drank my speciality tea reading the Daily Telegraph’s account of the historic landing of the first man on the moon in 1969. Then I found the cricket pages and the report of Hampshire’s not so historic victory over Surrey in the John Player League somehow occupied my attention until Magdalena declared it was time to go.

 

After walking a little while longer, we ate our sandwiches tucked into a slightly less windy spot and I discovered that my pack of Soreen had somehow fallen out of my bag, perhaps when we were looking at maps earlier on the way. I hope it was picked by animal or human and went to a good home. Either way, both my bag and my stomach were a little lighter for its passing.

 

Over the next hill, down below we saw Dover harbour and out to sea the steady stream of ferries sedately crossing the channel. We were now walking across Langdon cliffs. Having read up a little bit before the trip, I knew this was the place to see Exmoor ponies and when we fell into conversation with a local woman bemoaning the state of shopping in Dover I asked about the ponies if only to change the subject. She promptly declared that she had been coming to this spot for many years but had never seen any ponies – despite the fact that a nearby display featured equine drawings.

 

Eventually our longer legs took us ahead of the woman and round the next bay several distinctive black ponies duly appeared on higher hilly ground close to us. I looked round and spotted the woman on the trail below. We decided not to hang around to share this happy moment and perhaps the ponies left before she arrived leaving only enough evidence of their droppings. That and the realisation if you look out to sea for France you aren’t going to sea ponies or even see Exmoor Ponies on land.

 

There’s a car park just before the White Cliffs Visitor Experience. At the back somewhat out of site, there’s also a display board unhelpfully facing away from the path and towards the terraces. It informs visitors that they are standing on what was once a prison, built in 1884 for convicts to help in the construction of the port. In 1908 the prison was converted into army barracks. On this sober note, Magdalena quickly headed back into the sanctuary of the tea room for more rations of an altogether different kind.

 

The great thing about turning round and retracing your steps is that you get to see and experience all the things you missed first time round. And so on our return journey, we took a slightly different route and spotted lumps of coal from seams buried deep under the chalk and evidence of rail sleepers still protruding from the soil to transport the coal to the harbour at Dover.

 

We saw the white windmill behind the lighthouse with a revolving cap that turned towards the wind, built as late as 1929 – the last windmill to be built in Kent. We saw the work that has begun to restore and open to the public Deep Fan Bay Shelter which provided wartime accommodation for hundreds of soldiers of the Fan Bay gun battery.

 

In short, we began to truly experience the myriad of human endeavours across the cliffs and across the ages to use the natural environment of the White Cliffs for profit, or defence or to just live between the cliff and the coast, between chalk and coal, in peace and in war. We saw lots of things but we never saw my pack of Soreen.

Tea & Chat with ‘Simply Ice Cream’

Tea & Chat with ‘Simply Ice Cream’

Hello! Great to have you here, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?

A cup of tea would be lovely!

So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

Well my name is Sally Newall, I am 46 years old and I run a business making handmade ice cream near Ashford, Kent called Simply Ice Cream. I have been married to Robin for coming up to 19 years and we have 4 children, Jess 17, Matt 15, Tash 13 and William who’s 11

What inspired you to start your creative business?

I have always been into cooking, I travelled to Australia when I was 18 and ended up living there for 5 years where I trained as a chef, completed a business course and trained as an aerobics instructor! When I came back to the UK I took over from my mother’s business partner in the catering business she had been running since 1986. We had so many guests ask where they could buy the ice cream we were serving as dessert that I thought it would be a good idea to start making it in pots to sell into retail. The idea was that by selling a product into retail we could cut back on the catering so that I could spend more time with my husband and children on the weekends. However that has never panned out as I hadn’t realised how much marketing, PR, Sampling, attending events etc we would have to do on weekends to build brand awareness and expose the product to as many people as possible.

How did it all begin?

I set the ice cream company up in Oct 2005. Initially we trialled it in a local farm shop for 6 months from October to March – in retrospect it was a very strange time of year to launch!! However despite a very cold winter it did sell and so we then approached 3 other farm shops in 2006. We were selling the ice cream in 4 flavours to start with, honeycomb, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. We now have over 32 flavours selling into retail which includes a range of sorbets.

How has your business changed and developed since it started?

From that 1 farm shop we are now sold in Waitrose across the UK, supply around 350 outlets across the South East with our own distribution and also supply through distributors. We supply farmshops, delis, tourist attractions, theatres, airlines and food service outlets. We also supply Cook Food with their own label ice cream and late last year signed a contract with the Middle East to send product over to Saudi which is really exciting.

 

So, where does all this take place? What’s your workspace like?

When we first set up we worked from my kitchen but as the business grew we converted two large rooms in our house into a factory space. This is self-contained and not accessible from the house now. We have one room dedicated to production and the other is an office with storage!

What are the best and worst bits of running your business?

We have recently restructured the business which has been amazing. For the last 8 years my husband and I had been working up to 18 hours a day at times. (Robin helps out when he gets back from work but doesn’t work in the business on a day to day basis) the restructure means that we are gradually getting a little bit of our lives back. I am really lucky in that with the restructure we now have dedicated staff in various positions that are all doing a fantastic job. You can’t run a small business without good staff and my staff are wonderful!! I now have time to work on the business again and its future growth. Working in the freezer is probably my least favourite job but going to events and hearing feedback or getting an email from a fan makes everything worth it.

What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future?

Our aim is to continue growing the business. We are passionate about getting the ice cream out to as much of the UK and beyond as possible. It’s a very indulgent ice cream and unlike anything else on the market. We think everyone should try it!

 

Finally, where can we find you online if we want to keep in touch?

 

We are on Instagram @Simplyicecreamkent, Twitter @SimplyIceCream, Facebook – Simply Ice Cream, info@simplyicecream.co.uk and www.simplyicecream.co.uk

Thanks so much for your time and chatting to you about your business!