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!

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

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!

 

A day at Ramsgate Festival 2016

A day at Ramsgate Festival 2016

It was Sunday 31 July, the last day of the 7th annual Ramsgate Festival 2016 and we’d been meaning to visit since the start. Expanded this year from a long weekend event to take in Ramsgate Regatta week, and other local events, the Festival started on Friday 23 July with a Littoral light exhibition on the seashore. This combined low tide with sunset to showcase improvised art and sculpture installations in a truly natural and local setting: white cliffs replacing the white walls of the safety of the studio.

The finale was played out a full nine days later to the pulsating rhythms of Rio as the Rhythms of the City band took the enthusiastic audience to the beaches of Brazil and back; creating their very own brand of Ramsgate rhumba. The festival atmosphere was more than completed by four exotic dancing ladies, dressed in stunning carnival costumes, topped with brightly coloured plumage and spectacular headdresses.

In between there was foraging trips on the seashore, all manner of creative workshops, sea life parades, talks and lectures with nautical themes, a celebration of local legends such as the Ramsgate Whale, as well as the Food and Arts & Crafts festival, not to mention, opera on the beach.

Catching up with Ramsgate Arts organiser Suzy

I caught up with Ramsgate Arts organiser Suzy Humphries outside the Victorian Custom House which overlooks the Royal Harbour.  It was an appropriate place to meet as the recent mixed fortunes of the grand building seem to sum up all that is good about the regeneration of Ramsgate.  Closed to the public until relatively recently, it now proudly hosts the Visitor Information Centre and a cafeteria as well as the Town Council and the RNLI.

Suzy’s helped run Ramsgate Arts for the last five years or so, and seen it and the Festival develop, in tandem. It takes up to six months of the year to help organise the arts side of things, all on a voluntary basis. A kick starter crowd funding initiative to raise the final 3k of the 10k or so, needed to fund the festival had only just been reached in time, but Suzy seemed to take these things in her stride.  She even smiled when she told me that the council had revoked at the last minute permission to finish the festival with a celebratory bonfire, citing the granting of a permit to a company to film on the beach. Co-operation with the town council had, though, led to funding and a brief to utilise previously ‘unloved’ spaces in the town such as Charlotte Court, and instill a more artistic touch to the surroundings.

When we visited later, we saw a game of boules taking place in the sand and several niche boutique shops in the square on the site of the old police station and pub.

A little detour to Nice Things

Suzy set up and runs Nice Things, a shop also in the Custom House which opened in 2010.  It sells ‘nice things well-made by real people, focusing on local talent and always with a unique charm.’  She explained that by 2012, she had over-run the space in the shop and started a monthly market just across the road by the Royal Harbour.  It may have been a short step but it was a long journey. Originally the shop had more of a gallery feel, but Suzy works with around 25 makers, around 80% who live or work locally, and all the goods are totally handmade.  Work is displayed on a sale or return basis.

Ramsgate Nice Things Shop

The shop hosts work from around 12-15 makers at any one time and collections are often rotated on a 4-6 week basis with artists taking it in turns to help staff the shop.  Suzy takes an active role in sourcing and promoting local talent as well as working with local artists to help them develop their work and ideas so that they can be accessible.

Wearing her high vis organiser’s vest, we left Suzy cheerfully sorting out a request for a ladder, and talking to traffic marshals and took up her invitation to step inside Nice Things.

The shop certainly lives up to its title. It’s a cosy little well managed space, and Irene Reyagin, who herself makes hand embroided decorative woollen yarns, took us through some of the many creative collections on display in cabinets, tables, on the walls and practically anywhere space allows.

Laura Dent’s vivid collection of textile mermaids and faeries immediately attracted the eye. Dressed in a range of various outfits from pirate black to glittering colourful party ball gowns, their various poses and exquisite attention to detail raised an appreciate chuckle and nod of admiration.

Displayed on the wall was Melanie Tong’s shoal of silver painted wire fish.  Other blue and orange ceramic fish floated by our eyes, as did the work of a selection of local talented painters and print makers such as Pru Cross, Rose Dickenson and Mike Childs.

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We could have stayed and lingered for hours, but dragged ourselves away and ventured outside again to visit the stalls of the Feast of Food and Craft Festival lining the Royal Harbour. Talking with the owners some were regulars of the monthly market but many had come to the Festival for the first time.

The highlights were wonderful cupcake creations from Martello, tropical and marine soap combinations and flavours from Janice Gibbs which were well suited to their harbour setting. Lola’s old fashioned food van was doing brisk business while the huge whole hog roast was lazily turning over on its spit; fat cracking on the charcoal fire. It must have been the heat…

Ramsgate Festival Lola's Vintage Van

Martello Cakes

Deliciously looking (and tasting!) cupcakes.

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IVY makes

Unique handmade jewellery

Maporabilia

Repurposing old maps and postcards

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Melanies Creations

Bespoke handmade cards

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Matt Dawson

Photography, cards and prints

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MD/ARTIST

Original paintings and cards

The Festival has taken in the whole town and it seems that the town had taken to the many events on show in equal measure. It was time stretch our legs and our visual imagination and visit Arch 18, Military Road, underneath the rising bridge on the road to Pegwell Bay and Silverland Studios.  It’s the home of painter Joe Allen and painter and print-maker Christine Henn. You are welcome to find out more about their workshops and what they do on their website here.

Their ‘The Sea Brings Life’ exhibition had been running during the Festival. They also run evening classes and will be running public painting courses during the year.

We climbed upstairs and admired Christine’s five painted landscapes made from natural fibres and inspired by the Red Sea and more local vistas. I’d read the programme notes downstairs and noted that there were six paintings on display. Where was the sixth, I wondered? Christine told me to step back and gently guided my eyes straight ahead to the front arch overlooking the harbour. There in front of me, was a long narrow post box type slit across a canvass between the window.

Outside I could see that the sea does bring life. A yacht sailed into view and then I noticed the clouds re-forming into different shapes.

Christine had cleverly created an ever changing landscape before my very own eyes.

We wandered back to the UK’s only Royal Harbour, an honour granted by a grateful George IV in 1821, in return for the sort of hospitality now shown during Festival Week.

Braceman was finishing his cool funky groove vibes. The sun hadn’t quite set but by now the stage was set for the glorious finale. A cacophony of carnival music provided by Rhythms of the City decked out in their blue t-shirts and white trousers. This was percussion of every conceivable size and shape from the 30 strong member band. The sound could probably have been heard across Pegwell Bay in Sandwich. The only whistles were ones of encouragement. Lilting it may have been to start with but it finished with a rum punch of kick helped along by the long legged Rio style carnival dancers.

All, in all, it may have been an Olympian task to organise. But on a shoreline which has had its fair share of shipwrecks, Ramsgate Festival rocks where others might flounder. Bring on the bonfire next year!

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