Happy & Glorious is now ten years old!
From humble beginnings setting up my website from my bedroom, it feels both an incredibly long time ago and incredibly recent.
2011 was not the easiest year for me. Nothing went particularly wrong, but some tricky financial issues, less than ideal living conditions and trouble at work left me feeling low. I decided to make changes for the new year and set myself the challenge of trying new things, saying yes more and pushing the edges of my comfort zone. I bought an aquarium, which was a way of giving myself something to nurture. I signed up to do some background artist work, did a sponsored walk at night, and asked my friends to dress as pirates for a night out. Nothing particularly difficult or adrenaline fueled, but just enough to help me to lift myself out of my low mood.
I had worked in independent retail throughout A Levels, my degree and beyond, and decided at age 17 that it was the career for me. I loved that every day was different, that there was always something to do, and that the work that I did could have instant, measurable results. 2012 was the year Mary Portas released her ‘Bottom Line’ television programme, about the importance of reinvigorating the British manufacturing industry, and my work in retail had made her a hero of mine.
On 15th July 2012, I decided that ‘one day’ I would open my own shop. It would sell British made gifts, and be called Happy & Glorious, inspired by a throwaway comment that I heard on the radio. I mentioned it to my parents, who responded positively. I went home, bought the domain name, set up the social media accounts, enquired with several potential stockists and applied for a ticket to my first trade show! I launched on 28th August, just 44 days later.
I worked in the evenings, on weekends, and during annual leave. In 2013, I exhibited at my first gift fair, and a year later I signed up for some pop up shops, one with in Ashford, with a council backed scheme, and one in Tunbridge Wells with Appear Here. I started H&G parties in people’s homes and gardens in 2015, and rented a studio, where I started to design my own products. It was from here that I was invited to rent a high street shop in Ashford for a year.
Ashford in Kent was chosen as a Portas Pilot town, a place that received investment for regeneration. The council had bought a shopping centre and were renting out the spaces to independent businesses, and they offered me a tiny shop to rent. It was the perfect opportunity to leave my office job, take the leap and test the high street!
I moved into my Ashford shop in December 2015, and was so excited to be able to finally launch onto the high street. The shopping centre was full of like-minded creative people, and it was wonderful to be able to spend time with them and brainstorm ideas to boost footfall and sales. We formed the Healthy High Street team, and met regularly in the newest coffee shops to discuss our plans. Bloggers’ days, Halloween spectaculars, and late night openings all proved very successful.
Once my year in Ashford was up, I started looking for a larger unit, and one came up in Cranbrook; the town where I went to school. In a gorgeous 15th Century space, with a stunning original ceiling and an enormous window, it felt like the perfect place to continue the Happy & Glorious journey. This beautiful shop has seen me through over five years and a great deal of ups and downs.
In 2018, having been cheerfully single for over a decade, (with no intention of changing this!) I met James, an amateur baker and jolly good egg, who lives with his children in Canterbury. James and I pinpointed 2022 the year that we would buy a house together. It needed to be in Canterbury so that the children could be near both of their parents and their schools, and the city holds a special place for me, as I used to travel there as a teenager and spend the day mooching around the shops and cafes there. We saved hard, and are about to complete on our first home.
In summer 2021, I jokingly pointed out a shop in Burgate, Canterbury and stated that if I ever had a shop there, that would be the one. A good sized window, with a door to the side, so I wouldn't need to install two window displays at a time. A great location, just a few doors down from the cathedral gate, and in a street full of indie businesses. James and the children started referring to it as my shop from that point on! In September that year it became empty, and November, it came up for rent. Nine months and a LOT of negotiating and chasing solicitors later, it's now mine, and Happy & Glorious will be opening there in early October, all being well.
I will miss my Cranbrook shop and all of my lovely, loyal and kindhearted customers, but I am looking forward to the next chapter in H&G's story. The Canterbury shop is a much larger, more practical space, with plenty of room for creative workshops, plus a staff room, and a studio/office for me to work on all of my big plans. I'm excited for the next ten years!