17 August 2013

The Ruby Orchard - The story so far.

When people come into The Ruby Orchard they are amazed by our range of products, unique furniture and just lovely things.  I always get asked what I did before I started the shop.  You would never guess.  I grew up on a dairy farm and went to school in a small market town in Devon, South west England. Growing up I loved sport and competed in every team I could. I went on to study Sports Science at Loughborough University and then trained to be a PE teacher.   I got a job at the school I went to (a little weird I know, I was working alongside teachers who once taught me).  I climbed the career ladder quickly securing a post at another state secondary school as Head of PE and then Director of Sport.  I loved my job. The people I worked with during my teaching years are now my best friends.  However, I didn’t love the hours, the marking, the pressure of exam results, covering staff absences and driving mini bus loads of students to fixtures after hours.
I married a South African shoe guru, we had a beautiful country cottage and wonderful friends and my family were close by.  Falling pregnant and having our gorgeous little boy Jonah (now 2) was the turning point.
Decision made, we would rent out our house, and join Greg’s family in Howick, South Africa.  We would go for a year, if it didn’t work out, we would come back, what did we have to lose?  Although family were devastated, I kept telling myself that I cannot wake up when I am 50 and wonder ‘what if?’
June 2012 we landed in Durban with a suitcase each, a tired 1 year old and our adventure began.  Greg started work straight away and was busy learning the family business.  I was planning on being a full time mum in the Midlands sunshine.   I love living on the Midlands Meander. I started to get more involved in one aspect of the family business - picture framing. However, it didn’t excite or inspire me.
I was amazed in South Africa at the number of locally designed and produced products, I loved them.  But at the same time I missed my favourite little shops, products and brands from the UK.  The framing shop was sad, tired and a little brown.  I starting hunting for suppliers of Emma Bridegewater,  Cath Kidston, Ulster weavers, Hope & Greenwood, Tala, Meri Meri… some we found, others not.  Orders were placed – exciting!
A week repainting the picture framing shop, erecting rusty corrugated iron sheets, scavenging for old work benches, cupboards and  wooden trunks and the shop was starting to look a little more like the images I had in my mind.   A shop I had visited in the UK had chunky 'A' frame display shelving… on our trip back to Devon I took pictures and voila a handy friend replicated them for us. 
We now had a shop, but it needed an identity.  A name that belonged to nothing else, one that makes you stop and wonder.   Little England, Paper Moon, All wrapped up, Inside Out, Place settings all made the short list.  The Ruby Orchard repeatedly came back to me and to the top of the list.  Shop named.   Logo and signage designed by a clever friend, it was all coming together.
So… that is it so far.  The Ruby Orchard has now been running for about 7 months.  Our facebook page has brought people from all over the Country to visit us.  The Karkloof farmers market every Saturday (just up the road) brings people straight past our door. 
Here I aim to tell you about our products, people who supply us, ideas I have, things I have seen, our customers, what is selling, what is not, our events, our staff, our future projects and anything else really! 
The Ruby Orchard - Just lovely things...

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