2017 ~ What a year!

What a busy year 2017 has been, and I know I am not alone in saying that the last twelve months have just flown by! As we are now at the start of 2018 (which I know will be one of the most amazing, terrifying and exciting years of my life) I thought I would look back over 2017 to see how far we have come in the journey of building our business.

Back in January 2017 opening our shop still seemed like a distant dream. We were fast approaching the second anniversary of our initial purchase offer. Our lives seemed like they were in limbo, constantly waiting for the go ahead from the solicitors. It seemed never ending, but we had invested so much time and effort that we felt we couldn’t just walk away. I have to admit that there were times that Paul and I did consider whether we were doing the right thing, but I am so glad we stuck with it, because on 12 March 2017, we collected the keys to our (soon to be) shop.

I remember the first day we walked in to 2 West Street; it was so surreal! We had visited many times over the course of the two years, but to think it was finally ours was very strange. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I believe it, even now. I don’t think it will really sink in until it is actually happening, until I have packed up my day job and we open the doors to Varoshe ~ Bespoke Jewellery.

We started work the very first day, changing the locks and starting to demolish the police counter. I think Paul was so keen to get started after two long years of planning and waiting. At last, our dream was one step closer, but little did we know just how much work was still to come…

Showroom, day 1.jpg

We always knew the building was ‘in a state’, the surveyor had hinted as much, but until we started removing the old, rotten wall and floor coverings we didn’t realise the extent of the neglect. Most of the plaster boarding crumbled off the walls, and the floor joists were completely rotten. You could literally break them apart with your fingertips! The more we uncovered, the more decay was revealed. Although Paul didn’t seem phased by any of it, I have to admit that I was shocked at the state of things. I guess, more than anything, I was upset that this once beautiful building was just locked up and left to slowly crumble.

Once all of the rotten, damp and broken materials were removed (around 250 rubble sacks full), the rebuild could begin. Over the course of the next six months, the walls and floors would be dried out, the rotten materials would be replaced, the back wall would be re-rendered and the old wiring and pipe work would be upgraded. Things did take longer than we would have liked, but if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right!

Showroom, demolition.jpg

Our original opening date of October came and went and still the restoration continued. This mammoth project has been a real labour of love, trying to juggle full-time jobs, with every spare waking moment spent building (either literally, or on the computer concentrating on the business side of things). Last night I asked Paul, “If you had known just how much work there was to do, would you still have wanted to go for it?” His response, “Of course, I love it, and I know it will be great once it’s finished!”

After all the incredible restoration work that has been done so far, we are still a little way off completion, but I am pleased to say that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel; we have actually started selecting paint colours! As we slowly work our way down the to-do list, things should start to fall in to place. This morning we wrote the ‘Final List’, trying to prioritise the jobs still left to do as we come in to the home stretch of the build. Over the next few weeks you will probably start to see things being moved in to the (soon to be) Varoshe showroom; whether it be gallons and gallons of paint, an array of lights, an eclectic mix of display cabinets, or the copious amount of hand tools which Paul insists he ‘needs’. 2018 is sure to be a busy one, and if it is anything like the last twelve months it is bound to be amazing.

Looking forward to seeing you in West Malling really soon.

 Clare X