With Rosewill Cottage due to celebrate its first birthday in October, I thought I should take you on a frank and honest account of my journey in the year in the life as a Mumpreneur.

I’ve learnt a lot over the last year. It wasn’t just a steep learning curve but an almost vertical climb instead, so where do you start?

In September, I had recently launched the new website for Rosewill’s Charms, my jewellery range which was featured in the Daily Mail after I designed some accessories and jewellery for Adam Rickitt, who was re-launching his pop career at G-A-Y in London. I was also desperately waiting to find out when I could pick up the keys to what was to become Rosewill Cottage and amongst all the chaos my son started his own little adventure into secondary school and my daughter started stage school.

I opened Rosewill Cottage which is based on Park View, Whitley Bay on Saturday 23 October after decorating, fitting out and stocking the shop. It was an amazing feeling and great to see the support from friends, family and The Journal who made me the front page of their business section. Now the journey throughout the year has been really tough and going into retail is certainly not for the faint hearted.

My marketing degree helped me quickly realise the potential of birthday parties so this was the first additional service we expanded into shortly followed by our workshop programme. The demand for affordable repairs of costume jewellery came to the fore around the Christmas time and from then we offered the service to repair, restring and recycle jewellery pieces. 

In February, I became an Educational Partnerships Business Ambassador for North Tyneside Council. This was an amazing opportunity which saw me and my team work with art and design apprentices aged around 16 years old from three schools in the North Tyneside Area on a fictional project to design some jewellery for Princess Beatrice to wear at the Royal Wedding.

This programme was recently adapted and transferred into workshops for elders from The Grange in Throckley which was extremely reward especially as some ladies had visual impairment, dementia or short attention spans. However they all left with a fantastic piece of jewellery. Plus we can show that no matter how young or old a person is we can help them to create jewellery.

In March, I realised that things were petering out slightly which I put down to the large craft fair at the Metro Radio Arena plus various other bead exhibitions which were going on in the area. This was very disappointing and worrying. All those plans and speculation I had on the business plan for growth went to the dogs and before you know it I had to network like a crazy lady, diversify or ditch the dream. I decided on the first two options.

After a lot of soul searching “Rent a Square” was born. This is a scheme was launched to help other small business display their handcrafted items in a shop environment. The squares are 33cmx33cm and can be booked in the shop window at the small cost of £10 per week or within the shop on a unit next to the till for £5 per week. With 100% of the proceeds from the sale of their goods going direct to the individual/company renting the square.

I launched this scheme on Facebook and had a great response from the people who like the Rosewill Cottage page, but I still had a lot of spots to fill. A couple of days later a light bulb went off in my head and I promoted the scheme on a brand new thread in a UK craft forum. I was amazed at the response I had to buy in new shelving to cope with the demand and the amount of online exposure I receive was fantastic. It vastly increased the traffic on my website, likes on my facebook jumped up to over 1500, I received mentions in various blogs and websites; and I gathered a lot of twitter followers on the way.

This Rent a Square publicity also had a double edge to the sword. Lots of people who lived in the North East found about a bead shop in Whitley Bay which rented squares. This raised the profile of the shop and saw sales double and then increase steadily over the last few months. All of a sudden Rosewill Cottage became “the” destination for beads, findings and charms which is what I always wanted it to be.

Since starting the Rent a Square scheme, fourteen crafters renting a square in the window and over eighty people renting a square inside the shop making a total of nearly 100 small businesses taking part in the scheme.With interest being shown by more people on a daily basis this scheme it is proving to be a great success.

At the moment the shop is doing extremely well. With over 53 active squares the vast array of creativity from the people renting the squares is becoming a miniature craft market in it's own right. I’ve had enough cash flow to introduce new lines of beads, we’ve recently been accepted to sell jewellery making magazines and been accepted into the Professional Crafters Guild.

The best news is we’ve been nominated for the “What’s on 4 me?” awards for our workshops and parties.

It’s important to remember that many businesses don’t get past the first year so I’m extremely pleased with how the shop has developed over the course of a year. I certainly couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of my two shop managers Sarah-Jane Walker and Katie Daley. We’re all gearing up something special to celebrate our first birthday in style on Saturday, 22 October come and join us!