Wahoo! Welcome to our second ever blog! Neither Corinne or myself are natural writers and always place said tasks under the 'think-about-it-later' “admin” category. However, I have vowed (and been pestered endlessly by my web designer husband) to write a blog and what easier thing to talk about than my life for the past year and a half.
As this is our first (proper) post I will give you a brief summary of the time gone by. After so much talking in December 2016, Corinne and I officially founded Jackson & Young Ltd. One of the best parts of all was actually finding each other in the first place; we are so so lucky in that respect as we have both admitted we wouldn’t have wanted to do it alone. Fate truly did bring us together as we spent many an hour talking of our dreams and aspirations, only to find out they are exactly the same!
We have the same vision and thought process to the extent that it is sometimes creepy. Although it’s also the best feeling in the world to be sharing this experience with a best friend.
Having each other gave us the courage to just go for it and, along with the massive help from Corinne’s dad, (and shout out to Sean and his parents) we opened the doors to Jackson and Young – artists printers, gallery and studio in April 2017.
Alas, it was not quite as simple as deciding one day to open a shop. Along with the mountains of life changing decisions to make – Will people actually buy our work? Will we lose everything? What is a business plan!? A few days before signing the shop lease I found out that I was pregnant.
"Be brave and good things will come."
It’s safe to say that this was one of the most heart wrenching, emotional times of my life. Everything was going so well and my dreams were literally coming true, but how could I go through with this if I had a baby? How can I run a business and be a new first-time mum? How can I expect Corinne to stand by this and take on all the first year craziness whilst I sit at home destroyed, physically and mentally with the guilt outweighing them both? Anyway, we did, Corinne did. It was our ‘now or never’ opportunity and we haven’t looked back.
The first year was our ‘getting our feet under the table’ year. We were both working two jobs and having 6/7 day weeks, working flat out late into the evenings - thank god for the chip shop around the corner! It didn’t feel like work so much being in our gallery, but it was definitely tiring. 4.5 months after opening I left to go on maternity leave.
A long time after that was a blur for me. After a difficult labour and recovery all I could do was be there for Corinne on the other end of the phone but she was still in the gallery working the 7 day weeks with no breaks. For both of us in very different ways it was a very draining time but every single sale and every new business lead gave us a boost to keep going and we knew we would come out the other side.
Corinne took on portrait commissions to keep the money up during the quieter times and our regular client base grew for scanning and prints.
By the time Christmas came around I was able to help with the markets and start creating new pieces. Christmas was mental.
A big part of the business which is obvious but not always considered is that we have to make everything that we sell. We don’t sell other people’s artwork for commission as our space isn’t large enough, so, if we aren’t making new artwork, we aren’t making money. This was part of the business that we had to think strongly about and that’s why we opted to provide a quality scanning and printing service for other artists, as well as there being a bit of a lack in the market around Barnstaple and in North Devon in general.
We thought we knew what there was to know about this area. Corinne having scanned and printed her dads’ large artworks for years and us both using the equipment for our own work, but it turned out that we didn’t. We would sometimes have to spend days on one seemingly small simple order, shattering any glimpse of profit as the hundredth inky sheet came out with the slightly wrong shade of green this time.
As artists ourselves we always stayed true to providing the best possible reproductions, using only the best quality Epson inks and equipment but let alone the time spent away from painting, the wastage at times was huge.
Practice and experience over time help, like with anything, and it’s not such a daunting prospect but we have had to re evaluate the services that we offer- realising that our time has more value spent on artwork.
In April we celebrated our one year anniversary and my official return to work. We could make solid plans for the time ahead and they were exciting!
We are constantly thinking of new ways to grow our business and broaden our reach. We so often hear “my mum has this in her living room” referring to one of our prints as they walk by, which is a wonderful thought, but also the knowing that we have maybe saturated the audience of our small market town. Through marketing we have been taken on by some wonderful galleries that we are so proud to be a part of, advancing our vision again to focus on being fine artists and becoming more of a studio / gallery.
Rupert (my son) has been a part of the Jackson & Young story from the beginning and a reason that makes our journey so special. From his first visit to meet Corinne in the gallery to him waving at passers by through the window on his Wednesdays in work with me, these are the memories that will last a life time and I couldn't imagine it any other way. It has not been easy but the good times wouldn't mean so much if it had been.
Doing what we love
Some days we might take £1200 other days £30 and some days £0 but we have had to learn to take the rough with the smooth and it always works out alright in the end. Neither of us are particularly business minded but we are most definitely passionate about what we do and I think that is enough.
Our goal now is to work in a larger space where we can both work together (sometimes it can be very lonely and uninspiring on your own all day) with fresh work that we supply to our increasing collection of galleries.
Thank you very much for reading and much love,
P.S. I also managed to squeeze in getting married in those 18 months but I'm keeping my art name!
"If you have any questions or would like to know more about running your own gallery then please leave your comments below and I'll do my best to help."