We’re quite a cheerful bunch here, and fairly easily pleased. We look forward to our coffee in the morning. The purchase of fancy biscuits. Chocolate. Inca, the dog, looks forward to the arrival of the postman. She also likes lunchtime. Generally, we are all quite simple souls.
However one thing does get the office all in a dither, and it happens every 6 months or so. It’s the arrival of the new season wellies. If you weren’t aware, my background was in fashion and somehow, the seasonal element of new ranges made sense to me when the Welly Range took off.
At the beginning of February I went off on a rare, but essential, painting trip for a couple of days. It sounds idyllic, as I go to stay in a cottage on the Isle of Wight to paint. I think the team imagine that I float away, like a zen goddess, and surround myself with candles, eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate, wafting paintbrushes about a bit.
I thought I could do a bit of a write-up this time to dispel this myth, and also give you all a bit of a day-in-the-life type story.
The reality isn’t as they imagine at all, I work for 17 hours a day and eat ready meals. I sketch, paint, sketch, paint, and repeat.
The February trip this year was to work on the Spring/Summer Welly Boot Collection, Mother’s Day and a few other goodies that we will be bringing out soon (very exciting!).
You may have noticed that the weather has been less than kind recently, so actually a boat trip to and from the Isle of Wight wasn’t entirely ideal. Storm Ciara was making her presence known.
So I made sure that I did a big shop for food and other bits and pieces to minimise (or completely cut out) the need to venture out in the storm while I was there. The car was loaded up with those and all of my painting supplies and off I went.
My days typically start at 06:00, with strong coffee. I usually have a broad plan to achieve certain things, but part of my mission of being there is to see where the wind takes me, free of distractions in the office and at home. My paintings, after all, are what our business IS. Without the paintings, there is no business. So I really do need this time.
But this also means it can all feel a bit pressured, if I let it. And I need to really take care of not diving into the office messaging system or using the phone unless I really need to.
I know in my heart of hearts that everything at home is fine, Duncan and my Mum split the childcare duties, and Duncan is also working with my lovely team busily keeping the business going. I am here to paint, I have to constantly remind myself. That’s not as easy as it sounds.
This time, I allowed myself 2 days just to paint, and was literally working 17 hour days. You can see from the little photo montage that the storm was really kicking in as the boat approached the harbour. When I arrived at the house it was 9pm, and the whole place was covered in builder’s dust sheets, plastic and bits of kit. So my first job was to turn the house into a house again. Once I was settled in, I lit the fire and that was it for the next two days. I had lots of lovely warm fires and burned through a LOT of coal! As you can see from the pictures I was even working from bed whilst the wind and rain battered the house. I barely even noticed the storm though, my head was deep in my sketchbook the whole time, and didn’t even get out into the fresh air until the very end of my stay. I did get a visit from our lovely neighbours and their absolutely gorgeous daughter, so that was a very welcome break – it was so nice to see a friendly face.
The goal of course was achieved, and that was to come back to the team here in Sussex with my sketchbooks filled with new paintings to be created into products for our wonderful customers to give to their loved ones. I’m pretty proud of the results of this trip. We have launched the Spring / Summer Welly Boot collection and it’s so fresh and bright, there’s not a storm cloud in sight. I am so excited to see what you guys think of it all!
What do your work trips look like?
Although I do work extremely hard over there, I also know how lucky I am to be doing the thing I absolutely love for a job, and the locations in which I get to do that are absolutely wonderful as well. It’s pretty magical that when I say that I “have to get away to work”, for this to be my working life.
Some of the team certainly remember a few dubious faceless hotels on work trips where they only saw the inside of conference suites, suffered death by powerpoint, and were fed tepid finger food or crusty sandwiches during the breaks. So perhaps it’s not really all that bad, eh?