Saturday, 13 August 2016

Dutch Quarter Industries, the story so far . . .

I bumped into my neighbour yesterday and she asked me how our bee's were. And I thought, perhaps it might be worth me writing a post about where are with our Honey venture and the other products we were selling locally under the 'Dutch Quarter Industries' banner.

Last year our little 'experimental' Bee hive, started producing a lot of honey. I say 'experimental' as when we bought the hive starter kit online we had no idea what we were doing or if the Bee's would survive. However, the colony seemed to thrive in our little garden in the Dutch Quarter and we were producing more honey than we could eat or give away to our neighbours.

You can read about our first extraction here:

So, we decided to try and sell to our friends and any local businesses that may be interested. the idea being any profit we made would go towards buying a second hive. Our friends were incredibly supportive, some even coming up to Colchester from London to collect their jars but mostly I was dropping them off to people at their work when I went to work. Since my other half and I both work in Advertising and Design we knew we didn't want to sell them in any old jars with home printed labels, so we branded the honey and spent a lot of time sourcing the right jars. It was a great little project and when the honey had been jarred and labeled we had produced this:

We ended up having 3 different types of honey. A light honey, a dark, almost toffee tasting honey, and honey with honeycomb. Since we had so much we thought we would try and get it stocked locally. The Sun Inn in Dedham were very supportive and bought a job lot that they used on their breakfast buffet table, and the now defunct 'Dough&Bean' were stocking it in their little shop. We were thrilled! 

But still, there was more honey. So, I applied for a stall in Colchester Market and set about making some other products to sell on our 'Dutch Quarter Industries' stall. I am not experienced at sewing/crafting at all, but I had been bought a sewing machine in the Spring and thought I could rustle up some nice little gift type products on it. Also, as Rob Ryan once said "You can do a lot with a small brain". I then decided that our USP would be that we would only sell things on the stall that I/we could make at home in the Dutch Quarter. If we could make it, we would sell it. And I was not about to let a lack of any discernible skills or talent hold us back! Each product was made in a small number so as such was a 'Limited Edition'. I wanted to have a turnaround of products as I hate when people don't change their stock.

By the end of a few weeks, fitting it around my Freelance work and looking after my son, we had quite an array of items. All made, labelled and packaged at home using local shops as much as possible for the supplies of card and bags.

I did the Market on the last 4 Saturdays on the run up to Christmas and furiously tweeted that I would be on the High Street. I believed that our 'wares' were great Christmas gifts and stocking fillers and I only made things that I would actually buy myself. I had amazing local support from the Twitter community and neighbours but ultimately I'm not sure if the High Street Market was the best place for my things. It was very cold in December, so I think the weather put people off browsing, the high street is a very noisy place for the market and not really a great environment for hanging around. However, we sold out of honey and it was a great learning experience. 

Hand made Tote bags using fabric that I dyed myself with Vegetables. 
Each unique and waxed for rain protection.

Had a little help here with the stuffing process...

Toy Snakes made from the off cuts of the bags.

Leather Headphone Tidy's. 
I made 12 of these and one lady bought them all the first day of selling them!

Leather and Liberty Fabric Brooches. 

Glass Bead necklaces. We even made the stands using Elder wood from the garden.

More Leather and Liberty Print Brooches.

Liberty Fabric and wire Headbands.

Liberty Print Charm Bracelets.

Friendship Bracelets.

Wooden Tealight holders made from pollarded wood cut down in the Dutch Quarter.

I have a stack of 1960's Educational Prints so framed these up.

Stuffed Bunnies.

Liberty Fabric Christmas Baubles.

Christmas stockings.

Clay Tree Decorations / Parcel tags.

Our stall banner.


Picture taken shortly before my nose froze, dropped off and rolled under a bus.

We made this also using wood from the garden and blackboard paint.

Packed and ready to sell!

But then, after all our efforts to look after our Bee's this Spring, the colony died. We still don't know what happened, we are after all complete novices. Was it something we did wrong? The weather? Colony Collapse? Varroa Mite? Wax Moth? Who knows. But it means our little Honey industry has been put on hold. We did buy a 2nd hive with the Market proceeds but it is currently empty. We bought a new colony recently but they need to establish themselves before we know if we will have any honey, but certainly we won't have any to sell this year.

So, please, watch this space. 'Dutch Quarter Industries' is not quite dead, but just on the back burner. I still have some of the Liberty Print items and Vintage prints left so I may do some Christmas Market's at the end of the year but there will be no honey in the short term. I really enjoyed doing all of this and looking back can't believe how much stuff I made, so fingers crossed our new Bee's survive and we will be back...

No comments:

Post a Comment