We are Karen and Elaine from Pontyclun and Miskin, near Cardiff, South Wales and this is the story behind creating Home Cwtches in April 2017. We hope that our story will explain why we are as crazy as we are as well as giving you an insight into our backgrounds.
Between us we have 7 boys (yes, you've read that correctly!) as well as 3 cats: Cider, Keenor and Carlisle, and a completely bonkers Beagle, Henry, who are also all boys so we desperately needed some femininity in our otherwise blue lives. We both enjoy furnishing our homes (over and over again, much to the annoyance of our husbands) and love nothing better than shopping for new things (who doesn't though, eh?!). It was this love for home furnishings that led us to start Home Cwtches. For those who aren't Welsh, cwtch is the Welsh word to cuddle or hug and can also mean a safe place or snug. Once we had our name it was then time to go shopping ... it was such a chore!! ;-)
After purchasing our first batch of items it was time to create a website. Having never done anything like this before, it took a whole month of tantrums and tears but eventually the website was ready to go and it was by far our proudest moment! (Huge pat on Elaine's back as the tears and tantrums were mostly hers.)
Since then we have gone from strength to strength, hosting house parties, attending fayres and setting up different forms of social media. Facebook and Instagram we figured out no problem but Twitter is another kettle of fish - we'll keep going though and will get to grips with it eventually!
Building Home Cwtches was far harder than most people realise. It is easy to assume that we simply play shop all day but there's so much more to it than that. From the technical side in terms of marketing, social media, learning new IT skills, invoicing and accounting to all the research that happens to find new suppliers and assess current trends as well as all the manual work involved in receiving and going through every single item in each delivery to ensure they meet our high standards of quality, moving and storing the stock and fulfilling all the orders we receive - there's more to Home Cwtches than just simply selling gorgeous items! This is made even more difficult because Karen has mobility problems but we don't let her disability get in our way - we work in partnership to ensure that we support each other where we need it and we don't let any limitations, obstacles or excuses get in our way! It's hard enough to be self-employed working mums without factoring in a disability but we make it work because we won't let anything stop us!
We ensure that we have the best business and marketing advice and have attended some excellent courses mainly from Business Wales and Welsh in Business. Business Wales has found us a mentor called Kat and she is fantastic. We are not arrogant and are very happy to take any advice and critisism on board because our ultimate goal is to provide the best marketing and customer experience that we can to enable Home Cwtches to grow. If, after shopping with us, you find that you have any ideas or suggestions for us then please do drop us a line via our Contact Us page. We'd be very happy to hear from you and will take on board any suggestions to help make your customer experience an even better one!
We are both very proud of our Welsh heritage and as such are keen to expand our Welsh language and handmade in Wales sections. Elaine's husband is a Welsh speaker and her children all attend a Welsh school. Elaine is far too modest about her Welsh language skills but even still she is starting Welsh classes to further her Welsh language journey. Karen has no Welsh language skills whatsoever but constantly typing in Welsh words and their translations into stock sheets etc has proved to be the perfect platform for educating herself (and Elaine has way too much fun correcting Karen's hilarious mispronunciations!). We have both realised what a truly important part of our heritage the Welsh language is and we want to do our small part in promoting this beautiful language.
Sourcing handmade items from local suppliers has proven to us what amazing talent there is in Wales and showcasing the skills of these artists and craftsfolk is something we are passionate about doing. From one small business to another, for us it's all about supporting each other.
We host House Parties and they are really fun to do! The pictures here are of our first couple of house parties and its great to look back on those early parties and compare against where we are now and how much we've grown. House parties are a great excuse to get a group of your friends together, have a glass or two (or three ... we won't judge) of wine, prosecco or G&T, some nibbles, some giggles and shop for gifts or treats for yourself because the host gets 20% of orders taken on the night to spend back in Home Cwtches. Friends, food, drinks, shopping and freebies - surely these are the ingredients for the best night in ever?!
If you are interested in hosting a House Party please do get in touch and we'll organise it for you!
One year on we have a vast, eclectic mix of beautiful home decor items which we are extremely proud of. Our aim is to offer something different to what you'd usually find in all the big shops so you are able to furnish your home and give gifts that you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else. To this end we change and update our stock constantly and often only offer limited numbers of each item to maximise exclusivity so keep visiting us to see what we have in next so you don't miss out!
We absolutely love running our own business and have lots of exciting plans for the future which we look forward to sharing with you in our blog and in our special Facebook Home Cwtches VIP group. Just send a join request and you'll have access to special offers, our "Item of the Week" and get to view exclusives before they hit the website. On our main Facebook page you'll also have a small window into some of the truly wacky things that happen behind the Home Cwtches scenes (did you forget about our 7 crazy boys and the bonkers Beagle dog? Wish we could sometimes!) Please like our page and join our VIP group to come with us on our journey.
Working together has shown us that we really do get on very well - we both share extremely similar styles when it comes to home decor and also the same sense of humour which helps enormously! (A good laugh goes a long way, as we all know, but also you've got to laugh otherwise you'd cry, right?!) We know when we need to be serious but we certainly do have a laugh along the way! If you don't have fun in your job then you're in the wrong job so we've clearly both found our calling here!
Thank you for sharing our story and we hope that you enjoy browsing through our current ranges. We are enormously proud of each and every item that we choose for Home Cwtches and we sincerely hope that you love them all as much as we do.
Karen and Elaine x