Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the creative gallery and shop owner Jane Will

With Christmas coming soon, now is the opportunity to shop local and support independent shops such as Will and Yates in Deal Kent.

Will & Yates Gallery + Homestore

104-106 High Street Deal Kent CT14 6EE

Tel 01404 374700 /07958 931 411 /info@willandyates.com

When we first met many moons ago you were working in the Shaker Shop in London. How did this come about?

Shaker was my favorite shop in London. I became obsessed with the whole look and loved everything about it. Had I lived back in the 1750’s I am sure I would have become a Shaker sister. I filled my house with all things Shaker, peg rails, boxes in all sizes. It got to the point where I visited the Shaker villages in the USA. Then I started to work for the Shaker Shop in London.

Deal is very different from London. What made you move down to a small coastal town and away from London?

I lived in London since I was 18 and I had my family there. We always said once the kids left home we would move down to the coast. We visited many seaside towns but as soon as we visited Deal we knew it was the place that we wanted to live. It ticks all the boxes, it’s architecture, independent shops, Saturday market, great restaurants and a fast train to London.

What are its advantages and disadvantages?

I honestly can’t think of any disadvantages. Family and friends visit all the time- we always have a house full. The pace is obviously slower, but that is what I want. After a full time job and parent hood, the simpler things become more important- sitting on the beach, riding my bicycle, lunch with friends.

Have you always wanted to run your own shop and gallery?

Yes, I used to make my sister play shop with me. I loved using my till and giving out change.

How long have you had your shop/gallery  in Deal?

We opened in October 2017

What have been the major challenges?

Keeping the stock fresh so that customers keep returning.

Is there much competition within the town?

There are a few independent shops, which is lovely, as we are all different.

Do you sell much on line?

Not yet but I intend to build up that side of the business.

Is it difficult to source original product?

Yes we are always on the look out for local artisans.

Jane I have known you for a long time I have written about your previous houses and I know you have a great eye. Have you had any kind of design training?  

No, but I do live with creatives. My husband ran an Ad agency before we moved down here and my sons both work in creative industries.

Had you ever had any experience in running your own business before?

No I’ve always been employed.

How did you find your premises and why did you choose the sea front?

Caroline, my business partner, and I had been looking on the high street and then we walked past this on the sea front and saw it was up for rent. So we went and bought fish and chips and sat on the beach and discussed it for a very short time. So after the fish and chips we went back to the shop and said yes.

Tell me about how you met your business partner and about the different roles you hold within the business? We met on the beach and got talking and immediately made a connection.We bring different things to the business.Caroline is an artist and she studied painting at the RCA. She is more creative than me. I am the more practical one.

What would you say is your USP?

We sell a mixture of original art, much of it Caroline’s but other artists too, plus vintage and new home wares. I attend antique fairs, trade fairs and open studios. Sometimes I find people on instagram.

Do you run any events from the shop?

Yes every three months we hold an event such as a Christmas sales evening or an exhibition launch. We advertise this on social media and we do door drops and we have a mailing list.

Can you describe a typical day?

I shall describe a typical Saturday. I will go to the market and buy flowers for the shop. Deal has an excellent Saturday market. I will buy a sticky bun from the Swedish lady who has a stand there and coffee from Deal Roasters. I take everything to the shop and open up at 10am. Normally we are busy with lots of locals coming to see what we have that is new. I try to remember to ask how people have found us. Often recommendation and some find us on instagram. I close the shop at 5pm. Walk home and have a glass of wine.

On Sundays the customer base changes, there are more dog walkers who walk past and then come in to see what we are selling. Up to now we have been closed in the week but as the summer progresses and we become better known we will open from Thursday to Sunday.

One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over fifty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care, illness and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with any of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?

It was because of the children that I took a job as a school secretary. I needed to work, although it wasn’t particularly creative it meant that I didn’t have childcare issues and I could see my children after school and during their holidays.

Who or what inspires you?

Caroline my business partner inspires me. She has changed my life. Even though what I now have has been a long held dream, I am not sure that I would have done it by myself. I get on with the day-to-day stuff whilst she is painting. We make a good team.

From what part of your business do you get the most satisfaction?

I get a great kick when someone buys something I’ve chosen and when people say lovely things about the shop.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out today?

Do as much as you can yourself to save money. My husband, who is luckily very practical, fitted out the shop.

You do need financial security for rent, stock and to get set up. It will probably be a while before you can start making any income from it.  I overlapped with my other job for eight months in order to get established. I’ve given up the other job now to concentrate on this.

What is next for the shop?

Caroline would like to expand into bigger premises. I am not sure yet and would like to get this a little more established before we do.

Since interviewing Jane, she and Caroline, have bitten the bullet and, moved into much larger premises on High Street Deal. The move has been a great success.

Will & Yates Gallery + Homestore

104-106 High Street Deal Kent CT14 6EE

Tel 01404 374700 /07958 931 411 /https://www.willandyates.com/