August 1997 and Country Living Magazine changed our lives! We had been making sweaters, shawls and fascinators from handspun mohair blended with wool from Wensleydale sheep when we decided to change tack and use our wonderful mohair to make socks. We knew all the good things about mohair and why it would be good for making socks but could we make a living from selling socks?
I, Steve, had been along to shows and we were encouraged by the response and many customers were coming back for more. Our first letter from a customer read “ I have just bought some of your socks at the Royal Show and I wanted to tell you that my feet think they have died and gone to Heaven!”
We were approached by Celia Rufey, a freelance writer, who said she would like to write about us and see if Country Living Magazine would like the story. Of course we said yes but didn't really know what it would entail. It was a lovely sunny day in 1996 when Celia and photographer, Di Lewis, came and had the whole family herding goats, dying socks, shearing goats and so on! The children loved it! 26 years later, I am not so sure they would be so co-operative!
We waited and waited and then heard that an article was coming out in the following August . Remember, this was before the internet (for us), before websites and when the use of credit cards was quite limited! And then the post started coming in.
In those days, to save on mailing costs and to be as environmentally conscious as possible, I used to go to the shoe shops in Honiton and collect up their used shoe boxes so that we could use them for posting our socks! Recycling!
I used to wrap the boxes in brown paper salvaged from the sacks that brought our organic feed for the goats! And then the whole lot were taken to Honiton post office for stamps—what a time it took!
The influence of Country Living Magazine lasted a very long time. For years afterwards, we had calls from people saying they had “just been tidying up their mother’s house and found an old copy of Country Living—were we still in business?”
And many of these customers are STILL customers and buy socks or scarves or throws from us every year. And many have passed on the habit to their children!
In the first 12 months after the publication, we think we had about 3000 orders from our Country Living “family”!
Previously, my “database” had been an address book. We then has to get modernised and up to date with a computer—arrgh!
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