Firstly I want to say Thank You.

It has been the best 7 years of my life. It really has.
In my wildest dreams as a little girl I couldn't have foreseen a life for myself where I was working so closely with Artists, Authors, Students and my absolute favourite - Normal hobbyists. (Well as normal as we can be)
Over the last 6 and a half years I have had the privilege to teach literally hundreds of people how to spin, weave and felt and seen so many of them go on to make their careers in these inspiring hobbies. I have had SO many laughs and brilliant times. You, my customers, have made it so amazing and I will miss that side of the business so much. It almost breaks my heart. I've made many lifelong friendships through the shop and i'm forever grateful.  


Secondly I want to say what Freya Jones has meant to me.

When I started Freya Jones back in 2016, I had just come off a period of being bed ridden and feeling pretty hopeless about my future. I had no idea whether I could manage it, but my amazing family had so much faith in me that they supported me taking on this crazy idea. It was the making of me. It gave me purpose and made my life a beautiful thing.
I was able to reconnect with my father and he was able to come and see the new expanded shop before he passed away and he was so incredibly proud of me and couldn't believe what I was able to achieve. 
My amazing and incredibly talented sister designed my new logo and that meant so much to me.
I've been able to employ the effervescent and wonderful Michelle who is the best thing since sliced bread. She's superb in every way and has helped me in oh so many ways.

Freya Jones was always more than just a shop, it has been a way of life for me and a happy and inspiring place for so many others. 

Why has this happened?

You know I have always tried to be as open and honest as I can and I think it's important for people to understand why I have had to make this extremely hard decision.

There is no 1 single reason - the last 4 years have created a perfect storm of multiple obstacles which individually can all be overcome, but collectively have made retail unviable.

I could blame Brexit and the difficulties that raised by increasing shipping costs, not to send out orders which it did but that was small compared to the rising costs of GETTING stock. We saw an average of 10% increase across the board including things made in Britain.

I could blame the never ending spectre of HS2 which whilst they haven't even really started yet in earnest on our site, they have shut roads leading to us, caused damage to Thames water pipes and cut down thousands of trees and replaced them with concrete. This combination has lead to a massive increase in flood risk in Stoke Mandeville and indeed we have been almost 30cm under water in Feb 2021.

Obviously Covid. I think that's obvious. The main casualty for us was courses, we used to fill our courses without fail and after covid they never fully recovered. The grants that we received kept us afloat but in reality they only just about covered the rent. Because they were taxable income, they pushed me over the VAT threshold and so from April I have had to pay 20% on everything sold - even though I paid it when I purchased it and cannot claim that back against it. So my margin was squeezed dramatically, i.e by an additional 20% on takings. The way the tax system works for businesses is that they look at your takings for the year and predict what you will take in the following year and charge you 50% of that aswell. So after Covid 2020 year with all the grants - I had to pay nearly 20k in tax in Jan 2021. Which completely wiped out the grants and the bounceback loan I took out. However I was still really positive and I'm proud to pay taxes, so there's no moan from me on that front, it just left me a bit short.

Unfortunately in 2022 from April we had the petrol crisis, the energy crisis which led to the cost of living crisis. We saw a cliff dive of takings. I wasn't even taking a third of predictions in April, May, June, July and August which had been conservative anyway.

At that point I started looking for more viable options. I have viewed many properties (nearly put in an offer) to own my own shop, had mortgage offers and realised the cost of mortgage was unattainable. I then pursued converting a bus, a trailer or a camper van into a travelling shop. This was also no viable. I have looked at rents within a 20 mile radius and no matter what I do, however i spin my business plan - I have over 20 now - There is no way to combat the economical situation.

The economical situation in a nutshell is this -
The cost of stock has risen an additional 15% since April 
My landlord has raised the rent by 10%
Our gas & electric is locked in until April and then I expect it to quadruple.
We had business rate relief which may be stopped in April which could mean an increase of £15k per year
No one else has any money! So takings are down upto 75% each month. I took more in January 2022 than December 2022.
At the moment it costs £3k per month to open the doors - not to replace any stock that has been sold. I need to pay the VAT, the rent, the staff, the insurance, the till, the card machine, the website, till roll, bags, mailing bags, printer ink etc etc etc and to then be able to buy the same amount of stock that has been sold, so it can be sold again. This just hasn't happened. 
Why haven't you moved to a smaller premises? The saving would be roughly £300 per month - seriously. and yet the potential sales from having less offering would be dramatic, so that is not a solution.

I am taking enough to clear any outstanding bills with suppliers and pay the rent and Michelle. That's it. Essentially the shop costs me 2k a month which is more than my husband takes home. It cannot continue no matter how heartbreaking the decision for me is. It would be more heartbreaking to have to close AND owe small businesses money, so that is not an option for me.

What are you going to do now?

I have a very nice 2023 planned out - I'm going to spend at least one day a week with my lovely grandpa, we've planned lots of trips to Car museums, RAF museums and Space museums - I'm sure he'll let me doing something I want to do!

I'm going to buy a metal detector and spend my time in the fields finding metal trash and occasionally some treasure.

I'm going to attempt to write a book. It will probably be absolutely awful but i'll give it a go.

Pippa and I need some R&R. Pippa really needs to retire, she's very slow now and her arthritis is very painful so she has told me she's looking forward to sleeping on the sofa all day and being carried into bed for sleeping all night with an occasional break for being stroked and eating. I'm going to explore having my leg bones cut up! I have twisted legs and there's an operation to cut them to make them straight, so i'll be off my feet for 6 weeks, so i'll be sleeping on the sofa all day and be carried to bed for sleeping all night! What fun for Vinny! There will never be a better time so I better get on with it.

Finally, I've already been collared by my friends to have loads of lovely lunches. So I will be rushed off my newly straightened feet eating and laughing.

My great hope is that in a few years I can re-start Freya Jones and this will be a blip on the story of my life. 


Sending you ALL my love,

Best Wishes,
Freya, Michelle & Pippa xxx