Not just a 2015 movie starring the divine Dame Maggie Smith, ‘The Lady in a Van’ is now a title I use to describe myself as I motor about in my new, shiny, white, Kia Carnival.
Now, the idea of owning such a car has taken me some time to adjust to. Ignoring the potential judgement this may bring, I don’t mind admitting that typically I prefer a European sedan with leather seats (heated of course) and a smooth, quiet ride. The Van doesn’t quite meet those specs, but surprisingly it’s the perfect car for me at this moment in time.
To be honest, I’m copping some flak from those nearest and dearest, as is our way, insinuating that white vans and their owners are somewhat suspect, that van drivers are notoriously annoying on the road and that I now have to run winery tours for my friends (not a bad idea!). I’m also learning some new terms for 8-seater vans such as ‘Troop Coupe’, ‘Mummy Bus’, ‘Loser Cruiser’ (how mean!) and my personal favourite ‘Minivantastic’.
For me this van purchase feels like we’ve put on our big girl pants and are getting serious about our business. Don’t get me wrong, we have been passionate about Maglen Designs since day one, but now we have The Van! It all makes logical sense really, as small business owner travelling to markets, picking up and delivering stock, and as a mum with long legged teenage boys, it’s a great match.
Speaking of great matches, we have some other exciting news developing. Over the past month we’ve hit the road, pull along suitcase in tow, and visited dozens of shops to show our products, share our story, and personally meet with owners. We’ve discovered many wonderful small businesses in our region and been given some meaningful advice and great feedback. Each visit starts with Krista and I taking a deep breath, squeezing each other’s hand and pushing outside our comfort zone through the front door. Its nerve wracking and we squabble over who’s turn it is to speak first. Sometimes we have a little browse to pick our moment, other times we waltz right up to the counter. Sometimes they’re expecting us, other times we are met with blank looks because they didn’t get the phone message from the sales girl that we were coming. Either way, it’s not long before we’re in full swing, all smiles, comfortably pitching away like crazy.
Travelling sales is a tough gig, no doubt. While we have met some lovely people, generous with their time and advice, it’s certainly not always the case. Some visits have been horrific, awkward encounters that left us emotionally bruised. It’s these times that we’re thankful that we have each other to stay motivated. There’s nothing quite like mimicking a snooty nosed shopkeeper to lift your spirits!
The best news is that our proactive approach has worked. We now have three confirmed stockists. Importantly, each of these gorgeous shops are owned by people who understand us. They appreciate the quality of our products, the underlying integrity of production and the beautiful, unique designs. It’s humbling not just getting their support, but that they are willing to give us a start. We promise to shout their names from the rooftops when the ink is dry. Fingers crossed it’s just the beginning of this chapter.
As Krista’s departure from Australia draws nearer, we’ve both sensed a shift in momentum which is exciting. We’re ready for whatever is next, waiting in the wings, with The Van.