Interview: Kristina Boulden, Director, Romney Marsh Wools and Shepherd’s Huts
PUBLISHED: 11:36 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:36 23 June 2020
We spoke with the director of Romney Marsh Wools and Shepherd’s Huts to see how she has been coping during lockdown
Who did you miss the most?
It has to be our lovely customers who would come and stay in our shepherd’s huts or visit the shows where we exhibit and sell our Romney Marsh wool wares.
What did you miss doing?
We had a wonderful Open Day planned in April where we would have opened our farm gates to the public who could have met our little lambs in person and enjoyed local food tastings and craft demonstrations. Instead we turned the event into a Virtual Open Day which went live on Facebook and was really well received. We are joining other events ‘virtually’ too such as Wonderwool Wales and the RHS Wisley Spring Craft Fair.
Who did you speak to most?
We tried to stay connected as much as possible through online meetings and found Produced in Kent invaluable during this time as they set up the helpkentbuylocal.co.uk website with more than 150 businesses adding their contact details. Obviously, our accountant and bank manager were also on the regular call list along with LEADER grants, Kent Invicta Chambers and Visit Kent, all of whom provided essential support and really helpful market data.
What if any changes did you have to make to your business?
Like others, the first thing we had to do was furlough staff to protect jobs for the future. Then we had to focus on cashflow and applied immediately for a business grant as the income from our shepherd’s huts had stopped overnight but bills still had to be paid. Income needed to be increased from the wool side of the business, so we went all out on social media to push that. Luckily, we already had a good website in place which proved vital. But lambing and crops still needed tending to, so nothing changed on that front.
What have you learnt during lockdown?
We have certainly learned that we can travel less by having virtual meetings and that online events are a fun way of sharing what we do. We’re planning another one around shearing time. Personally, I realised how important it is to slow down and take more family time, plus my admiration for teachers has escalated enormously!
Where will be the first place you go out to eat when possible?
The Farriers Arms in Mersham.
What positive can you take from this?
The environment seems to have been healing itself with less pollution which is a most definite positive and will make us consider how much or how little, we need to use the car in future. We should also take comfort in how kind and helpful we can be to each other, whether it was shopping for a friend or family or just calling loved ones more often to show them how much we care.