After a hiatus of several months, big and positive changes have taken place here at Long Branch!
And they warrant some explaining, which is farrrr too long-winded for Facebook, so here’s a blog post explaining where we’re at and what’s happening.
First, an answer to the question we’ve been getting most:
WHERE have you guys BEEN?
We honestly didn’t meant to be away so long!
We have always annually taken the website down to attend the St Ives Medieval Faire as merchants (and Rowan as village coordinator). As we take most of our stock with us and are usually gone for over a week, the only option has been to pause the website while we do so.
This year,we paused for St Ives as normal. But I had undertaken a large design project that ran over the projected deadline, and left me without time to get the website up and running again (upon returning home, aside from the general unpacking that must be done after a week under canvas, we also need to do a complete stock take and unpack to get the shop running again. It’s a HUGE job.) On top of that, it was our first St Ives with a child, so that was an experience too.
Then I injured my ankle, which saw me spending a delightful evening at the hospital before returning home upon crutches and in a boot. We live in a two story home with a steep and narrow staircase, with our main living area downstairs and our office and Long Branch stock upstairs. I was unable to move between the areas to fill orders or manage the website for quite some time. That, on top of the difficulties of having a work deadline and a small child, saw us keep Long Branch closed far longer than intended just because we wouldn’t find time in the chaos to make it happen.
Then Rowan changed day jobs, commuting for a much larger portion of his day. And then the baby became a toddler, requiring intense supervision and rapid baby-proofing of various items (“Move the swords up high, love! She can get to them!”). And then the toddler became a fearless climber (“Move the swords up even higher, love! She can STILL get to them!”) and the chaos just did not stop.
Aaaand we’re self renovating our house. You know, in the spare time we totally have.
We kept swearing that tomorrow would be the day we got Long Branch sorted, that we’d get it all up and running for SURE by tomorrow night… before we collapsed exhausted into bed and tried to find energy for the next day’s challenges.
We never intended for it to be so long. We just couldn’t keep up. Which made us have a long hard look at who we are and what we value as Long Branch.
And we made some changes.
WHAT CHANGES? OH GOD I HATE CHANGE!!!!
Woah, steady on there our freaked out buddy! Good changes. In simple form, we realised:
- There are finite hours in the day
- We value quality over quantity
- We are craftspeople before we are traders
- We’re not prepared to budge on our high standard of customer service
There are finite hours in the day.
We love Long Branch and would love to make it as big and far reaching as possible, with a truly staggering catalogue of amazing products from around the globe….but we cannot physically cram enough hours into our day to make that happen properly. We couldn’t even get the time to get the website up for this model of Long Branch, let alone expand and expand. Long Branch deserves more attention and care than that from us, and we were not prepared to run it half-arsed on insufficient time.
Given we can’t manufacture more time (curses!), what does that leave us with?
We value quality over quantity.
Given a choice between doing a million things as sort-of-kinda-okayish, we’d much rather do one or two things REALLY well. Long Branch has always striven to be about good quality goods, and that means a lot to us.
We are craftspeople before we are traders.
And what do we believe we do best? Make stuff. But we were spending all our time packaging and ordering and making trips to the post office and ordering new envelopes and emailing our suppliers and talking to customs on the phone about our imports and unpacking stock and on and onnnn and onnnnnnnn it went.
This is normal for a small business, but the thing is, we were running out of time to MAKE the items that make Long Branch unique. And we were losing the thing that made us make Long Branch as a business in the first place.
For example: I’ve been working on the same bronze key for years now, and it’s still not done. I have instead spent more than five times the amount of time emailing our supplier in regards to our imported fire steels. This seems crazy.
This isn’t who I am. This isn’t who Rowan is. We’re craftspeople who have accidentally found themselves as business managers, and our crafts has been suffering as a result.
We’re not prepared to budge on our high standard of customer service.
We’re in contact with a lot of our customers pretty frequently. We like that we can answer questions, and we like that we deliver parcels that are still hand addressed and come with a hand written thank you. We appreciate you guys, and we really mean that. We COULD save some time by ditching the “Thank you” notes, but that’s not us either. We’re not prepared to allow ourselves to grow so large that our customers become disconnected and devalued. Not going to happen.
- We focus on what makes us “us” : quality craftsmanship and customer service.
In practical terms, this means we have axed most of our non-jewellery stock. Why? It was good quality, but a large portion we didn’t make.
The linen we imported, and while we stand behind the quality of it 100%, it no longer fit with our choice to return to craftspeople over business people. We’re delighted to say another small Australian reenactment supplier is likely to be stocking the range in future, so you will still be able to purchase it. More details on that later.
But what we HAVE kept is the stuff we most want to invest our time into, and that’s the jewellery we make.
With more time to focus on this, it means our skills will improve. We’ll continue to bring you better and better jewellery, a lot of which you can’t find elsewhere.
Our products will continue to be hand made by us, lovingly and with enormous care. Because crafting is what we’re passionate about. It’s what we do.
In order to free up more time for making our pieces, we’ve organised a new shipping schedule of once a week.
I WILL finish that key, and I’m determined to spend more time at my work bench than the post office!
Similarly, in order to maintain the highest standards we can, we are now casting and finishing pieces to order. The reason for this is that it allows us to lavish extra attention on each piece as we know it’s needed, rather than spending time on items that just sit and wait. We truly believe it’ll result in a better finished item.
And the great news is that also permits us to leave the website up over our annual St Ives trek! So no more disappearing from the internet for months on end! We call that a win!
We’re pretty genuinely excited about these changes, because we really do believe that they’re going to let us have the time we need to grow as craftspeople and continue to deliver the things that mean the most to us. Getting real workbench time back again is liberating and joyful beyond words, and we’re confident this is going to be reflected across Long Branch as a whole.
Thanks for sticking with us, guys, and for reading such a long explanation. We can’t wait to be sending you goodies again!