Amanda is a fellow beach lover and I was thrilled to come across her page, The Little Boathouse, as I started to decorate the new beach huts this year. If you’ve read my blogs on How I created Isla, and How I created Millie, you’ll know that she made two custom welcome boats and our fab boat bunting lights too! I couldn’t believe how much effort she went to in customising a version for us and the lights always attract lots of compliments. You won’t be surprised that I’ve taken delivery of a boat and bunting lights for Harley too now!
Amanda’s page is a firm favourite of mine both on Facebook and Instagram and I’m so pleased that she said yes to being in one of our ‘Featured Supplier’ Series. I caught up with Amanda, to find out more about her and her business The Little Boathouse.
Tell us a little bit about your business. What inspired you to start it and how has The Little Boathouse developed?
My Father went to sea, his father before him and his before etc…. so we come from a long line of seafarers. We have always been surrounded by all things nautical and have a deep rooted love of nostalgia.
It was after looking over some of my Father’s beautiful old charts from his voyages around the world, that the idea of paper boats came about. I loved the idea of not only re-loving them, but also providing customers with a unique way of sending their love and good wishes and as much personalisation as we could. We do this with the sails, bunting, message bottles, and flags and even use coordinates to mark our customer’s special places in time.
I love the different quotes you use on your boats – where do you get your inspiration for these from?
The quotes usually come from our customers, we have some favourites but we love to be guided and try to be as flexible as possible. Some become a standard boat offering afterwards as we loved them so much and know our other customers would also!
We love our own unique bunting with lights but there have been some very special birthdays, father day and mothers days gifts that you have created. What’s been your most unusual piece so far?
My eldest deckhand invented the Paper Boat Tree’s, they are great as unusual gifts to sit on the mantelpiece or in the study but equally fantastic filled with treats and used as centrepieces on tables, they have proven popular for weddings and dinner parties and I love that my little deckhand came up with them.
Some of the commissions have been unusual we had a lovely customer send their child’s beaded artwork in, which we made into sails along with some special quotes for their grandparents Christmas gifts, they proved challenging and the boathouse was covered in little glittery beads for weeks, but they looked fabulous and most importantly our customer was thrilled!
If you had to choose one of your creations over the years – which would one it be and why?
The Anniversary boats, we offer lots of choices and try to be flexible for the wordings as much as we can, they make ideal 1st Anniversary gifts as paper based, but love that we make an awful lot of 50th, 60th Anniversary and some 70thAnniversary boats, it keeps the faith in long happy marriages!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love it when a customer gets in touch and is thrilled, we know the boats are better in real life than sometimes we can capture in photo’s we add lots of special touches and try to ensure that customers have a choice on how much or little they want to spend and feel we deliver value for money along with a really unique bespoke item.
Made by hand from start to finish, we take a huge pride in each and every order and do not bulk make in advance even on our standard style boat, as prefer to ensure each boat is as perfect as we can get them and not sitting around in stock rooms before they set sail.
What do you like to do for fun?
Our family motto is “Less Beans More Ice-cream” we work hard and play hard putting family first above all.
The small deckhands keep me busy along with our growing zoo of rescue pets – but I do escape to get the wind in my sails whenever I can too!!
I love seeing your gorgeous girls (aka deckhands) on your Instagram feed – what do they think about The Little Boathouse? Have they caught the bug?
The Little Boathouse is all of us, it was devised during the Summer holidays a few years ago by sitting around the kitchen table with the Deckhands and each of us trying to make paper boats! They earn their pocket money by working in the Boathouse too, and love coming in to do their homework or create amazing works of art whilst I boat build. I am very lucky to have their enthusiasm and infectious fun around me as I am sure it inspires me all the more!
Running a small business can be tough at times – what’s been your biggest challenge so far?
Fitting it all in! I have a 2 hour school run each day and need to fit in the business, post office runs, ordering, marketing and building boats 4 hours – I usually end up getting up super early or working after they have gone to bed or sneaking off at the weekends to do a little preparation.
What would be your top three tips for starting a new business?
1. Enthusiasm for what you do is a must, you have to really LOVE your products.
2. Expect there to be some obstacles to overcome, I look on them as mini challenges each time!
3. Give it time both to grow and be guided by your customers – I have let the business develop this way and evolved with my products as I go.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for The Little Boathouse?
We have so many new products we want to bring out, but time is limited so we are taking our time on them … but know we will get them out there soon!
You can find The Little Boathouse at:
Not on the High Street: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/thelittleboathouse
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