One of our amazing guests Maria sent me a message, the day after her family hired one of my beach huts
“Ok, we have a very sad little girl as she hasn’t been to the beach hut today, tears the works !!!!
I have calmed her down for now saying she can go again this time next year and take a friend in June. Then she pipes up, mummie I saw a heater in the beach hut so we can go when it’s cold !!!!”
If only toddlers were in charge of our daily lives. They’d be so much more fun! And yes, if you know me, you’ll want to know if I cried a little! #Yes #Proud
Helloooooooo, I’m Vicky
I’ve always been the Maths geek. I remember being so proud of achieving 92% in a 2nd-year high school test. So proud in fact that I proudly handed the report over to my new Maths teacher when I moved schools. I did say Geek, didn’t I??? I was terrible at art. But my creative side did come out through music. I played the Euphonium and Flute and even ran my 6th year High School Dance Show.
Having spent 15 years of my career working as an Accountant, I guess that music side of me has been scratching away underneath the surface. Every so often that creative side of me has popped out. From working part time in a nightclub while at university to spontaneously buying a Saxophone and finally starting to sew. Some would say I’m a Creative Accountant?
I’m passionate about people, and even more passionate about finding ways to make their lives better. It may explain why I’ve worked in the NHS for 6 years. Most people think of accountants as boring grey-suited humans, helping others make bonuses and more profit. I didn’t want that life and over the last six years, I’ve worked in the NHS where I felt I could help those struggling with reduced funding and the complications of managing large complex processes. I wanted them not to worry about those things and instead, spend their time doing what they do best. Saving thousands of lives every day. An early attempt from me to give something back.
When I care so much about people, I naturally care about how they spend their time and their money. If you are spending money on a day out, event or holiday, then I believe that your expectations should be exceeded. And that includes dog owners. Why should we have to settle for second best as a dog owner? You mightnot appreciate that problem if you are not a dog owner, but it really does happen. You’ll even find yourself relegated to ‘bronze options’ when booking travel and accommodation. Seriously, have companies forgotten that dog owners deserve the same as others?
In anything that I do, I want to make sure people experience the best and I don’t want to compromise. I know that as an accountant, I should naturally be frugal and should be looking at every single investment in each hut to see whether it would make more money. But sometimes you have to go with your gut and trust in people. The calculator does occasionally need to take a back seat.
I’m also a little emosh! Yep, put on X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent and you’ll spot me getting the tissues out. Combine that with my passion for people and it means I won’t settle for anything less than amazing when creating anything.
There is no better feeling than the day I spotted, at a distance a family opening up one the beach huts for their day. As Dad popped the bags down and worked his way through opening up the storm doors and internal doors, my nerves grew a little. But that little squeal from their daughter said it all. Of course, there is no better validation than seeing such a reaction to a beach hut that you’ve spent hours designing, creating and filling with goodies. I receive so many photographs and testimonials that brighten my day but seeing that in the flesh is like a little happy pill in my pocket. No matter how difficult a day can be, I can always leap back to the memory. It’s moments just like that one, that helps to remind me that what I do matters.
Helping people create their own stories. Who wouldn’t want to do that for living?
But the real star is Millie
She loves the water and the beach. Some may say she’s obsessed! Energetic, loyal and loving doesn’t quite do her justice.
She is, of course, my gorgeous English Springer Spaniel. In lots of ways, Millie has changed so much of my life. They say a dog can save you but I’d say Millie has saved me again and again. When things have been tough she has been there, dragging me back out into the world and when things are going well, she’s my favourite companion.
But why Beach Huts?
Have you ever experienced the feeling of complete exhaustion? Whether that be from work, late nights, early mornings, day to day chores and the general stresses of day to day commitments? I’m sure you have at some point.
But how do you get that time out without jumping on a plane for a holiday?
That was me.
In September 2014, I’d spent three months working away from home during the week and had been head down in a new contracting job. It had been some year on the personal front and all the signs were there that I needed a break.
On Friday 14th September, I snatched up a cancellation and booked a beach hut hire in Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex. It was an Indian Summer and I spent the day in shorts with a good book and knew that Millie would love a day at the sea. Nothing quite like being a dog owner to encourage you to get out and about.
Little did I know that I’d also end the day buying a beach hut. Yes, I know, that’s quite unlike an accountant. You would think that I would have spent days researching costs and working out the pros and cons of buying a beach hut. But no, one post on Facebook asking whether I should buy one and I had all the validation I needed. Some would say crazy, others would say spontaneous. I think there may be a little truth in both!
The Millie’s Beach Huts Journey had started and I welcomed Lucy and her gorgeous family as our first guests in March 2015. I’m so lucky that she captured her day in her blog. A permanent reminder of how special that day was, both for myself but also the joy that a day at the beach brings.
That’s why I do this.
It’s a little bit of self-indulgence to book a day in one of my beach huts. I wanted to create an environment that your day felt special in every way. You are worth it and don’t need to wait for your next holiday to feel that way.
It’s been a rollercoaster
As bookings started to flood in before my first beach hut was ready, I gained a little confidence and bought a second hut. Thankfully I didn’t have to move far. It was next door!
I’d love to create a rosy picture of the successes I’ve had with the beach huts. There have been so many amazing highs. For two years in a row, one of my huts has made Towergate’s Beach Hut of the Year. I’ve had so much positivity where people have shared their photographs, videos and blogs, capturing more precious days out. I’m so so proud of each of my beach huts – I really would give them a big hug if I could get my arms around them!
But as with any small business, there have been challenges. Gas stoves stopped working, keys jammed, broken deckchairs, but nothing prepared me for our biggest challenge.
It really was a full on car crash scenario in the first year of trading. The private developer who owned the site where our huts were based, decided to change the licence. This prohibited owners, like me, from hiring out their beach huts. It would have been easy to hang up my beach hut flip flops there and then, as others chose to do.
Millie came to the rescue that night as I sat in tears, seeing months of hard work go down the drain. Nothing quite like a spaniel licking your tears, to make you laugh!
I’ve had to recover from that costly decision but our guests are the most amazing people and helped see out that first year in style with more Christmas and New Year bookings than I could have hoped for.
After 6 months of worry, I finally sold the original two beach huts. It was time to start again and before long, I’d found and renovated three new beach huts. I have a special friend who calls this Millie’s Beach Huts 2.0.
He’s right. They are even better than before. I have three new beach huts who are all now stamped with their own personalities. It feels better than before and it has showed in a sell-out first year for them all.
The Future is Bright
And whilst I haven’t quite considered the future being orange, you never know. There could be an Orange Beach Hut in the making!?!!?
No seriously, whether orange or not, it feels as if we are just starting our journey. If I could grab a paintbrush and paint every brown beach hut that I see, I would!
In the meantime, whether owned by ourselves or not, I want you to be able to book a Millie’s Beach Hut on every coastline and know that you’ll be guaranteed a Millie’s Beach Huts experience.
I’ve learnt so much through the highs and lows. It’s now time to help other beach hut owners who are trying to do the same. Beach Huts may be traditional in style, but it’s about time, they were affordable and more accessible to us all. I want to help other owners create the same loved, happy spaces for you to enjoy.
By choosing to create this life, it has involved making a huge decision to walk away from my full-time job as an accountant. It’s a little scary but also allows me to fulfil my dreams, whilst helping others create their own.
One day, no matter what beach I’m on, I’ll be able to see a family opening up their beach hut for the day and see another little human let out a little squeal of excitement. Those are the moments I cherish. And while it may take a little time and need a little bit of magic, I know together, we’ll get there.