It feels very befitting that I’m kicking off my weekly series Meet the Local on International Women’s Day with Emma Bustamante from Cositas.
When the shop Emma was working in closed down she had just three months to turn things around. After securing a business loan she went on to launch Cositas and secured herself her dream job. Located at 32 Holywell Hill, you can find a wonderful collection of stylish homeware, gifts and jewellery or you can even take part in a Cositas Creative Workshop.
A typical day for me starts… with arriving at work feeling like I’ve already done a full day already! After school runs and dog walks, the first thing I do is put the kettle on. I work most days in the shop with my friends Sally and Nicole, and do a couple by myself. I check our online orders and get them sorted first and then we plan our job list for the day. Mostly my day is filled with things that just crop up – there are workshops to organise, invoices to pay, orders to place, visual merchandising, window dressing, styling for photos, researching new trends and brands… I’ve delegated a lot of the day-to-day jobs now so that I can have time each day to concentrate on developing the business as we enter our second year of trading, so sometimes these jobs just involve a quick run through of what needs to be done. Typically the day finishes with us not realising how late it is and finding ourselves rushing around cleaning, tidying up and cashing up ready for the next day.
The one thing do I love most about my job is… goodness, I really don’t know that there’s just one thing. The fact that I’m my own boss? The people that I work with? Painting for Cositas Customised, our new range of furniture that we introduced last month? The interactions I have with the customers in the shop and on social? Being in a beautiful, inspiring environment everyday? I really don’t think I can pick just one. It’s a mixture of all of them that make this my dream job.
I ended up working in my current job as… the shop I’d worked in for 10 years closed its doors. It was here that I taught furniture painting workshops and with Christmas looming and being a single mum of three I had to think really fast about our future and what I would do for work. After months of business plan writing and rewriting, forecasting and meetings I managed to secure a business loan. I finally opened my very own home interiors and gift shop in the heart of St Albans with enough space for me to have Cositas Creative to run the workshops from. Working in St Albans was a no brainier for me; I know the area and even though the business rates nearly made me fall off my chair, the lack of commute (a 20 minute walk) made me realise that my work / life balance would be better if I stayed local to home.
The best piece of advice I received was from my old boss who told me that owning your own business is a bit like being in an abusive relationship; one moment it makes you feel that you’re doing everything right and you’re winning at life and in the blink of an eye you can feel incompetent and rubbish. But that is my expectation that will cause me to feel that way, so I always make sure I’m kind to myself.
My most memorable memory was the relaunch of Cositas Creative funded by the shop when we were 6 months old, and being shortlisted for St Albans Retailer Of The Year when we hadn’t even been open a year yet. Both left me with such a great sense of achievement and direction.
Pub in St Albans: Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, and my favourite bar is SuckerPunch
Place to eat in St Albans: Per Tutti – I love every single dish!
Memory of St Albans: The Adelaide
Place to have a coffee: Hatch On The Hill
Place to buy a present: Cositas, of course!!
A huge thank you to Emma for being my first St Albans local, check back next Thursday to meet my next guest.