The Beehive Story; Pop-Up to Permanent!

Well, we’ve officially been open to the public for 3 whole weeks.

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<— That. It’s gone so quickly, and yet, it already feels like YEARS.

It has been a whirlwind; in the very best possible way.

Of course, finding our feet hasn’t been without it’s teething troubles, but with a team filled with hearts of gold, our first 3 weeks have been fantastic.

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I loved hearing the “oooooo”s and “ahhhhh”s as people explored all that our beautiful boutique had to offer.

We started out by opening our doors for a special Grand Opening Event- welcoming some of the people who have had a hand in getting us this far, and plenty of guests who want to be a part of our journey going ahead. We had a great time! The place was buzzing- the prosecco flowed; the canapés were gobbled (handed out very expertly by some of our littlest Beehive team members); and plenty of shopping went on. I loved hearing the "oooooo"s and "ahhhhh"s as everyone explored all that our beautiful boutique had to offer. Even the team, who had been sanding, painting and creating solidly, were still surprised by how beautiful it all looked, finished (well…. there will always be more to do… It will never be finished), and filled with shoppers.

It all, very quickly, became reality. We are no longer a pop-up. We. Are. Permanent.

We then opened our doors to the general public, and from Monday-Saturday have been open for business. We have had some amazing donations so far (and are ALWAYS accepting good quality women’s clothing/accessories/shoes. To find out how to donate click here) and we have been selling selling selling!

It’s always scary to learn a new trade, but it has been so much fun picking up new skills and teaching each other as we learn together!

As a team, it’s been a learning curve, as we all get to grips with the practicalities of keeping shop- there was great excitement (for me, if no-one else) getting our hands on the fancy new till and card machine- it’s the the little things in life eh?!

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I adore volunteering in a place that puts people at the very centre of all we do- we have full reign to do practically anything we can think of to make people feel valued, and that fills my heart with joy.

It’s always scary to learn a new trade, but it has been so much fun picking up new skills and teaching each other as we learn together! From using the till, to whipping up a latte, there have been plenty of new skills to learn for absolutely everyone in our team (even those of us who’ve been around from the beginning of The Beehive journey! The learning never stops!). Manned mostly by volunteers, I have loved seeing the enthusiasm and willingness to learn and grow- there has been so much pride in excellence, which is lovely to see and really is at the core of what we do here. On one of my first shifts in the new Beehive, I spent the day with Lesley, and what a day we had! We had some great customers who not only bought clothes, but stayed to chat; to drink coffee (which gave Lesley a chance to try her hand at the coffee machine- she nailed it!), and to enjoy the relaxation of retail therapy.

From the beginning of our journey, up to now (and for always), our objective is simple- make people feel valued. The Beehive has always been dual purpose: give away free clothing to women who can’t afford to buy clothes, and offer a beautiful boutique for the general public. Both of these purposes come with the same aim- Making Women Feel Beautiful; Valued and that they Matter. Whether someone walks in to buy clothes, or is referred to us for free items, we want women to know their value, and their worth. I adore volunteering in a place that puts people at the very centre of all we do- we have full reign to do practically anything we can think of to make people feel valued, and that fills my heart with joy. We’re having so much fun doing just that, already.

When Becca first had the dream of The Beehive, her vision was that It was to be “A cafe, and….” She wanted it to be a space for start-up businesses to grow; a place for creatives to meet; a space for people to refresh, thrive and be sent back out- just like bees in a hive. And so, our aim is to branch out into a community cafe above our shop. That dream is growing ever closer to becoming a reality as we raise funds to take over the upstairs space that is ready and waiting for us.

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Becca’s vision for The Beehive was that It was to be “A cafe, and….” She wanted it to be a space for start-up businesses to grow; a place for creatives to meet; a space for people to refresh, thrive and be sent back out- just like bees in a hive.

We never like to dream small, and we LOVE a challenge, as we strive to be a place of rest; a place of growth and a place of transformation in people’s lives. Our dreams for The Beehive stretch far into the future, and we can’t wait to take each step forward, in bringing life to the people of Ashford. The Cafe is coming next… So there is plenty of news to share with you as that dream grows ever nearer. But for now; we still have refreshments of all sorts for sale, and a little seating area in the very middle of the shop, waiting just for you. We’d love you to make us your place to rest, to catch up and to refresh! So whether you’re shopping, using our cafe area, or a bit of both, we look forward to seeing you very soon, at The Beehive.

-Karen Thatcher