As Christmas approaches, the anxious scrabble for the perfect one-off gift for friends and family is intensifying.
For those who wish to support local independent businesses as well, the answer to the woes of a distressed gift search can be found in Refine And Design in Yeovil.
The home-made housewares and gifts store opened in the buzzing Quedam mall in August.
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Owner Sammie Baker launched the business in December 2019, months before the first coronavirus lockdown was put in place.
What had started as a hobby grew into a full-fledged business after being coaxed by friends and the gift of a machine to personalize her husband’s products.
Refine And Design was originally operated through a website and pop-up stands in marketplaces.
The business grew stronger and stronger, and Ms Baker decided to engage her in a brick and mortar storefront, a move she made with some trepidation.
Ms Baker said: “I have always dreamed of having my own business.
Ms Baker ran the business alongside her job as a passenger assistant, but found it a “nightmare” to juggle the two and decided to work full-time with the company last month.
She said: “I spent the whole month of August wondering if I should quit my job, because obviously if I’m not supported now it’s going to put us under pressure.
“It was not an easy decision to make because I loved my job. If this was a place where I was truly miserable and hated, it would have been easy.
“It’s really scary to do something like that, but I think sometimes you have to do it.”
The managers of Quedam have been very supportive, said Ms Baker, and there is a real community among the traders along Vicarage Walk.
The boutique itself has a range of labeled household items ready for sale, but there is also a section of the boutique with blank gift items that can be personalized with text or photos to suit the customer’s preference.
Ms Baker said: “People can come in and pick the bottles or whatever they want and then pick the color of the writing, what they want written on it and the font they want.”
Among the most popular items are wax burners and bottles, which many use as shampoo or hand sanitizer stations, with embossed labels.
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As the Christmas days dwindle, Ms Baker says she doesn’t know what to expect from her first festive season as a freelance store owner.
She said, “I’ve never done this before, so I literally have no idea. I just hope people support me.
“It’s a whole range of emotions right now. Previously there was no such risk because I did it from home and around my work, whereas now it is my livelihood.
“If I don’t do well and it leaks, we’re in pretty bad shape. My dream came true with this, so I don’t want to lose it.
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