Hey there friends, I?d like to introduce someone super-special. This is Heather. (And me, in case y?all had forgotten what I look like in my absence).
A few months ago I posted on my Instagram about a young woman who had stopped me in the street outside a hairdressers in Southend. I had been having a particularly rubbish day and was heading home, when a little voice said hello. The owner of the little voice had bought my cookbook and was using it to feed herself through university. We had a chat and both went about our days.
A few weeks later I joined a local running club, and Heather?s parents both came over and introduced themselves. They were Very Nice People. We all added each other on Facebook (a rare thing for me, as my personal account is like Fort Knox guarded by orcs with forks and rolling pins) and became friends.
When I put a shout out for local artists to help illustrate Cooking On A Bootstrap, Mama P sent me some examples of Heather?s work, probably knowing she wouldn?t put herself forward for it. I invited her to be part of the crew.
And so, sitting in a pub last week mulling over life and the future and work and allsorts, I half-joked that I wanted to start selling my photography again. I used to sell it reasonably successfully at a local gallery, the Work Of Art in Hamlet Court Road ? until circumstances forced me to finally sell my camera. A few weeks after I handed all of my camera equipment over to a friend for the equivalent of two months rent, Small Boy knocked over my (cheap, not backed up) laptop, and I gave up selling my work. I have a camera again now, and it?s been burning at me from the corner of my living room for a few months, begging to be picked up and taken out to see the sea.
I also had a musing about selling prints of the illustrations from Cooking On A Bootstrap (which, backers, is so very nearly done I am bursting with excitement). And so I put the two together, and decided we could combine forces and open a shop. I mean, LOOK AT HER WORK. And Heather is also a very rare type of someone who I can spend two solid weeks with (what can I say, being self employed and a bit mentally wonky makes ?peopleing? kind of tricky at the best of times?) without turning into a honey badger, so, it all made sense. Surround yourself with good people and life gets better. Etc.
Neither of us are entirely sure exactly how it happened. But we sat there sketching plates and names and squeaking and plotting and now we are very very proud to announce that WE HAVE A SHOP.
I could have gone out on a limb and done it all by myself, sure. But a few years ago a journalist called Xanthe Clay got in touch with a struggling single mum on the breadline and asked if she could feature me in the Telegraph. That piece was a controversial pitch, and she knew it. But a full broadsheet page followed, and after that, the call from a literary agent, then Penguin, to publish my first cookbook. Xanthe changed my life by using her public media platform to give me a break.
This life is bonkers sometimes, and the platform is enormous. I mean, millions of people enormous, if we count all of my social media and blog readers and the conference speeches and everything. I don?t need the whole damn thing myself. I don?t WANT the whole damn thing myself. My ethos for Bootstrap was to give opportunities to people for whom a hand up could be a life-changing thing, and if not quite rolling in rubies, heck, we?re having a lot of fun.
So head over and have a look, and more will be added over the next few days.
(And if the links don?t work for some reason, we are at http://www.heatherandjack.bigcartel.com ? and thankyou!)
(For the moment I can only ship to the UK as I am finishing this damn book, and sitting down to calculate fair international shipping prices for the 122 countries this blog is read in, for each individual product, will take a few days of work. If you live outside of the UK and are so desperate for something that you can?t wait a week or so for that, please drop me a line on [email protected] before you order anything and I will see what I can do. But please, only in exceptional circumstances! I love you all. I?m just so bloody stressed right now.)