After our very successful visits to the nurseries we decided to offer Lower schools the opportunity to have The Kiln visit them for a painting on pottery workshop. A number of schools have taken us up on our offer and we have visited them. Quite a few were interested in the children making Mother's Day presents - and speaking of Mother's Day following on from our Mothering Sunday event over the past couple of years which have been sold out we are repeating it again this year. It is always great to see families and friends come into The Kiln and spend a couple of hours painting and chatting, having a good time, but I especially love Mother's Day as we often get many different relationships in, my particular favourite last year was two 20+ aged men who brought their Mum in, they all painted and the sons both painted something for their Mum. I bet their Mum had not received anything handmade by her sons since their school days but best of all she said she had spent a couple of hours with them - priceless! 
To help our customers with ideas we have a "For your next project" wall which we regularly update with projects we think our customers would like to have a go at. Each project has a step by step guide and of course our friendly staff are always on hand to help 
One idea which did get he thumbs up (see comments below) was "Paint and Go". Recognizing that we have a number of customers who want to take away their projects on the day or those who are visiting Bedford for a short period of time, we introduced painting on wood with acrylics and patio paint 
By the end of 2013 we had been on the High St for two years. It has been a fantastic couple of years - very hard work admittedly but well worth it. We have an excellent team who work hard to ensure our customers have a wonderful experience and who enjoy being in a nice environment. We have lots of regular customers who support us in both the Tearoom and also the studio. It has been fun coming up with new ideas over the past couple of years (some see the light of day others are shot down in flames by the family and team!) We have one big project which is still currently at the drawing board stage (family approved so far!) so watch out for more news over the next few months. 
In November Christmas was very much on our minds as we visited nurseries in and around Bedford and Milton Keynes. We had a lovely time putting babies and toddlers hand and footprints on various items of pottery. Once back in the studio we wrote a brief message on the pottery and delivered back some gorgeous and personalized Christmas presents. 
Bedford Bid and Shopper Anonymous teamed up together in 2013 to look at businesses in Bedford to test and advise them on customer service. The feedback from this exercise was extremely positive and consequently we were awarded 'Outstanding Customer Service Award 2013' which is a testament to The Kiln staff who always thrive to ensure our customers have an excellent experience whilst with us. WELL DONE TEAM!! 
Mary visits our painting on pottery studio
Sue joined the Portas Town Team in 2012 and in October 2013 Mary Portas visited Bedford to have a meeting regarding issues wih High Streets in general. She took the time to visit a number of businesses, The Kiln included. She gave us lovely feedback declaring "What a wonderful shop!" A lovely and welcomed comment from the Queen of Shops 
Birthday party finalist
We were finalists in the Netmums party venue awards in July 2013, unfortunately we did not win but a big thank you to all our friends and customers who took the time and trouble to vote for us. 
With half term approaching I was very busy trying to organise our new craft, Decopatch and introducing a new drink on our menu, milkshakes. Both proved very successful, particularly the milkshakes with our staff who of course had to try the product before selling it!! The decopatch went down a storm especially with our teenage customers who loved decorating our 3D letters, it was so popular that I had to place two urgent deliveries during the week to keep up with the demand as the letters were flying off the shelves. 
After Mary Portas's report into the High St was published on the 13th December 2011, The Kiln had a visit from the Minister for Business Innovation and Skills, Edward Davey and also the Director of the Business Improvement District in Bedford. The MP spent half an hour at The Kiln during which time we discussed the reason why we chose the High St for our location, what the Government and the council could do to help more businesses within Bedford, whether my views and opinions will be taken on board remains to be seen!! 
Since taking over The Kiln at the end of 2008, I always wanted to add new projects and services to the business, and for the past three years I have been planning The Kiln's move. At the beginning of 2010 we first became aware that the Early Learning Centre on the High St was available to rent. After our first visit (in the dark as the electricity had been turned off) we decided there and then that this would make the perfect location for our new shop and dream. A further two years later after much waiting 87 High St was finally ours. But there was an awful lot of work to do - in the process we discovered a hidden window at the back of the shop, two hidden cupboards within the shop, and a domed ceiling perfect for a chandelier, but the best find was the two beautiful wrought iron pillars in the middle of the shop. After working 7 days a week many of them late into the night we opened on the 2nd December 2011. By being on the High St and in a much larger premises we have been able to add a tea room, and have an area where we can sell gifts. 
Before the makeover
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