• A new series of reports for Uckfield News takes a look at what’s happening behind the closed doors of businesses while the Coronavirus rages. This week we speak to Gaynor Robson from Kilnwood Studio.
When Gaynor Robson took over the Uckfield pottery painting shop, Kilnwood Studio, she never imagined that just six weeks later she would be forced to close.
She had been thrown straight into the hurly burly of running the business at a busy time, first was the half term holiday, next Mother’s Day, and Easter was approaching fast.
Then everything stopped … because of the Coronavirus lockdown.
Gaynor told Uckfield News: “It is okay. I’m taking the positive from it.
“When I first opened I thought it would have been nice to have had a couple of weeks to decorate and then open, but actually having been open for six weeks I am in a better position to know how to decorate the shop.
“I also understand the challenges we are facing in running the business and can put things in place to help us run it more efficiently – and I can catch up with the admin.”
Gaynor is preparing the shop to be decorated.
All the bisque (pottery) is off the shelves, the shelving has been taken down, and holes are being filled.
“Progress is terribly slow because I am tying in visits to the studio with my weekly shopping trips.”
Fortunately Gaynor had already bought the paint before the lockdown.
She’s planning to draw a mural on the wall beside stairs going down to the kiln – something fun for the children.
Then she aims to create a calm, homely feel, in the rest of the studio so people can come in for a few hours and relax.
“It is so therapeutic coming in and painting. I know that because I was a customer myself before buying the business. There’s a really lovely atmosphere.”
Gaynor has chosen colours from her new logo for the walls, a very deep red, and “a happy blue” which will show off the bisque to better effect.
The outside will be painted too, a raspberry red, a shade lighter than the red of the logo, and eventually the shop sign will be changed.
Gaynor said: “I’ve got millions of ideas, it’s just about being able to do them.”
Before closure she had already started offering refreshments, a variety of coffees, milk shakes, and drinks from a fridge.
And she has introduced party packages, gift cards, loyalty cards, and a Pay and Paint offer where you can pay the studio fee in advance for ten sessions and get two more free.
Now she’s thinking about stocking goods to supplement the pottery, such as battery-operated candles to go in the lanterns.
And she’s considering a gift-wrapping service, so that people making gifts can perhaps present them in a nice gift box.
“I’m look at all the areas where we can add to the experience, making it really nice, lovely for people.
“I just hope when we do open again people are able to come back.
“I know that doing fun stuff when you have not been earning money will not be top priority but lots of customers said they would be back when we opened again and that is really lovely.”
• Last week Kevin Markwick from The Picture House and Restaurant spoke about how the Coronavirus Pandemic was affecting his family business. See: Zero income now for Picture House but Bond film could save the day.