I’ve just finished reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and I feel much better thank you. It was an easy and compelling read, which is good as I don’t have the hugest concentration span. I found it inspiring, grounding and comforting at a time when I’ve felt lost and adrift. And I was delighted to find that there were so many extra gifts in the acknowledgements, where the writer shares how hard it is to write a novel and how many people helped him knowingly or unknowingly along the way. I absolutely love my job but I find it hard to do what I do. It’s sometimes so hard that I need to find new ways of doing it. And at times like these I really am grateful for all the love that surrounds me. The kindness, help, support and good fortune that snuggles me up like a favourite blanket.
So, there are changes afoot. And Oooooh I don’t like changes! There’s so much comfort in the familiar, and shaking things up makes me feel quite wobbly. But I really do need this and if I had a superpower I think it would be my way of finding different ways of doing the same thing…
It’s not News but I will say it again. January has seen the final closure of my dear Little Mustard Shop in Brighton. There’s heartbreak there as many of you will know. And as I’m cutting back there will be fewer new works available through Sam Toft Originals and no Big Show planned for 2022. Furthermore after the loss of Grandpa Ray, there’ll be a paring back of items available from Nan’s MustardShop mailorder in Cornwall
But just so it’s not all gloom ‘n doom, I’ve had a few new ideas I’d love to tell you about. There will be further details in my newsletter mid-February, so if you know someone who may be interested you could ask them to sign up to this email list? Rachel and Nan are running out of time to be answering so many direct messages…
This is what we have in store:
LITTLE MUSTARD CLUB
One of the things I am learning is that I can’t be all things to all people. And if I am to continue to effortlessly create pictures, sculptures and stories for The Wonderful World of Mustard, I need to find a way of doing less (but offering more). Following the sad closure of my Brighton shop, we are creating something more. As the song goes (from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?), from the ashes of destruction grow the roses of success.
Introducing Little Mustard Club!
We will be using the social media accounts from the little shop (Instagram @littlemustardclub and Facebook) to host our Little Mustard Club. But as I’m an old fashioned sort, we are also planning a lovely little welcome pack to be sent to your door. There will be monthly prizes online (via email and Instagram), members only offers and hopefully one or two exclusive events with us at my own private studio near the sea. We have no idea of what to expect this year in terms of face to face meetings, so our ‘in person’ plans may be subject to change. But the LittleMustardClub online will initially run for 2022 and then we can review for 2023.
We have no wish to be super busy with thousands of members. Little Mustard Club will be a very limited affair and run from my studio by a wonderful woman called Amber Elise (whose name some may recognize from the social media). A talented painter, print maker, mural creator, designer and until recently she ran her own shop, Little Shop Bristol. Amber now lives in Brighton and alongside her own creative pursuits she also curates my Dog & Bone Gallery (recently featured in the Guardian!). Working together we will bring you exclusive content (via social media and email newsletters) and studio events where possible. Right now, as we begin to dream up welcome packs for our 1st March launch, you could register your interest by emailing TELL ME MORE to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are firming up the details and I will send another email mid February with all the news and then it’s over to Amber, you lucky people! Our initial thoughts are that we could take about 50-ish members a month, costing you around £50 a year whenever you join, the welcome pack would be worth around £40 and comes with monthly giveaways, at least one studio event, insider info, exclusive content and dare I say it, this would be an perfect gift.
THE NEW MUSTARDSHOP ONLINE
We are planning to scale down the items available at our online shop at www.samtoft.co.uk Focusing more on bespoke items, exclusive remarques and self published prints. And we will be launching 4 more exclusive prints in tiny editions in the near future. I believe there are thousands of outlets online where you can buy SamToft products the world over. We can’t compete with the quick service, free postage and keen prices you’d get from Amazon and the like, and neither do we want to. Nan will continue to offer beautifully wrapped packages with little extras and genuine authentic Sam Toft products but she wishes to be less busy, so we will be phasing out all of the products you can buy elsewhere (we will be suggesting alternative mail order retailers). My sister who runs Mustard Hampers now has a very successful coaching business and will be spending less time and energy in Mustardland. In my next newsletter I will lay out our plans more fully.
There are more and more companies and individuals producing fake merchandise of inferior quality. I have neither the energy nor the desire to follow these up. The fraudsters have a big impact on the legitimate publishers’ businesses and their ability to continue producing high quality items. If you buy from unrecognized suppliers you will be receiving inferior goods, I will not be receiving any royalty and the cheeky chancers will be making money illegally. But hasn’t it always been the way? It is infuriating but I could also choose to view it as the ultimate in flattery. And as suppliers are constantly changing, many resell work unofficially and most do not have the full range, it is not practical for me to offer lists of bona fides. In my next newsletter I will introduce a very short list of my favourite suppliers (who stock a large range of items and offer excellent customer service – let me know by return if you think you should be on my list) and a contact to report suspicious activities to!
In the mean time if you would like to receive a copy of my new book Keep On Keeping On (a limited edition of 1000 self published copies made November last year, a third of which now remain) please contact City Books Brighton for a signed copy. They also have the last of my 2022 calendars and offer mail order. Or if it is part of another purchase (Nan won’t be sending out individual books) there are a small number gorgeous greyboard hardbacks in adorable little cloth gift bags on MustardShop. There is no other way to get these other than through my website. But they may be offered among the monthly giveaways to members of Little Mustard Club. Just for saying.
I saw snowdrops and celandines on my walk yesterday.
Hope springs eternal.
Until we meet again.
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