I am often asked who and what are The Simpson Sisters which is an entirely reasonable question, it’s fair to say that nothing in the name gives away what it is that The Simpson Sisters is all about! So, I thought perhaps it was time to share a bit about the who, what and why.
Who are we?
Well really it’s just me! I am one of four sisters, and Simpson was indeed our maiden name. We all now use our married names and very simply I rather liked the ring of ‘The Simpson Sisters’ and thought it would not only make a good name for a business, but would be a nice way to continue the name somehow. I have spent the greater part of my adult life living overseas and it was while living in Belgium about five years ago that I registered the domain name, fondly thinking to myself that one day perhaps I would return to the UK and could set ‘something’ up with one or more of my sisters. Working with my sisters hasn’t quite happened yet as they are all rather busy doing other things, but who knows what the future will bring.
What is it that I do?
My return to the UK in 2015 was unexpected as we had very recently moved to Sweden and brought with it once again the question of what to do with my life. Our many moves and time abroad had left me with the feeling that I had left a career behind and was little qualified for anything. I did in fact find a job, and also undertook some additional training, but office life as an employee does not fill me with joy and contentment and I knew that I had to find something more creative in order to feel fulfilled. I have always wanted to work for myself and was seeking something that would utilise the skills and experience I have accrued over the years. Just before moving to Sweden I was extremely lucky to be offered the opportunity to participate in the pilot of an online group coaching programme aimed at expat partners. This programme enabled me to identify the value in all the skills and experiences I had accumulated over the years and it was returning to the work I had done on this programme that brought me to the conclusion that, very simply, ‘doing something creative with other people’ is something I find enjoyable, satisfying and which leaves me feeling content.
I have always loved making things, and having enjoyed many creative workshops and courses over the years in various locations, and having made many friends in the process, I began to think that this was something I could explore. On assessing my skills I acknowledged that creating an attractive, comfortable and welcoming environment alongside cooking and baking were amongst them, whilst my abilities in specialist creative activities such as lino printing and watercolour painting were limited to say the least! I am however always willing to try something new and happy to ‘have a go’.
So, collaboration with others seemed like the way forward and although I do run some workshops on my own I very much enjoy working with others to offer what I hope is an interesting variety of things to try. My intention is very much encouraging people to simply have a go at something creative while enjoying a friendly, relaxed and sociable day whilst being plied with delicious food. I hope that people leave workshops feeling as though they have had a spa day without the chlorine or a massage!
Why and how does Oak Tree Barn come into all this?
Over the last year, alongside establishing The Simpson Sisters, my husband and I had embarked upon the conversion of a barn in the village in which I grew up. It’s a long story (you can read a little more here), but in brief it’s a barn that we bought from my parents when they moved from the village while we were overseas. I felt sentimental about Burrington and although it was deemed highly unlikely that we would ever get planning permission to convert it we took a giant punt and made the investment in the hope that it wouldn’t be a bad decision.
We were immensely fortunate in that shortly after purchasing the barn the government decided that various categories of properties should have the opportunity to apply for a change of use within the permitted development category (I leant a lot about planning!). At this point in our lives our daughters were at boarding school in the UK in order to give them the chance to complete their GCSEs without being disrupted by another move, and having a little base in the UK seemed absolutely ideal. So we began the project……..and unbelievably my husband was then asked to return to the UK!
The barn was nowhere near habitable when we returned, not really big enough to accommodate us all, counties away from my husband’s job and further from the girls’ school than we would like. But I love it here and so does the rest of the family. So, we took the decision to live near school so the girls could stop boarding and for my husband to commute weekly. We agreed to go ahead with the conversion and try to make it all work somehow. It’s not perfect and we never planned to have two properties. But, I so enjoy making and sharing a comfortable, happy home and by sharing them with others I hope to make sense of it all.
The barn is my happy place, being here makes me smile on even the most miserable days. I hope that in both offering Simpson Sisters workshops here, and helping others run workshops here too, I can share the pleasure that it brings me.
While my sisters are not practically involved in the business I wouldn’t have got this far without their support in myriad ways. From attending workshops, teaching one of my very first, encouraging me via social media ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, sharing interesting and relevant links, blogs and podcasts with me and just generally being in my corner.
I am super grateful to be where and who I am 🙂
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