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The Customer We Couldn't Get Rid Of

In 2010, local girl Julie Gifford, left her job in fashion design, returned to her home town of Grimsby and set up a small but perfectly formed pottery painting studio in neighbouring Cleethorpes.

The first few months were tough and she’d often hear people walking past say ‘That won’t last!’

Fast forward five years and Julie’s studio was buzzing with trade, had an outstanding reputation and was well and truly on the map.

One afternoon in late September 2014 a regular customer stopped by to paint with her nephew. She picked a plant pot for a wedding gift and her nephew chose an aeroplane. Julie had known this customer a long time as they danced together as children and she’d been coming to The Paint Box for a few years at this point.

The customer worked at a local secondary school as a technician and The Paint Box was her happy place to relax at a weekend.

As Julie and the customer chatted, Julie mentioned that she was hoping to go into education by training to be a teacher and that The Paint Box was up for sale.

The customer and her nephew finished painting and headed home, not giving much thought to the day’s conversation.

The customer loved her work, it paid well and gave her plenty of time off and after years of different jobs, she thought she’d finally found one she’d do for a good few years.

The customer trained as a Nursery Nurse in 1999 and had done so many different things waitressing, retail, education, social care … the last thing she was looking to do was change jobs again.

Three days after her painting session, the customer was at home recalling the conversation she’d had with Julie. She thought it was a lovely job it must be and all the people she knew would be good in the role. Then she realised that, yet again, she was selling herself short. You see the customer had suffered from anxiety and OCD her whole life which stopped her from doing so many things she would have loved and been good at.

The more she thought about it the more she fell in love with the idea of owning The Paint Box. But she was too anxious remember, her OCD would be in overdrive… there was no way she could do it… was there?

She asked herself “Am I going to do this my whole life, keep passing up on opportunities that the universe had put in my path?”

No, she wasn’t, not this time! She was creative, good with children, had retail and customer service experience and her future husband said he’d support her. She was going for it! She wasn’t going to get to 50 and look back with regrets, wishing she’d done it!

In January 2015 the customer became the owner. She was thrilled but could never have imagined how much joy lay ahead of her, how all that doubt and anxiety would be replaced with a sense of being just where she was meant to be.

She married later that year and became pregnant with her beautiful daughter a few months later.

As the years passed the new owner fell in love with The Paint Box more and more. As she sits and writes this blog her eyes fill with happy tears. This is her forever job, her place in the universe and more than she could have ever hoped it would be.

The Paint Box is now in its 13th year of trading and the ‘new owner’… that’s me… Rachel Harvey, is now its longest-standing owner with almost 8 years of pottery painting under my belt and the knack for capturing even the smallest of baby handprints and footprints.

So that’s our story, in a nutshell, I hope it inspires you to follow a dream, take a chance or realise that you are capable of more than you think you are. I hope that you feel the joy and passion I have for what I do and that if you haven’t already, you pay us a visit and take a little piece of joy away with you.

We only have one rule here at The Paint Box and that’s ‘Laughter, mess and joy compulsory’

👩‍🎨 Rach x


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👩‍🎨 For same day bookings, please call the studio, 01472 485 100