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How NOT to retire ! – start an artisan business !

How NOT to retire ! – start an artisan business !
7th January 2020 Admin

Hi everyone,

Thank you for reading my previous blog about Ron changing direction – from being a builder, to becoming an amazing chef. I had more clicks on the blog than ever before. I know that some of you are customers who have stuck with us since we opened the farm shop. Many thanks for your loyalty. I think that there must be some new readers, too. If you have time, please introduce yourself by leaving a comment. It would be great to get to know you.

My previous blog about Ron learning to cook with a celebrity chef helped prepare us for smallholder life …. it provided him with the skills to open his own professional kitchen on our small-holding.

Now I’ll tell you about my change in direction …. and the new skills I developed which are now helping me run the smallholding and our farm shop as businesses. This is my move from “employee” to “self-employed”……….. from teacher to company director……… Although I thoroughly enjoyed my 30+ years in teaching and I can honestly say that there was never a day when I didn’t look forward to the chalk face …… I always longed to run my own business. And when you retire at 55, you start thinking about it……….

So, one day, back in suburbia, Ron and I were in Fenwicks in Newcastle…. We were planning to host a small dinner for neighbours in aid of Smooth Radio’s Marie Curie Charity event  ……. but I had no table mats !!! Agh ! Quelle horreur ! Living in my colour-coordinated trendy town house and ….. no place mats !!!!  No problem. Fenwicks sold some lovely slate table mats for £17 each. “I’m having those”, I said. “You’re not”, said Ron. “I’ll make you some – they’ll be much cheaper “. Ron picked up some slate from a builders’ yard, a cutting machine – and away he went. You can see the result in this photograph.

If you have eaten in our café, you may recognise the tables and chairs.


A couple of days after the dinner, Ron asked me to look at Ebay. Slate place mats and coasters were selling – and fast !

Ron reminded me that I had wanted to run a business. He suggested that we should simply try making and selling slate products. And he knew a great place called Anglesey where he could buy good quality slate………

The place mats, coasters and sushi plates we sold on Ebay

Within a month, we were up and running. Couldn’t believe it… Zusammen Dining was in business. We sold to hotels restaurants and to couples wanting huge numbers of place mats for their weddings! Amazing.

For me, this experience was life-changing. I was a businesswoman, an entrepreneur. Manufacturing products, selling and making a great profit. Absolutely life-changing. I didn’t know I had the skills to do this.


Within six months, and

with Ron’s help, I had set up our education and training consultancy Zusammen Ltd which has been trading since around 2012.

These were my first steps into business. I’m having a great time.

In my next blog, I’ll tell you where Ron and I go from here…. How we went to Anglesey, how we found the beautiful Bryn Celyn……… How our new skills are helping us make a success of our idyllic smallholding on Anglesey, North Wales.

If you would like to make sure that you see my blog, please join our email list by emailing Those of you on our email list will be part of a monthly draw for a £20 voucher to buy products in our shop or online from us.

By for now, Margaret x


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