Hidden Valley itself has seen enormous change! We have a new name – Hidden Valley Broome. We dropped the Handcrafts with its connotations of knitting supplies and switched to how we are mostly known. And we launched our new Shopify website on October 23, after nearly 18 months of development – a really huge journey, as our web designer Jenelle Reynolds in Geraldton will attest! We hope you are finding it easier to order. Our first week was massive, with several trips to the Post Office every day. Certainly it’s good to be mobile friendly and able to take payments immediately. We did offer Paypal as a payment option, but have decided to remove it as it is expensive and difficult to use. Credit card is easy, and direct deposit is a slower option. There are a few ongoing glitches, some photos need to be improved, and please let us know if you find anything amiss. However, do rest assured that we still love to hear your voices on the phone, and we can easily take orders that way or via email – anything that works for you. A couple of old friends still send us cheques or money orders by mail, and that is perfectly ok.
This year our Russian Valentina left us to have her beautiful baby Leo, and Adrianna also left soap production, but we were joined by sweet Rachel in the shop and admin & mail orders, and also by high energy passionate Katrin in production – our first full time staff member since early days. Rachel’s help with the website has been invaluable. Katrin is happily making beautiful soap with Smokey every Tuesday morning, and then learning all the complex skin care production with Ali on Wednesdays and other times. Both women are just amazing - intelligent, energetic and kind, and it is an absolute joy to have such shared values and easy energy. They understand that we are not just making and selling products but anchoring and sharing love in our small area of contributing to a better world. We are also grateful to have lovely Jan, who many locals will know as an ex-Broome hospital nurse. Jan actually volunteers to helping us with packaging and labelling for 2 afternoons a week, just to give her retirement some enjoyable structure!. Just recently our kind and capable ace business development champion and friend Taryn (from Business E3) has joined us to help implement all our new systems (whew, what a relief!). Ali’s sister Jenny in Geraldton continues to support us with fab bookkeeping & ideas. And young Hannah has ably helped Smokey each Saturday at the markets, so he can focus more on chatting to the customers.
The year started slowly with Ali just sneaking in a trip to Vietnam for new teeth in February before the borders shut. Then the crash came, we had to almost shut the shop, began delivering locally, made protective products, and experienced the strangeness of our first few months of Dry Season with Kimberley borders closed and no tourists here! We snuck in a great little family trip up the Gibb River Road, and almost had those fabulous gorges to ourselves, a rare treat. Business was way down of course, but we hung in there, were greatly helped by Jobkeeper and BAS support, and then Wham! The Kimberley borders opened for the July holidays and so many West Australians decided to visit Broome! Since then we have experienced our best year yet, and we are truly confident about our future. Not only are shop sales up, so are mail orders, particularly to Victoria and to WA. Many West Australians have wanted to send care packages to Victoria (isn’t that nice?). Most businesses in Broome have been as busy as we, and as grateful. With borders to most states opening soon, we know that all will be well. The most difficult dilemmas for us have been facing shortages in packaging and ingredients (eg. soy wax), and keeping up with demand! The soapmakers will need to continue well into the hot season just to have enough for Christmas!