Would you please introduce yourselves...
Simon and Lynda Evans (both 45) and daughter Rosa aged 9, from Trowbridge, Wilts.
Your business Arty Kids Pottery is a very popular addition at many VW shows. How did it come about?
We first saw the idea of a pottery painting stall about 15 years ago on a day out at an Adventure Park. Although it was busy, it was very expensive as most things are at these places.
It immediately got us thinking.... What if we could make our own to keep the costs down, the Adventure Park were using a bought in product called Bisque, although very good, its expensive.
Initially we also bought a range in, but, found we were having to charge £5-£8 per item to make any money. This wasn't what we started out to do, we have 5 children so we know too well how expensive these things can be when out for the day.
So, we started sourcing various types of plaster and trying out different types of moulds to pour into.
Once we found the right combination we were off and running. We now have over 100 different items to choose from and our prices range from £1- £5. We're very proud that we have something for everyone, even if you had a big family.
We started out by attending lots of school fetes and village days where it was always a popular stall.
So where did the VW link come in, and, how did you come to trade at VW shows....
I'm a decorator during the week and whilst I was working in a bankrupt builders yard I came across a T5 sat in the corner looking extremely sad and neglected. It had been a mini digger hire van, so had spent all its life covered in concrete and mud, and hadn't even been started for a year!
After a bit of negotiation I soon became the new owner, my knowledge of VW's was non existent but some friends of mine owned T5's so I immediately sought their advice.
It turned out I had acquired an absolute bargain, a 2007 2.5tdi with 57000 miles, full VWSH for £5300. I didn't even notice it had 6 gears til it was pointed out to me!
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures straightaway as I really didn't know I had such a bargain, so the first ones are after a good clean.
Randomly the potential of the van only dawned on me at a car boot sale one Sunday morning. A seller had a white T5 behind his stall, I couldn't believe how different it looked, sparkling with chrome and different shaped spoilers. I got talking, (well asking questions), and he told me about the vast array of modifications available, and, more importantly the upcoming Bristol Volksfest.
Intrigued, we took the kids down to see what all the fuss was about....OMG the vans, the stalls, the lovely people, the atmosphere, we were completely blown away by it.
The ideas and inspiration was endless. I did buy a set of angel eye headlights for £180 which I was over the moon with. We decided we would call the van Bob! We have since spent £1000's on modifying it, and, it has become a real family vehicle, with an extra 2 seats in the middle, carpet lined, re-mapped, Range Rover Stormer wheels, sportline spoiler with open mouth panel, drls, side bars, roof bars, red chequered roof (which we love as we haven't come across anyone else with it!), re-trimmed seats, blue LEDs, the list goes on....!
The biggest impetus however, was meeting Richie Richards the organiser of Dorset Dubfest. He had a stall promoting his upcoming event. Whilst walking past we were handed a flyer, we literally walked on and then stopped and looked at each other.... What if we could take the stall to one of these events?! There were kids everywhere, surely it would go down well. So back we went, to tell Richie what we did, he couldn't have been more helpful and said he would love to have us.
The rest as they say is history! We attended and did fantastically well. Everyone was very kind and said what a fab stall it was. We came back and found there is actually a VW show calender!! We booked every show in the southwest for the remainder of the season!
So what is the set-up....what should people expect...
We are a very colourful child friendly stall, we always encourage the kids to take their time and create their own little masterpiece. Rosa our 9 year old has now been working the stall for 5 years and is superb at helping the kids with tips and ideas on how to paint, she also takes the money, washes up and cleans the tables!
So how has it gone...
We are now an established stall on the VW scene. Having attended Devon Dubfest, Dorset Volksfest, Dubs in the Forest, Dubs in the Middle, Dubs at the Pub, Dubs at the Beach, Dubs at the Castle, Totally VAG, Volksfest Wales. Whilst at the Castle we were approached by Busfest and asked if we would attend their huge event! We get to see lots of familiar faces and have made some great friends.
And the future...
We have added a range of VW fridge magnets, Split screens and bay windows T25's, T4's and T5's, all of which we have had made especially for us.
We are now working on a range of VW paint your own bunting and mirror hangers possibly as air fresheners. All lots of great new additions.
Our ultimate aim is to do this full time and have a children's pottery painting cafe, either here in Trowbridge or somewhere by the sea. Newquay is where our heart is, we spend as much time as we can there and in Cornwall as possible!
Any advice for anyone starting out....
Find or create something that's original and reasonably priced. Most of the shows are for families with children, affordability we have found is the key. We are always being told how affordable we are compared to 'the pottery painting shop in town', this is because we make it all ourselves and don't just buy in-sell on.
It's great to earn money in this way and we do well but we are most definatly in it for the lifestyle, we have met some amazing people and made some great friends.....all because of Bob our T5 VW van!