Unexpected rural delight
14 January 2016
Clem Earl helped us collect Refugee Emergency Packs at her gorgeous rural shop near Tisbury. When we went to collect them before Christmas, she took time out of maternity leave to meet us at the shop with her gorgeous 6 month old Rafferty and tell us all about it.
Have you always wanted a shop?
‘Yes – when living in London a friend and I were always plotting to open a shop somewhere there. I worked at a catering company, where I met my husband Mitch, but after that I worked for Cath Kidston as her PA. It gave me loads of experience and insight into what it takes to run a shop. I was involved in everything from helping organise the catalogue and photo shoot and copy to stock levels in the shops. So I thought if Cath Kidston can do it so can I!
So how did you end up opening a shop in such a rural location?
Clementine’s shop is located in one of my parent’s barns at the home where I grew up. While working at Cath Kidston, Mitch and I started to think about moving out of London. We never intended to move back here, but when we mentioned a possible move to my parents their friends, who had a catering company, offered Mitch a job.
So in March 2006 we moved out of London and I started to think about how I could make my dream of having a shop a reality. I originally looked for a space in Tisbury until my mum suggested using one of their barns. Mum had always done her marbling and set-up the Compton Marbling Fairs there, so it was a destination locals were familiar with. 2006 was a busy year – we moved, married in September and the shop was open by December.
How have you found having your own shop?
To begin with it was really quiet and it was mainly loyal friends who would visit. However, holding the fairs in the same location meant locals soon realised there was a shop here too. My mum and I do the buying together so we get a good view across generations. We have something for everybody and some loyal customers who do all their Christmas shopping with us.
I love it and have met and made some really close friends through the shop. There’s no doubt it is demanding and balancing work and children has its challenges.
Tell us about your mum’s marbling
My father designed books for a printing press and when my mother went to look round she saw the marbling section and thought she’d love to learn that. So she took a course and set-up her own company ‘Compton Marbling’, selling end papers for books. It wasn’t long before she started making other items. I have memories of bringing my Sylvanian Family house to mum’s office while she worked. She still marbles today and makes items for the shop with the most popular being the lampshades, box files, address, visitor and sketch books. Despite digital photographs albums are still popular too.
And the Compton Marbling Fairs?
The fairs have been running for 35 years and started with my mum and her friends selling the things they made. There was my mother’s marbling, a friend with amazing cardigans, local artists, Christmas puddings from a friend’s catering company. It just took off from there. I now run the fours fairs we have throughout the year with mum - spring, autumn and two at Christmas. We try to have different businesses every year and have a real mix of stands including small local businesses. Mitch’s cafe Pythouse does the catering.
What are your favourite items in the shop?
I love the muslin swaddling cloth and sell a lot, but close to my heart is my mum’s lovely marbled wares and children’s items, especially traditional wooden toys because I love buying things in reference to my three boys. They love going through all the catalogues.
Are you pleased you moved back to where you grew up?
I love the familiarity of it all and that our boys; Joshua, 7 Orlando, 4 & Rafferty 8 months are following in my footsteps. They go to the same little village school in Semley that I went to – the office admin lady is still the same! We even go to the same holiday cottage in Wales where I spent all my holidays. I love it there – there’s no TV and it’s great taking my boys to the same beaches I went to. We love just hanging out as a family – playing football, walking or going on bike rides. One of my oldest friends Chloe also lives round the corner and one of my sisters isn’t too far away.
Clementine’s shop is open Tuesday to Friday 10.00am to 5.00pm and on Saturdays 10.00am to 4.00pm.
The 2016 Compton Marbling Fairs are on 22nd & 23rd April, 23rd & 24th September and 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th November.