Turning your Dream Shop into a Reality

I think we’ve all dreamt of opening our own shop at some point, haven’t we? Mine would be a books-and-cake place, with wine in the evening. The interiors would be heaven, and I would swan around meeting my public and generally enjoying myself.  In reality, I know that there is a lot less swanning around involved with running a business. It is proper hard graft and I have the utmost respect for anyone who takes on the challenge.

I met Antonia Sanchez-Toomey a few months ago on Instagram and saw that as well as launching a blog (like me!) she had recently taken the plunge and opened a shop, Tinker Tailor in Enfield, North London. Last week I went to meet her, check out the store and chat about her hopes and dreams for the business.

Tinker Tailor shop owner Antonia Sanchez-Toomey pictured outside her shop in Enfield, London

Tinker Tailor opened in September 2017, and it’s more than a shop and more than a cafe. It’s a shopping, eating, chatting, social hub. With workshops sprinkled on top.

Antonia describes it as a lifestyle destination, “Tinker Tailor is born from my mission to improve and enhance my own life by taking a chance on myself. In spite of all those daft voices in my head that so often hold us back”.

Shop til you drop

The boss admits, “I’m a shopper. I get a rush when I see something I really like. I want people to have that feeling when they come here”.

Pretty, minimal soaps and candles by Sevin London catch my eye, and Neon Marl slogan sweatshirts, there are baskets, pretty notepads, jewellery and more. “I want people to be excited about my stock, and for this to be somewhere you can discover new brands”, says Antonia.

The shop is a converted butcher’s, and still maintains an industrial feel. But it has been repurposed for the needs of the high street in 2018, so now there is a coffee machine behind the counter and tables for people to gather around.

Selection of items from the Tinker Tailor Shop in Enfield North London
Things that caught my eye on the shelves at Tinker Tailor, including a pink grapefruit candle by Join, and cake, of course.

The road to the high street

Antonia describes her journey to opening Tinker Tailer “higgledy-piggledy”. She is half English, half Spanish and mum to three girls. She’s worked in the travel industry, started small businesses, and then became a teacher.

But two years ago she reached a point where she was deeply unhappy with her career, “I looked into the future and thought, do I really want to be doing this for the next 20 years? I just didn’t”.

“I have always liked the idea of working for myself, I like being free, and I always felt that I could tap into what people wanted”.

Read about how career coaching helped me change the record playing in my head

Basket with pom poms Tinker Tailor Shop in Enfield London

Blogger life

A shop was always the end goal. But while she waited for the right opportunity to come up Antonia launched her own blog, Tinker Tailer Online. She felt it would be useful to develop an online audience for the brand.

“For a long time, I had been reading blogs, thinking ‘I could do this’ too”.

“Blogging took off in a way I didn’t expect and I started working with well-known brands like Next and Marks & Spencer, but making money from a blog is really hard. People’s perception of the lifestyle is very different to the reality.”

Stocking products by local independent companies like Join is central to Antonia’s vision for the Tinker Tailor brand

A space to learn

As a former teacher, she is passionate that teaching, learning and mentoring plays a part in the Tinker Tailor brand.

There is a timetable of creative workshops on things like social media training, screen printing, even arm knitting. It’s hoped that the shop can become a place for groups and small businesses to meet and inspire one another.

“I have met so many people who are trying to re-write the rule book on how women operate in the workplace and how we manage our lives and career, I want to be part of that and offer that service to other people”.

Antonia Sanchez-Toomey and photographer Tia Talula
A place to hang out. Antonia with photographer Tia Talula

Keeping it real

“It’s a dream, but sometimes it doesn’t feel very dreamy”.

Six months into the Tinker Tailor bricks and mortar enterprise and Antonia admits that day to day it is “incredibly hard, and definitely not for the faint-hearted. The hours, the responsibility, the really dull stuff like worrying about whether we have enough milk…”

She says that she is “managing a work-life balance that no longer exists”, but she’s driven by a desire to make the business work and create the kind of future she wants for herself and her family.

Products by Sevin London and Lollia pictured at Tinker Tailor Shop
More goodies, including soap, body oil and pumice by Sevin London and hand cream by Lollia

Brightly coloured string shopping bags at Tinker Tailor shop

The next phase of the project is to launch a range of branded Tinker Tailor products such as clothing, candles and homeware. Antonia is working with small brands such as Neon Marl and Join candles. The aim is to take the business beyond the high street by collaborating with other ambitious independent companies.

Colourful purses Tinker Tailor Shop

The Last Word

“Tinker Tailor is about dream chasing. I’m proving that – yes – you absolutely can follow your dream and make it happen for yourself, as cheesy as that sounds. I built Tinker Tailor with nothing but an idea and a big leap of faith. I’ve just got to make it work now”.

Antonia Sanchez-Toomey, founder, Tinker Tailor Online

What’s Not About the Kids?

Do you have dreams of starting a business? Please share them, perhaps it’ll take them a step closer to becoming a reality…

 

10 Comments

    • I have total respect for anyone who takes it on, such a serious commitment. But I can see the appeal, to have a place all of your own that is totally how you want it to be. If I lived closer to Tinker Tailor I’d work in there all day! Thanks for reading M, have a good week x

  • I have been following this lady for a while and as the shop is only about an hour away I will visit soon. I recently did a modern calligraphy workshop in Thaxted and I believe Sandra is also doing a workshop here, really enjoyed it x

    • Hi Lynne, thanks for visiting my blog :). Yes, I think that they have got calligraphy coming up at Tinker Tailor. Perhaps watch out for a class you fancy that’ll make it worth the trip? Nice to support businesses like this…otherwise they can’t survive. Helen x

    • Thank you Kate, glad you enjoyed the pictures. I think there will be more places like this popping up. Hopefully in Caversham! Helen

  • Loved reading this blog Helen. I’ve followed Antonia on IG for a while now and was so inspired when she set up her shop – she’s a great example of following your dreams. It really reflects her own style and I love that she uses it as a showcase to represent more independent brands too. If I was local it would definitely be on my list of places to shop.

    • Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if we could meet up for a coffee there Juliana? It was great to see Antonia in situ and hear about her plans for the business. Hopefully it will go from strength to strength. Thanks for reading, I love to see your comments pop up. Hx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *