We started our third renovation project before we had even finished our second renovation. Only this project was a little more different that the other two. Our third renovation project was a commercial renovation. Not only did we renovate a building, we also opened a business at the same time.
Dora’s Cups & Cones was born from the result of one too many glasses of wine and the idea that our new neighbourhood would benefit from an ice cream parlour. It was a phenomenon which had taken the south coast of England by storm following the opening of the Sprinkles Ice cream store in Portswood, Southampton.
Our third renovation begins
It didn’t take us long to get the idea off the ground. Within a couple of weeks of that extra glass of wine, we had sourced the ideal property. We found a beautiful double level shop with the most gorgeous glass front. It was the perfect place for my shabby chic ideas – flowers, bunting, pastle shades and proper dairy ice cream – not that gelato rubbish!
It took four months to completely renovate the property, which we did in the evenings after finishing work. Whilst Darren fitted a bathroom, new fire doors, and a lot of floor tiling, I had the job of sourcing products, painting dressers and decoupaging stairs (which took me the best part of a month!) Together with my nan I made meters of bunting, using the best ice cream fabric which she had found locally.
Setting up our new business wasn’t cheap, and my Nan kindly lent us some money to get the ball rolling. In return, she became chief whip/managing director and any other executive title she wished to hold. We also named the shop after her – Dora’s Cups & Cones.
Not long after we began renovation of the shop, we received the heartbreaking news that my Nans cancer had become terminal, and she had just weeks to live. As chief whip, we wanted to make sure my Nan saw her shop, so despite not quite being finished, we opened Dora’s Cups & Cones on April 5th, 2014 – which was my Nans 72nd birthday.
Over the course of the year, we had great fun organising events and taking our vintage ice cream bike to parties and fetes. We continued to expand the product range, and held lots of birthday parties and baby showers for our customers. We made lots of great friends, too!
Owning Dora’s Cups & Cones was hard work! As well as running this business, Darren still ran his own double glazing business, and I worked part time in pharmacy. After my nan passed away, we wanted to be in the shop less and less, and after a nice break away in January, decided that the time had come to sell Dora’s Cups & Cones. But after the hard work we had put in, we didn’t want to sell the shop to just anybody.
Within a few weeks, we had a few prospective buyers, with one couple whom we really thought would take the business to a new level. Just a few weeks later we were handing over the keys to Andrea & Kevin, who now own Dora’s Cups & Cones in her new guise – The Songbird Southampton, and are taking the shop to the next level, after we lost the enthusiasm to pursue.
We had both always wanted to own a coffee shop, which we can now say that we’ve done it. And with the earnings made from the shop and sale, we’ve been able to realised another dream and have now bought a home abroad! Our Spanish town house has become our six renovation project.
** I’ve lost most of the photographs I took of Dora’s due to a malfunctioning iPhone, so I have used some photographs taken by the talented Sam Pierpoint, an artist who’s work was displayed in our shop. You can visit her website sampierpoint.com***