Every idea starts with a dream
That dream is to live in a place that inspires happiness. Happiness comes from connection. Connections happen because people build relationships – with the landscape and with each other.
The dream of resilient communities can be built on the values of partnership, integrity and hope for the future.
Read more about our theory of change, vision, mission and values here.
About our food markets
One August evening on a family holiday in the Dordogne, we made our way to the local market, and found the treasure that all tourists are looking for. Here was the community, embraced by the blue sky and sun-baked stone buildings of the town square. The air was full of the aromas of cooking and barbecuing, chattering and singing and French pop. It was buzzing. It was brilliant. This was a fragment of dream I wanted to bring home.
When I thought about how my family managed to eat out I realised the pleasure of being in a restaurant was lost in the stress of young kids with ants in their pants, thinking about dietary needs and compromising choices to account for what everyone’s tastes. And then the hole in the purse.
That’s where Seaton Eats Boutique came from. It wasn’t all plain sailing but we got going and have been received by the community with gusto to match the French. So successful has Seaton Eats Boutique been, in 2018 we took the format and created Sidmouth Eats Boutique and there too, the community have given their resounding support.
One of our leading values in running these events is to make them accessible to everyone, be it diet, physical or financial. We choose venues that everyone can get to and around, with nearby facilities, and places that have plenty of space for kids to run around. We offer choice.
Our events are all about community
More so than ever we need to get together in person and share the roller coaster of life. What better way than to do so than under the big open sky on a Friday evening? With the humble gesture of gathering around the table we nourish ourselves with great food, and with food we find commonality. We build bridges, we build relationships, we build community.
an evolving organisation
Unique Boutique Events is transforming. As a result of my exploration into social enterprise during 2020/21, over the winter of 2021/22 I will be working to set up a Community Interest Company.
A social enterprise is a business that makes profit, but the key difference is what happens to that profit. A social enterprise is committed to re-investing 51% or more of its profits back into the community. That means
- we make a positive contribution to our communities
- as a community interest company we will have an asset lock, which is a legal clause that protects the assets from unscrupulous or private gain.
- we pay people fair and square for the work they do
- we can apply for funding instead
- we have a set of values that our organisation adheres to
- these values inform the decisions that are made
- and these decisions are made by a group of people known as the board
- No one is sailing off into the sunset with massive profits
What does this mean for Unique Boutique Events?
- the positive contributions we make are numerous and layered, but one direct contribution is that we provide a free and accessible event for people to come together.
- ownership of the business will no longer sit in one person’s hands
- Eleanor, her staff and any freelance associates get paid a fair wage for the work they do in making the events happen.
- we can apply for funding to develop our events, instead of risking someone’s personal finance
- we tell you our WHY have a look here
- hereon in we’ll be asking civic leaders to align with the stated strategic goals and actively support local events
- and we’ll do this by creating a board of directors to make decisions about how our events evolve.
- Once everyone has been received fair remuneration surplus profit will be invested into developing more projects to benefit our community.
About our business, Unique Boutique Events
Unique Boutique Events registered in 2017 as a sole trader when it became apparent that our street food markets could become a viable business. I am working to make a sustainable business that can support other local industries, offer employment, and create further community events.
Until 2020 I hadn’t received direct sponsorship or financial investment to run any of my events, although I’ve had fantastic business support from funded enterprise agencies such as Business Information Point. During the quiet summer of 2020 I went through a rigorous 3 stage application process to be accepted onto The Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Start Up Programme, in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and jointly funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. The programme has given me the opportunity to take Unique Boutique Events to the next level in the way I think about what we do and why we do it, and crucially, how we do it.
Where it all began – contemporary craft markets
In 2010 I was working at the wonderful Exeter Phoenix and kept meeting people who were making incredible things on their kitchen tables. I wanted to fill the spaces at the Phoenix with all this creative output, along with a great vibe and good tunes. These creative people were living their dreams by creating income from doing what makes them happy. Over the years Unique Boutique evolved and grew and still the makers came. The support from Exeter Phoenix enabled this to happen – they’re ace, as are all the talented, creative and eclectic makers that come to sell. I am privileged that they choose Unique Boutique and delight in seeing their enterprises flourish.
I’m a bit like a dog in that I get excited by just about everything: food, creativity, people, stories. My diverse career travelling the world, working in hospitality, a degree in Art and the balm of nature all feed into the flavour of the events I run.
We moved from Exeter to East Devon on my birthday in 2011 and have set up our home with friends and children and school and cricket. I’m interested in investing in our community to make it a great place to live. Every day reveals another reason to love where we are, whether its the people, the landscape, the clean air or the sea.