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In fact, you could say that Keep it in Kent is our honeymoon baby, as it was conceived at the beginning of September 2014 and born a couple of weeks later on our return home from our honeymoon.
Picture this: there we were, sitting by the pool contemplating our lives (as you do). Thinking just how grateful we were - not just to have had such a beautiful wedding with all our friends and family a few days previously. Not just lucky to be enjoying a fantastic break in a luxurious Spanish spa hotel... but lucky to be living in Kent.
For Steve, it was an entirely different story. He felt lucky because he had recently escaped the daily grind of the commute into the City of London, and was enjoying the freedom of owning his own Kent-based IT consultancy.
Every day was different for Steve. He would drive around the county marvelling as he went, at the stunning Kentish countryside. He would spend his days servicing and getting to know a wide range of brilliant and interesting Kentish businesses - from lawyers to kitchen manufacturers, from estate agents to security specialists.
At the end of the working day, Steve would collect Tina from Ashford train station. And he would invariably point to a cardboard box on the back seat of the car. Inside, like a grown-up lucky dip, would be a selection of fresh organic produce wrapped in brown paper bags that he'd just bought from a farm shop he'd passed, or from a locally owned baker, greengrocer, fishmonger or butcher.
It was whilst contemplating all of this, just a couple of days into our honeymoon that the penny finally dropped. There are so many fantastic opportunities for businesses to thrive in Kent, it seemed crazy for Tina to be continually looking to London for customers. As if London was the be all and end all. Yes, there are a lot more customers in London, but what about Kent? And as we chatted, one of us (Tina swears it was her, but Steve insists it was him!) proclaimed:
Not content with just making a decision about our own businesses, we realised that there was something we could/should be doing to get everyone realising not just how it's possible to trade in Kent, but that if we live in Kent and we own a business, then it's actually extremely important that we support our Kent businesses too.
And so (as they say) the rest is history. Just over a year later, we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm we have had for our idea, and the offers of support and collaboration from so many Kentish businesses. We are growing Keep it in Kent organically. Given what we're trying to do, It seems kind of apt, but it's also so we can get to know our supporters. But it is definitely snowballing. We though our goal to become a widely recognised and supported campaign for Kent businesses was rather ambitious. But one thing we've learnt is that ambitious goals are more likely to come true - particularly if they are for the benefit of the wider community, and not just our own business, or our own little family.
So if you like our story, if any of it chimes with you, then we'd love to have you sharing the rest of the journey with us! Whether you're a business owner or not, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter - Or perhaps you'd like to sign up to our occasional newsletter to be kept informed about what Keep it in Kent is doing for Kent businesses and residents, receive invitations to our events, and receive offers from our members before anyone else? If so, please click below:
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If you are both a business and a resident please choose Independent Kent Business in the options below
If you're an independent business owner, we'd love to work together with you to influence and change the spending habits of Kent residents and businesses alike. You're welcome to sign up for a free listing in our directory, but the best way to really show your support, and get great value from your involvement is to become a Business Member.
We've deliberately kept the cost of Business Membership of Keep it in Kent to a minimum, and as well as providing plenty of proactive promotional support/services, we have lined up loads of special offers and freebies that will ensure excellent value. That's because we want to make it a "no brainer" join: the more business that are actively involved, the better Keep it in Kent will be for everyone.
So jump on board today, because together we really can help Kent flourish!