The birth of Just Real Humans is something I remember like it was yesterday, although I won’t get carried away with some romantic notion.
It was Autumn 2019, and I was cleaning our bathroom in our beautiful and very quirky log cabin that we were lucky to call our home in the Kent countryside. Paul came in and we had already started throwing an idea around, but for some reason at that time we spoke more at depth and were getting quite excited about putting a plan together to launch a sustainable, positivity clothing brand that had ethics, was vegan friendly; even though at the time we were only vegetarian, and knowing that the clothes had to be more than just standard. While throwing around some names and chewing on them a while, ‘Just Real Humans’ hit the sweet spot.
We then originally launched JRH to be about positive messages above anything else. It was ok to start with, but we weren’t quite there. We wanted to have more meaning behind us, more soul, and more than just a few positive quotes on a t-shirt.
So, we grew further.
Within that growth we changed up our website, we added and took away garments, got designing and printing with fresh ideas. We thought a little bit more outside the box, upgraded our packaging, threw out old designs and ideas and added a little more of that brand soul and culture we were missing, but then, we also made the decision to emigrate!
We sure don’t do anything by halves, in-fact I think at times we are of complete madness, although as Alice once said to the mad hatter:
"Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice, I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are."
- 'Alice In Wonderland'.
So, with that secret in mind, I feel it’s completely necessary to feel at peace with all our little mad decisions, ha-ha!
We were lucky enough to pack up and move during a small break in the Global Pandemic of 2020 and hit the ground running. In October ’20, we loaded up our newly bought second hand Spanish car, (found only just days before we left the UK as we were told our UK car wouldn’t make it to the end of the road, let alone Spain!), and with our son and daughter bundled in with us, we travelled for three days on a mini road trip down through France and into Spain – towards our new home!
I can quite honestly say that JRH had to basically start again once we arrived. We had to pause our website while we were on the road, and by the time we settled in and were out of ‘holiday mode’, we realised that we barely liked any of the designs or ideas we had previously launched! Our minds and our ethos were running at a faster rate than we could keep up with. More soul and more brand culture were needed for JRH to be stronger than before. We were now also fully vegan too, so knew that everything we did and produced had to fit within our lifestyle and ethos to remain true to our core values.
So, we set about opening a shop!
Just 250m from La Zenia Beach, in the height of the August heat of 2021, we did exactly that and opened our doors for the first time. It was unreal and a true experience. In fact, the whole of August and September, and even into the beginning of October we were just so busy. Our shop was greatly received. We were the first concept store this side of the Orihuela Costa; and most likely further afield. We had a sustainable ethos like no other clothing store, with organic clothing and recycled garments, eco-friendly goods and a brand that was praised by many. Our shop was constantly admired for its quirkiness and unique style. These are not boastful points, merely true ones.
We felt very humbled and lucky until the walls came crashing down a little around us during the winter months of 2021, and into the beginning of 2022. The footfall died off in droves, and we spent many a day empty. We were putting all the stops out there; trying our darn’ best, but it was to no avail and we eventually had to succumb to the ‘ROAD’ and close our doors for one final time.
In business you have to make sound decisions even if it’s hard and hurtful. Closing our shop amidst grief from loss, a multitude of problems, and sadness around us felt like a sucker punch to the gut but looking back it was the best decision we could have made. Do we miss the shop? Hell no! We are surely glad we can live to tell the tale. It shows that our personalities are that of adventure and trial, because if you don’t try then you never know. We are so lucky that most customers who came into our shop; many of which we can call friends, have since graced us with their presence at one of our summer pop-up shop events, and have continued to support us online.
We learned that JRH certainly has some grit, so we looked to continue onwards!
After a short, but definitely much needed break from closing the shop, recalculating, reorganising and bettering JRH, we launched our latest phase even more determined to succeed. The brand soul and culture we are always seeking has gone up a notch or two, and we are beginning to get to where we want to be.
We have enjoyed a successful ‘summer of love’ with our pop-up shop events. We worked hard to bring a brand new and updated website to the table, and we worked often late into the night designing our wonderful pop-up shop. We have finally got to a design standpoint with our garments where we love each and every item we design, print, and launch. We have introduced more collections, designs from other great designers and have begun to provide handmade goods that are fully made in-house. We have also released our online Sunday Journals (you’re reading one now), which are perfect for those lazy coffee mornings, plus there is so much more planned for the road ahead.
Working with amazing people and friends who have contributed to JRH these past few months has been amazing, refreshing and rewarding. We are stronger than ever and are truly grateful to all our fabulous customers and supporters - you know who you are, and we thank you.
I would be lying to you if I said it’s been an easy road, far from it; we have had highs and lows throughout, but as the saying goes, ‘anything worth doing doesn’t come easy’ – that we can say is definitely true.
Next month we celebrate three years of JRH and are super excited for our future. We’re proud that through all the tough times, we are still standing strong, believing in our brand and all we want it to achieve. Together let’s go from strength to strength and continue to believe in our core values and communicate consistently within those.
To believe in your brand is to be your brand, and to believe in our brand means we believe in ourselves.
In this journal entry we visit to Finca La Castellana animal sanctuary, and take a closer look at the alternative to a world of paid-for-pets. Knowing what it is we actually contribute too by supporting pet shops and breeders, helps us know why choosing to adopt and not shop is better for 10 great reasons; for both the animal and us.
What does it mean to be a just real human? I had to pause and think about the reaction to this question, not because I found it hard to answer, but because I had too much to say, as there are many traits that I think make humans decent...