Birthday Special: The Break In

From day one my biggest fear has been something happening to one of the shops.  A fire or break in would be disastrous.  Of course we have insurance but you can't really make up for not being there for your customers when they need you.

I'm obsessive about locking any of the shops anyway and check and double check a thousand times, and during the first year of trading in our Chelsea boutique I would call Daphne's (two doors down) and ask the receptionist go to the shop and check I had locked the door properly. One day she came back to the phone and said "Donna it’s wide open and all the stock's gone". I was like "WHAT??!!!" She said "no you maniac, now STOP CALLING!!"

But then one day the phone really did ring at 2am. It was the police. Someone had tried to break into the Chelsea shop.  I literally thought I was going to be sick. Heart pounding I threw on some clothes and jumped in the car. I live about 45 minutes away and that drive was torture - I called Dad in Sydney along the way just so someone else could be as worried as I was. When I arrived the police were waiting for me out the front along with the big concrete block the would-be intruders had used to try to smash the plate glass front.

Luckily they didn't get that far. Despite throwing it at the glass repeatedly it didn't give way - it just made a huge mess - and the owner of Boujis who lives across the road (and being a nightclub owner was just arriving home) called the police.

So I had a half smashed window that was going to take weeks to repair due to the way it had been installed in the first place, and a big ugly board covering up half the window where the glass was smashed. It was August and the sale was still on and I had to do something quickly to cover it up. We use a poster company in Notting Hill occasionally and last time I was there I noticed they can make stickers - massive ones. I called and asked them to make up a huge sticker for me, making light of the attempted break in and promoting the sale. When I told them I wanted it within two hours there was a bit of huffing and puffing - along with a £260 bill - but by lunchtime we had a half covered window and a new marketing campaign which was covered in Drapers Magazine and photographed a thousand times by tourists and literally everyone who saw it. And THAT'S how you make lemons into lemonade!

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