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An unfinished Journey

An unfinished Journey

I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself; my name is James Martin. I am the latest addition to the Goldenhands family and son of the owner, Pauline!

My tale begins in Hastings, you know, 1066, the insurance company, king Harold, and some battle with France? Yeah, that one! 

Before my time on this beautiful green planet, out of the blue, whilst on holiday in 1986, my quirky but lovable father announced that he wanted to open a family-run gift shop selling handmade wares from his home country of South Africa. Pauline and Barbara (Terry’s partner) thought it was a lovely idea with their relaxed holiday brains! Upon arrival back home, they quickly started looking for the perfect place. They had always loved the Hastings Old Town, and as luck had it, there was a fixer-upper for sale.

Goldenhands 1990

They up and sold their house and moved straight in. The house was in such bad condition that Pauline would wake up with a damp pillow on wet, windy nights due to the roof being more of a sieve than a roof! It took some time for Terry to turn what was, for lack of better words, an old musty lounge into the front shop. They quickly filled the newfound Goldenhands with trinkets and curiosities from South Africa, and locally handmade goods. The rest of the building was re-purposed to a stock room/living area for Pauline, Barbara, Terry and my two (young at the time) older sisters. My Nanny, Pam, and the rest of the family would pitch in running the shop, not knowing how deeply entwined Goldenhands would become to our family and future.

Fast forward a few years, I am born, hurray! It wasn’t long before I became the shops youngest addition; before I could talk, I could gift wrap, and before I could walk, I was pricing things wrong! It gave me so many valuable life skills; to speak to people and to have Pauline as my teacher, I couldn’t have been luckier! Working in Goldenhands from such a young age on weekends and school holidays was a gift. 

Fast forward a few more years, some well spent, some not so well spent, ahem, uni... Covid had just struck, and I’m living at my parent’s house, sat in bed, furloughed, with my partner Sabrina. I hear some raised, frustrated voices drifting upstairs from the lounge. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to stick my head around the lounge doorway. Pauline, Terry and Barbara were sat exhaustedly reeling through a plethora of poorly crafted passwords trying to log in to Shopify (the website we use to run our online store). I knew this was a long time coming and knew they had all been dreading the day they had to come kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

As luck would have it, I had a basic, and I mean a basic understanding of how to build and run an online store, so I volunteered to build and run the Goldenhands website. That evening I got cracking; I took over their Shopify account and designed a very, let’s say, functional-looking website; it was a steep learning curve and quickly became a full-time endeavour! We went on to launch the website on the 12th of May. That evening I posted on Facebook to let our lovely customers know that after 20 plus years of asking, they could finally shop with us online! Shortly after, we received our first ever online order, then another and another. We started panicking as we had not anticipated getting 13 orders through on our first night! It was fantastic and so humbling. We were all incredibly touched by how much support we received from our loyal customers. Our loyal customers lifted us into the E-commerce space with love and support; we couldn’t have been more grateful. Over the following weeks, the website quietened down, and I could frantically upload as many products as possible. was born, and we couldn’t have been happier! We were getting a few orders a day, mainly serving our existing customers, which we have known for years, this was a good start!

One evening, a few weeks later, I was sitting, happily tinkering with the website, and I received a WhatsApp from my sister Jenny with a keen observation, she had a minor niggle with the ‘gold’ I had chosen for the overriding colour scheme for Goldenhands, she described it as ‘pooey’. The problem with the colour gold is that if you just Google gold, all of the colours are just shades of yellow and brown, gold is only gold when you can see it is meant to be gold. What I had done in my ignorance was just take a digital sample from a picture of a block of gold from google images; it looked about as gold as my morning movement, and Jenny had quite rightly pointed this out! The metaphorical glass shattered, and I could see it; the whole website was a dulcet, faecal brown.

As luck would have it, my partner, Sabrina, is a computer literate Tattooist who was also unable to work at this point due to Covid. She came over to my computer screen and sighed. Sabrina had been working in Goldenhands on and off for years, and with her newfound emotional investment into Goldenhands, the website, thank the universe, she decided to climb on board and make Goldenhands, the website, beautiful. During one overnighter, she beautified the site, turning shades of pungent browns to elegant blacks and a delightfully regal purple.

Little did we know at the time; this would just be the start of a new era for Goldenhands; the website was up, running and looking pretty! Most of the products were available with Sabrina’s beautiful photography and artwork. It was now time to start advertising; Facebook is a fabulous tool! We were able to re-connect with long lost friends and customers alike. To keep up with the volume of orders we received at this crucial time; Terry would drive his re-purposed builders’ van to the shop and treat it as a portable packing station! It was quite a funny site to see Terry, parked up on the deserted pedestrian street, in his moss green shorts, sandals and fishing hat, whistling, packing parcels out of the back of a van! When this became impractical, it was time to upscale. It’s time to Introduce the warehouse and packing station! Things started to get serious by this point; Chris was un-furloughed to help keep on top of orders. The warehouse was a hive of family members bustling around, sorting deliveries into their correct places and fulfilling the orders! By this point, we now had a fully kitted out packing station, suitable for Pauline and Terry to work their magick into the parcels and Barbara picking up the slack.

We had a fantastic start thanks to all of the love and support from our customers and the dedication of Pauline, Terry, Barbara and Chris. We have recently celebrated our 5000th online order! With no sign of slowing down, we are constantly looking for ways to do things differently. From the start, we have always believed in the power of meaningful interactions and hope this is reflected in every order we send out! 

This is all very new to me; never before have I attempted to write a news/blog feed, and I hope you have enjoyed hearing a very abbreviated version of my/our story! I plan to run a bit of commentary on how as a small business, we are navigating this strange new world we all live in and to give you any fun or essential updates about Goldenhands and the products within! If you have made it this far through my waffle, I would love to hear your thought on how we can improve and in what direction you would like me to take this!

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Anuj Shah - March 12, 2023


Hello James, great speaking to you the other day. Our chat inspired me to have a peek at your website.
I was fascinated to read about your journey and wish you and the Golden Hands team all the very best.
Meeting Terry & Pauline at the fairs is always a pleasure.

Best Wishes.

Anuj, Global 1st Ltd

Sarah - August 9, 2022

I absolutely love your shop! Everytime me and my family visit Hastings, GoldenHands is always a must. Definitely my all time favourite shop and place to be. Staff are always so friendly, helpful and chatty with customers and the whole place has an amazing atmosphere.

Sarah Seymour - February 12, 2022

My daughters and I love this shop and we are always made to feel so welcome by the lovely owners. If you’re looking for a unique gift for friends and family members, then a visit to this shop is a must! We have also had a great experience ordering online which is always a fast and efficient service with the gifts being so beautifully wrapped. Sarah, Ellie and Storm xxx

Shelly - December 16, 2021

I found your gorgeous shop online, I am unfortunately too far to visit in person but sent an email to see if an item I desperately wanted could be posted out. I received a very prompt reply despite the time difference and was blown away with how wonderful everyone was in helping me to get my bear. Thank you so much for all your help, cannot recommend you highly enough, honestly have made my year. You went above and beyond for me and I will be always grateful

Mrs Denise Robery - August 9, 2021

We have been visiting your shop since the mid 1980s and have brought some beautiful items. We used to buy the ( then…. cassette tapes and play them in the car on our way home to Bromley. It was a lovely way of relaxing our (then.. 3 young children to sleep instead of arguing on the back seats. My mother loved coming to your shop when we used to bring her down to Hastings for the day, so much so that I brought a beautiful trinket from you after my mother passed away in May 2018 and have put a portion of her ashes in it. We actually popped in yesterday and I told the 2 shop keepers this and showed them a photo of the mentioned trinket. We will be back again soon thank you.

Sarah - July 29, 2021

I loved your story, I am so happy you all decided to open an online shop as I wouldn’t of known you existed as I am from greater Manchester, I order from you every month and can’t wait to receive my parcels it’s like Christmas every month everything is beautifully packaged infact I am just about to put my next order in, I wish you all the luck on your journey and don’t think you need to change one thing ❤️🖤🦇

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