How long have you been in business?
Ostara was established in 2006.
Do you have a company by-line?
Collectors’ quality rocks, crystals and minerals.
What brought you into the business?
Although I (Anita) have collected rocks and fossils for years, Ostara was initially set up by my mother, Barbara, when she retired from a long career in the NHS. The crystals were initially a sideline to Barbara’s complementary therapies and massage, but gradually and insidiously they took over and edged out everything else. When Barbara died in 2009 we surrendered to the inevitable and moved entirely into the rocks and crystals retail side of things.
Have you noticed many changes over the years?
We haven’t been doing it long enough, however we have heard the old timers’ tales of a golden past of crystal retailing ….
What stands out as the best part of running your business?
The rocks and the people. Equally diverse and fascinating.
What’s the worst?
Getting up at 5 o’clock on a January morning to drive 200 miles to a show.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
Not really, but it would have been nice to have done it 20 years sooner.
What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years?
Getting bigger and better. Establishing new retail opportunities, tracking down new sources of stock and constantly improving our knowledge of mineralogy.
Do you have a memorable funny (business) story?
Oh, so many, but I always think fondly of the man who came to our stall at a Rock & Gem show a couple of years ago and warned us to be very careful of emerald because aliens had poisoned the earth’s emerald supplies in the distant past and the Atlanteans hadn’t managed to clean it all up before their civilisation was destroyed.
What are your favourite crystals?
I love Garnets and Tourmaline. Roy likes Carnelian.
What do you look for in a customer?
A genuine interest in the stones. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know much about them or don’t have wads of cash to splash. We also love a customer who has his or her children under tight control.
How do you source your stock?
They are usually left for us by the faeries in an enchanted circle at midnight. We don’t take them all, however. Every stone we sell is individually selected because it is a good, weird or otherwise pleasing example of its type.
What preparation do you do for a show?
Roy loads the hatchback while I go out to buy bottled water and chocolate. We leave strict instructions to the cats not to bring in any dead things while we are away, grab a teddy bear for the dog and we are on our way.
As an experienced exhibitor what advice would you want to share with others?
Be very careful of the emerald.