British residents Debbie Felstead and Samantha Bell are determined not to be beaten by Covid.
The two women met and became firm friends in Pollensa over 20 years ago. Sam moved over from her home in Stockport some 33 years ago and Debbie upped sticks and left London 25 years ago. The two dynamic businesswomen now run the bespoke interior design, furnishings and accessories boutique De Cor in Pollensa.
Sam and Debbie told the Bulletin last week that opening the business together had always been their dream. Last year, they made their dream come true, and having invested so much time, money and energy into the project, they are not going to allow Covid to defeat them.
“We’re both single mothers and have years of experience in the industry. We were always talking about opening up our own shop and bringing together all of our experience,” said Sam.
“Early last year, Debbie called me to say she had found the perfect location and we opened on March 1 and had a great first year.
“We got off to a great start and word of mouth quickly spread. Before we knew it, we were dealing with clients who owned homes in the area from all over the world and were also shipping items to destinations across Europe and even as far away as the United States. We were so pleased, we still are, it’s just that things have obviously taken a bit of a downturn,” Debbie said.
Sam’s strong point is in the field of purchasing and trading while Debbie’s wealth of experience is more in the furnishing and design field of the business.
“We never really took it that seriously; I guess it was a passion for us both in our spare time,” explained Sam. "But here at De Cor, we’ve brought all our skills together and we offer a vast range of services which we are very proud of.”
However, now the two are having to ride out the pandemic, with lockdown having come nearly a year to the day after they opened last year.
“It was strange. When we opened in June after the lockdown we had a really strong month and we thought ‘great’, but it eventually dried up and reality began to set in. We think that after the lockdown, people were all excited about being able to get out and about, had had time at home to think about changing the interior or buying some new furniture, what have you, and everyone went on a spending spree.
“Sadly, it didn’t last and then the 14-day quarantine measure was introduced in the UK and we were put on the red list by the German government. That combination came as a killer blow for the tourism industry and the second homeowner market. We also look after a number of apartments in this area of the island and they were all fully booked for the summer. In the end, no one has come.
“Luckily our client base is so varied and multinational we’ve managed and are able to tick over because of the various services we offer. We’re not just a sales outlet, we also take care of upholstery renovations and repairs. We’ve just taken on the interior of a property in Pollensa which the owners want altering, so we’re keeping busy. Plus, our location is perfect. We’re near the big Ford garage at the entrance to the town, so we get a lot of footfall and, to be honest, we provide that wow factor for people who pop in - even if it’s just out of curiosity.
“If we were based in Palma, we would be steaming, but here in Pollensa it’s a limited market. Fortunately, the town is more residential than the port and a lot of people own second and holiday homes in the area, but the trouble is very few have come this year. September and October would be extremely busy months for us, but it is not going to happen with all the travel restrictions around Europe and the rest of the world.
“But we’re not going to throw in the towel. We’ve put too much into this project to just give up. We’re open every day from Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 5pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm. Sundays are usually good because it’s market day. Plus, we make a real effort to source unusual items and accessories from various parts of the world, in particular the United Kingdom and Scandinavia.
“Most of our stock is unique to the island and no project is too small or too big for us. Sometimes when you talk about interior design, everyone immediately starts thinking big numbers. That’s not our business plan, we’re well priced and offer the best value for money we can.
“We’re open all hours and open to all and any ideas our clients have. We’ve managed to prove since we opened that we’re very adaptable and have many attributes and skills few other outlets like ours offer, and we’re now looking forward to Christmas. Our Christmas collection is one we’re extremely proud of. Again, we go out of our way to find special, unusual and exciting festive items and we’re going to be making a big push this Christmas before closing for January and February as we did last year. We need a holiday as well. But we’ll be back, we’re not going away. Covid or not, we’re in this for the long haul.”