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How I opened my independent bookshop – and got support from an acclaimed children’s author

Jaimie Poyner, owner of Clemo Books in Newquay, Cornwall, started the business as a pop-up before taking the leap and opening a brick-and-mortar shop.

Determination and a little bit of help from the stars – celebrities and astrological – were the vital ingredients that led Jaimie Poyner to open a bookshop in her hometown.

Jaimie returned home from studying publishing media at university in bookshop Mecca Oxford, and noticed the shortage of bookshops in Newquay. But she wasn’t able to realise her dream of opening an independent bookshop on the Cornish coast right away.

First of all, she found a job in communications and spent eight years working in PR.

“I always loved the people I worked with and the projects I was working on but never felt completely settled in jobs with the idea of the bookshop in the back of my mind,” Jaimie said. “When the pandemic hit it gave me time to reevaluate my career direction and in 2021 I set up the pop-up bookshop as a little weekend job for myself. The tools I learnt working in PR were so valuable to setting up my own business!”

It was a struggle at first to balance her full-time job with a business at the weekend, but more and more people told Jaimie they’d like to see a permanent bookshop in the town.

Realistic expectations

But despite being told she was on the right track, it was a scary process to go from employee to business owner.

“Self-confidence was one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome, Jaimie said. “The constant self-doubting, a money-scarcity mindset, imposter syndrome and catastrophizing was a lot to deal with but I found that just making a list of all the actions I needed to take helped me tackle it one bit at a time,” Jaimie said.

“The Bookseller’s Association were really supportive. They run an annual course online to give an overview of setting up a bookshop and the business in general. They don’t sugarcoat it and I think that gave me realistic expectations going into this.

“Setting up as a pop-up bookshop first was the biggest step I took and it made the rest of it so much easier. Knowing I had the support from residents in the town and that there was a market for an independent bookshop was a big boost. Doing something to make a difference in the community gave me a stronger determination to achieve my goal because I knew it would benefit people in some way.”

The stars aligned

Jaimie used astrology to help set business goals and take action at the right times, including launching a crowdfunding campaign to open a permanent shop on an auspicious date.

“I used astrology with things like sharing a blog post to help manifest on 11 April 2023 when the Sun/Jupiter conjunction meant luck was abundant.

“I think I’ve achieved everything I set out to do in this blog post bar the blue window frames and cafe (which in hindsight would have been a lot of extra work, the bookshop is plenty of work!). I also timed the launch of the crowdfunder on 14 October (rather aptly was also BA Bookshop Day 2023) which coincided with a Libra New Moon and solar eclipse – the community of supporters helped me reach my 8k target to renovate the bookshop in under a month.

“Other things such as sending important emails when searching for premises I tried to time with new moons. I eventually opened the bookshop during Sagittarius season 2023, and I am a Sagittarius so it was fun celebrating the bookshop opening and my birthday in a matter of weeks. Timing it with astrology just helped push me to do things more than anything.”

And Jaimie received support from another kind of star – acclaimed children’s author Michael Morpurgo.

“During the Crowdfunder campaign, I got a quote of support from Michael Morpurgo and that was incredible,” Jaimie said. “I was crying at my laptop in a cafe, it was a really beautiful quote.”

This was the quote from Michael Morpurgo OBE: “Just think how many readers are going to walk into this new bookshop in Newquay over the years to come. Just think how one book enjoyed might make a reader for life. Just think how wonderful a pathway that is and will towards knowledge, self-knowledge and understanding. I just think that Newquay, all who live there, and visit there, will have lives enriched. I love thinking such thoughts. Just hope one or two of the books will be mine!”

Opening the bookshop

“Getting inside the premises for the first time on my own and just taking it all in was quite a moment,” said Jaimie.

“Clemo Books’ opening party was so much fun, the bookshop was full all evening and everyone who I’d met on this journey came along for some fizz, I think I’ll remember that night for a long time. our book club is brimming with members too, we meet up once a month in a bar down the road and I think the friendships formed in Clemo Club are definitely one of the highlights. Now in the mornings when I walk in I still get a little burst of happiness.”

Take the leap

On what advice she’d give budding business owners, Jaimie said: “Do it! It’ll likely be hard work and a lot of long days but if you get the chance I think you should take it – or make the chance for yourself. I got really scared when it came to signing the lease and wanted to back out but I imagined myself at 80 and what I would think of my younger self turning down the opportunity to open a bookshop – it worked a treat.”

What’s next for Clemo Books

“Bookshops are more than just retail spaces – they’re places for community to gather for author events, book signings and storytelling sessions. It’s a way of bringing literature into the high street and sharing this culture with people is wonderful. Stories from all over the world, time periods, poetry or prose, even Cornish language phrase books – it’s all contained in our little bookshop. All ages can find something to entertain themselves at Clemo Books and I think that’s such a special thing.

“We’ve got a few events coming up and Clemo Books will be the bookshop partner for a lovely festival in Cornwall called Rock Oyster which we’re looking forward to (and the Sugar Babes will be performing there). I think getting through our first busy summer season in Newquay is the next big thing for Clemo Books – wish me luck!”

To find out more about Clemo Books, visit:

Bex Bastable
Bex Bastable
Bex is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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