Burgess Hill curtain maker set to open second shop at The Orchards in Haywards Heath

A curtain maker from Burgess Hill is getting ready to open her second store in The Orchards Shopping Centre, Haywards Heath, this weekend.

Caroline Packham, who founded and owns Caroline at Home at unit 29, said the new store will be called Caroline at Home Bespoke and will be at unit 31.

An opening ceremony takes place at about 10am on Saturday (September 18) with Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies attending.

“We’re moving all of the curtain making, the upholstery, the blinds and the shutters into unit 31,” said Caroline, 51.

Caroline At Home in The Orchards, Haywards Heath.

“The main aim of our business is make curtains and blinds,” she said, adding that the new shop will sell fabric on the roll, Venetian blinds, shutters, made-to-measure poles and other soft furnishings.

Meanwhile, the old store will sell kitchen wares, ornaments, cards, gifts and more, she said.

“There’s a lot of candles and diffusers because people love that,” said Caroline, who is also planning to sell a small clothing line as well as crockery.

Caroline went on to say that she had always wanted to make curtains, having taken a two-year City & Guilds soft furnishings course in 2005.

Caroline At Home in The Orchards, Haywards Heath.

“I wanted to work and do something to fit around my children,” she said.

“I was sewing from home for several years and when my last child started school in 2015 I just decided to see if I could actually turn it into a business.”

She did not have much money to start with, except for the cash she had made making curtains, she said.

“I just pushed the profit back into the shop and that’s how it grew,” said Caroline, adding that since opening the store in 2017 her business has required a lot of hard work.

“But I’ve always wanted a shop,” she said.

“I think that with most people it’s the dream to have a little shop.”

In addition, Caroline said she wanted her business to be a quality homeware store, selling everything that people could need that is pleasing to the eye as well.

“We sell really nice quality and beautiful things for your home,” she said.

Another ambition of Caroline’s is to bring something back to the high street after the economic harm caused by Covid.

“I feel really quite strongly about that because people still come out, they still want to shop and they still want to socialise and it’s really important to have places to go,” she said.

Caroline lives in Burgess Hill with her husband and two of her children, but said she ‘absolutely loves the community feel’ of Haywards Heath.

“I love working in the Orchards,” she said, adding that her initial plan for a bigger shop would sadly have meant leaving the site.

But Centre Manager Nicola Bird suggested opening a second store instead, she said.

Caroline said the Covid pandemic has been tough, but she is confident Caroline at Home will bounce back stronger and help put ‘Haywards Heath back on the map’.

She is also passionate about bringing quality brands to the town and said she will be selling items by Emma Bridgewater, Sophie Allport, Chalk, Cath Kidston and Orla Kiely.

“We’ll also be selling Laura Ashley,” said Caroline, adding that this is important after the retail fashion chain closed its Haywards Heath shop.

“Over the autumn we’re going to be bringing Laura Ashley fabrics back into Haywards Heath and that is a big deal,” she said.