2020 where do we start ? October 07 2020, 2 Comments
Well so far , this has obviously been one of the strangest years any of us have experienced. I'm pretty sure almost everyone I know both personally and in business are going through a transitional phase like no other, as we have been shocked into re -evaluating our lives and directions during the Covid crisis , which at the time of writing this is not yet over.
For my business , its been a time of upheaval . Firstly , It was by no means a good winter, sales wise , but I was looking forward to emerging into spring and taking your orders for all the inevitable upcoming special occasions. A few orders were already trickling in for summer weddings and events but during February , as we were becoming aware of the impending crisis they suddenly just stopped . Understandably , with no one sure of what was coming next , and indeed how could any of us have foreseen the next few months.
When lockdown was announced I sat in a spin as I watched all my revenue streams dry up one after the other in a very short period of time.. How was I going to survive ?, as a trading high street shop business was zero. Events cancelled meant no-one buying special outfits , all my teaching classes cancelled , obviously closed doors meant no passing trade , All the shops I supply also closing so no wholesale either. I've never been really on top of selling online so I don't have a lot of website sales. I was totally lost !
I went into survival mode . I packed up all my stuff and moved it into my spare room in my house , where I am lucky enough to have space.
Happy with my little home workshop ( it has a window , which is something I long for in my basement at the shop ) I set it all up . It looked nice so I sat in it and thought "what now ?"
My first thoughts were to try to continue along the same lines making and selling my usual stuff on Facebook. this went ok for a while , as my loyal customers and well wishers snapped up skirts and ponchos etc, both enjoying the discounts I offered and also , I know , in the spirit of supporting me , for which I am very grateful.
A skirt ordered before lockdown and finished at home.
A poncho I sold during the first few weeks
A recycling project I managed to finish
It became obvious however over a short time that the whole thing was going to go on longer than expected, and in order to survive I would need to change strategy.
I decided that the best thing to do would be to create lounge wear concentrating on sustainable organic cotton and linen. This worked quite well , a big departure for me , but quite a few pieces went into the post and I started to think it was something that I could develop into a nice little range , at first , very simple pieces , joggers and dresses but maybe getting a bit more stylish as I learned how to get the most out of the fabric.
The start of making loungewear , a very simple house dress
The very popular 'lockdown apron' , I thought about organic linen bt eventually it was popular in repurposed fabrics
of course , like everyone , I wanted to do my bit . I watched a lot of sewers making masks for charity ,but I reckoned, as my skills are decidedly more advanced , my time was better spent making scrubs for the NHS. Simple things like buying fabric and thread became difficult so I joined a friend of mine , Karen McKay, from Cahoots shop in Portobello, who was organising this. Eventually I spent 2 weeks and made 10 pairs. I was very pleased with that , but obviously I am unable to do charity work full time so I still needed to find a way of making a living.
My scrubs. I was immensely grateful to the NHS
The answer was right in front of me , and it came in the form of facemasks.
I started thinking maybe I would sell a few dozen , and I was till looking for my next direction, but fate had a different story for me and the mask thing exploded. before I knew it I was sewing from dawn till dusk (that's a long time in Scottish summertime ! ) I was making up to and sometimes over 40 masks a day , taking orders , sewing , mailing , it was a 7 day a week job. It was a big emotional overload. I was exhausted and at the same time grateful that I had such a fantastic back up of wonderful customers who were willing to buy them and keep me going.
Thank you to everyone who ordered them . Keeping a real life city centre shop afloat from making and selling masks alone is , believe me , a lot of work . but I've never been work shy.
Your parcels , 2 days work !
When we were at last allowed to return to work , I opened straight away. As I had been so busy , I had not been able to do as other shopkeepers had and decorated or deep cleaned . The shop was a tip ! I had spent literally 3 months just opening the door , grabbing things , chucking things inside and driving home as quick as possible as the city centre streets were eerily quiet , and it didn't feel safe to be alone on them. I had to spend a good week tidying and cleaning . During that week a public health official was doing the rounds and gave me advice on how to open safely . for me this is simple, a table near the door with a sign saying wait here and sanitise your hands ! I have to keep to my back area of the shop , and wear a mask when I move forward to serve. Its taken a bit of getting used to , but as most people are still only after masks its ok.
shop window after lockdown
At the moment I've had to close for an indefinite period of time. This is because I need to be abroad to help with family stuff , not because of Covid , I fully intend to return and I'm hoping its to make garments , because , good as its been making all those masks , I'm really looking forward to completing some of my projects. The vintage kimonos I bought are still sitting waiting to be recreated , and I've got some simply amazing fabrics to use. I am also looking forward to continuing on my sustainability journey. I'm studying and writing about sustainable fashion at the moment during my absence from the shop , and taking part in a few exciting online projects.
I have a great Facebook group called 'sustainable clothing for everyone ' which is a conversation group aimed at increasing awareness and sharing articles , as well as simple everyday things that can be done to start your own journey into sustainable fashion. designers and small scale manufacturers also advertise there so you can see lovely things from all over the world.
Once again , I would like to say thank you to each and all of you , for your continued support . likes , shares , and of course purchases are all gratefully received , however small. xx