Life during the corona virus- as a business owner, mom, and wife.
What a crazy ass world we live in right now. When this all started I asked my parents if they had ever seen anything like this in their lifetime. The answer was that they have seen some pretty tough times, but the uncertainty of the situation when it all began was so unclear. As it still is today. So, as the weeks went on- the answer was no. My parents had not seen anything like this, and as it turns out the entire population had never seen anything like this.
As a mom it is terrifying. In the early stages of the virus I think its safe to say most of the population made jokes about it. We all talked about how it was just a flu. We made comments about over reaction. There was a portion of the population that did believe this virus could be devastating. As the days went by, it got a little more serious with each press conference, or news report. The hysteria started, and soon the grocery stores would be empty, and oh by the way- you can’t get toilet paper anywhere. Then, schools closed. For the first time ever kids would stay home, and had no idea for how long. Many states issued a stay at home order, or shelter in place. A lot of confusion came with that. After a couple weeks we would now start the new home schooling curriculum. That was a slight adjustment for our house, and my oldest. Now, my oldest is in 8th grade and thankfully she’s pretty darn smart. She has adjusted well, and has been doing great occupying her time.
Then there’s my 5 year old. We chose to keep her home from daycare a couple weeks into the panic. While my husband is essential and she could technically still be in daycare today- I am not essential anymore (unless I want to be) thankfully I have the choice to not ride an ambulance if I don’t want to. Having the youngest home every day has been an adjustment for our entire family. Paisley who is 5 just doesn’t understand. She misses her friends, her teachers, and my god- she never stops talking. Trying to occupy her all day everyday, and run a business has been a little frustrating at times. She also says she misses Walmart and constantly ask when we can go places when the virus is gone. So all you stay at home moms out there- bless your heart. I am not cut out for that!
As a wife- Man, do I envy my husband for being able to get out of the house, and away from the girls for 24 hours every three days. At the same time, I worry. The worry for every time he goes to work isn’t new. It’s the nature of the job, and literally the unknown on every call. So, while I have always worried now seems a little more scary. Exposures happen all the time. Everyday in his line of work (everyday in general, really). Sometimes you know about them, and sometimes you never find out. As the information on the virus evolved, so did the drastic measures of how the fire department would protect their people. Going from a laid back, I don’t care if you wear your work boots into the kitchen (not good I know, but he’s less exposed as a chief in most cases) to you better not even wear any of the clothes you had on through the garage door- happened pretty fast. All in the name of protecting our kids. Having an “essential” job right now means income for our family. That doesn’t stop the worry of everything else in the world though.
As a business owner- Shew. Let me just say, if you were ever being judge, or under a microscope by someone just waiting for you to slip up- add a global pandemic to the mix, and prepare for the BS.
I will start this part off by saying that since we moved into our new store front we have grown so much. We expanded our staff and went to a 7-day operation. We worked hard to get to where we were. Our online presence grew, and we were figuring out how to scale, while staying sane. Its no easy task, but if it were easy everyone would do it, right?
I recently read something that said, “when I show up authentically my boutique customers connect with me”. I felt that. That has always been my goal. I want people to know the name behind the brand, and who I am. I think for the most part they know exactly who I am.
Fast forward to March. Bryan and I went on our ten year wedding anniversary trip to Jamaica, and boy am I glad we got that trip in. We usually go away in may, and clearly that wouldn't have happened. I took that trip as a time to disconnect from the world, and re connect with my husband. We are busy people, but who isn’t. I came home re charged, and pumped up to start diving into the summer season. In the retail world, by the second week in April you need to be completely into the summer season, even if its still not warm. Then about the 14th of March rolled around, and they started announcing the shut downs, and soon after they announced all non essential business were to close. Ok, OUCH. The word essential pissed me off. Who gets to decide that anyones income that supports their family isn't essential to their life. I get it, thats irrational thinking. However, it threw me into a panic. Not just for myself and my business, but for all of my friends who were in a similar boat as myself. While we really all had something different going on, we were all a small business owner. We were all non essential, and we were all about to be out of luck, and out of money.
When you run a small business, if you aren't working, you aren't making money.
Ok, get yourself together Britt- its time to pivot.
Pivot? Let me tell you about that. I have a pretty clear model of the things we sell, and how we sell it. We have built our facebook live sales to be pretty big, and they are always a success. In the past few months though, we built our in-store clientele significantly. That was about to be abruptly taken away from us. Time to get creative friends.
We spent the first couple weeks closed, but continuing our normal shipping habits, and lives. Then the governor announced that we would be placed under a stay at home order. I got nervous, and I packed our mobile boutique. Thank god we have that. I moved it to my driveway, and I worked just about every hour I was awake- because it was all at my fingertips. This lasted about two weeks before I was exhausted- mentally and physically, and I knew I needed help.
We moved back to the store, and re grouped. I made it very clear that I wasn't giving any of my attention to being negative or falling victim of circumstance, not yet. Why the hell would I? I literally have an army of followers, friends, loyal customers, and staff. One week back in the store, and we were breaking records.
Y'all know I own a clothing boutique, right? What happens though when a pandemic happens, and your customers still want clothes, but you know there is a high demand for other products? On a normal day I would never consider selling some of these things, but now I was actually able to get things that I knew there was a huge shortage in.
Well, here is how my thought process went- Immediately I said no. I was not entertaining, or buying those products. It’s not my style, and that was the end of the conversation.
Until- Our top vendor announced they were working on a side project. That side project happened to be producing masks. Well, here was an opportunity to help those who had a need. An opportunity to step up for our customers, and deliver what we were all looking for. This was not an opportunity for us to make a profit, and this certainly wasn't to find a way to “cash in” on the situation.
Initially I ordered around 150 mask total, this was a combo of kids, and adults. I made a post about them coming, and realized the need was more than I realized. I immediately ordered more. Once the vendor announced a ship date- we launched the pre order (by request of our customers). We sold out. We re stocked. We damn near sold out again. We were in contact with certain business, or people who we felt may need a mask- we ordered for them. We helped bring a little fun to the mask wearing by having matching kids, and adult mask. Two days after this- We were told if we want to be in a public retail space, we have to have a mask on. The need grew, and the demand was high. We did our best to step up and deliver for the need! Throughout the past few days, we have had so many orders. I am thankful we were able to provide a service to people where there was a gap. I promise you all when I say this- we were not ever setting out to make a profit on the situation. Shipping cost are crazy for us right now, and that is a choice we made by keeping the shipping cost low for our customers. It won’t be like this forever, or so I'm praying.
A few days after mask sales were launched, I was able to find a vendor who had hand sanitizer. WHAT?! That is like striking gold right now. Who would have ever thought? Not me. So, we again saw a need, and did our part to help with that need. No, I don’t usually sell this stuff. We also don’t usually have a pandemic and run out. We got a small order, and we quickly sold out. We were thankfully able to re stock, and get as much as we could!
This is trying times for all of us. No matter what path you walk. No-one has any idea what the new normal will be, and no-one is better than the next person because their opinion differs from yours. I hate the news, but some people rely on it for everything. That doesn't make me a bad person, and it doesn't make the news lover a bad person. We are all people, we all serve different purposes, and have very different lifestyles. While this pandemic has brought people together, it is also tearing people apart. Be careful with your words, you can’t get them back. Be careful with your post on social media, someone who doesn't know you well may forever be stuck on one small moment of weakness that you showed in a moment of anger. Last- never assume you know why someone is doing something. Never assume that because you see someone selling something that they aren't taking the situation seriously, or they are just trying to make a buck. Not everyone is bad, and not everyone is good. It isn't our job to judge people as harshly as we do, but damn if we don't anyway. Here’s to better days, soon! Thank you to all of our supporters!
Be kind always!