Running a Business in Lockdown
The UK started 'locking down' in March 2020, gradually businesses with physical premises were forced to shut their doors as people were encouraged to stay at home due to the Coronavirus outbreak. My business, like many, had to rethink how to continue when face to face sales stopped being an option.
Practicality of Working
In August 2019, I moved Shutter Jewellery from a home studio to a dedicated premises where I could expand my workshop space and invite customers to visit. Located by the Thames, I had a taste in 2019 of what an amazing place this was going to be in the Spring and Summer of 2020… well you know the rest. I’m hugely pleased that I picked somewhere extremely local and with accessible workspace I could still make, but it’s not the ‘open’ studio I’d planned!
Well, in theory I could still make. Of course just because I could work doesn’t mean suppliers could and I found it was very quickly difficult to get my hands on the materials I needed. All the time to experiment but I had to be careful not to use up all my supplies needed for potential orders. Like having a big box biscuits and trying not to eat them all… a lockdown scenario I’m sure we are all very familiar with.
One of the things I’m most proud of is Shutter Jewellery being stocked in some really wonderful shops – all of which had to close their doors. With bricks and mortar retail always being tough to make successful I worry for all the physical shops, big and small. Independents, however, are great at adapting and always going the extra mile for their customers. I’ve loved seeing the new websites pop up, delivery services, virtual markets and empty windows being used for good. Such imaginative ideas. There are many great campaigns out there aimed at ‘supporting’ small businesses but I think it’s taken a crisis for consumers to realise they need them as much as the businesses need the custom. I’m hopeful post lockdown, our high streets will see a new lease of life.
Way back in January, which seems like forever ago, my main goal for 2020 was to update my website and incorporate an online shop. I’m so glad I started this task pretty promptly at the start of the year because come lockdown I was nearly ready to go. Online shops have been a real saviour for businesses and there in no one more grateful to delivery drivers and postal workers than us.
Why would people buy jewellery in Lockdown?
My focus has been on gifting. People were still having birthdays… Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day etc. Special, thoughtful gifts are more important than ever when people are unable to celebrate with their loved one in person. I’ve had some lovely stories from people giving Shutter Jewellery as gifts during lockdown. I’ve made sure parcels will go through a letter box and included personal gift messages.
As a message to other ‘non-essential’ business owners - It’s very easy to feel useless if you’re not a doctor, or a food producer or any of the other vital essential workers. It’s important to keep doing what you do though as your thing is exactly what someone is looking for.
Beautiful things might not save someone’s life but they might make someone’s day.
Learning how to manage time when your routine is messed up.
Ask any small business owner what days / hours they work, they will probably say all time. Even if they have a shop that’s open 9 -5, chances are they are still replying to shop emails at bedtime. This period has allowed me look at how I use my time and not feel guilty for taking a few hours to do precisely nothing! My plan now is to give myself and my business a much more structured work day. The relax time should also allow my brain to reset and be more productive for the next day.
Productivity is going to be needed as having the ability to work but not necessarily experiment means I have a heap of potential new designs and ideas ready to be put into action. Thankfully, suppliers are back to work and stocks are being replenished. One really exciting new range unlike any I’ve done before I put on halt after beginning to tinker with it earlier in the year. I now have designs to potentially make a 100 piece collection so I might have to reign it in a bit!
Of course getting back to the studio and allowing people to come and visit is the next step. Next up will very hopefully be Surrey Artist Open Studios, which was due to happen in June but was postponed. This would have been my first year participating as a solo studio so let’s hope the event can still go ahead in September as now planned.
Spring / Summer is usually the time businesses like mine start to plan Christmas. Christmas event bookings begin around this time but this year I have no idea how the festive season is going to look. Maybe my Christmas market travelling case will get a year off.
One other cancelled event was the ‘In Harmony’ group exhibition at Riverhouse Barn. This will still be going ahead but not until 2021. I’ll keep you posted, for now here’s a virtual sneak peek.
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Do comment and let me know if any of this is familiar, helpful or completely different to your own experience of adapting to lockdown.
Thanks for reading and take care,