If I think back to Christmas...being with family, enjoying the warmer weather, getting ready to bid farewell to one year and bring in a new one...I would never have anticipated I would get the 2020 that arrived on my doorstep. Actually I celebrated a very big birthday and my family surprised me with a ticket for us to go to WoodFord Folk Festival. It was amazing and worth the big trip to get there and support our arts world!
I’m sure many of you are feeling the same way, particularly in my home town of Canberra where we experienced heavy bush fire smoke from the coast, to our own bush fires, to a devastating hail storm and then COVID-19.
There’s certainly no manual to deal with a catastrophic and life changing year, nor is there any rule book on how we should cope or feel.
I’m the first to admit it’s been a roller coaster of emotions. The biggest hit was financially. I was working for two other retailers, as my side hustles in Canberra; both were forced to close at the height of the COVID crisis in Canberra.
I felt so lucky to have the amazing family and friends who supported me ad my family during this time. It has been truly a tough year in my business and for everyone. Everyone has had their own stories through this strange time in history. A year we will never forget.
What was pretty clear was that Mother Nature was pretty cranky! Is this a subliminal message asking us to slow down and reassess...to think about what we are doing to our planet and work out how we can do better when we come out the other side of this pandemic?
I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been doing during the COVID period, much of which has helped me gain a state of ‘normal’ back in my life during an unprecedented time and hopefully give you some hope and energy to put back into your families, health and work during this up heaval.
I was in a state of despair for a number of weeks, but knew I needed to climb out from under the covers and resume living. I was going to be very easy to slip into a dark place unless I engaged in self-help...I knew I need to engage in passion projects to stay on top of my own mental health and ensure I was ready and able to assist family, friends and clients.
The first project was a vegie patch. I love home grown vegies, they taste better, they’re better for you and they don’t come wrapped in plastic! This was something the whole family had fun pitching in and completing, and it was completed during some sensational warm Autumn days. I also wanted to do something outside in the fresh air with my daughter together as we navigated this strange new world. Also to take her out of the home school confusion families were facing. It was a bit of mental health uplift project.
Project number 2; add to our brood of chickens with some ducks. We invested in ducks and more chickens! They have a nice relationship with each other (most of the time), and they are time wasters to watch in the backyard. Project number 1 and 2 tend to combine a little...the feathered ones think they should reap the benefits of the fine produce from the vegie patch as well! Plus it is another distraction for my primary school aged daughter and a good way to learn about nature and caring for pets.
Next came a truly rewarding project...I embarked on Scrubs with Love. There were so many stories across Canberra and Australia generally of a shortage of medical scrubs. I’m always looking for new and innovative ways to design, however this was something I’d never imagined I’d be designing. It was an ideal way for me to use my design skills and contribute in a real way to the COVID crisis assisting our frontline health and medical staff. Within 12 hours of launching I had orders for 15 sets and members of the public were offering to buy scrubs for health staff. It was an amazing experience. And it was very interesting learning about the medical teams and what they were facing in their work during the Covid 19 pandemic.
In addition to Scrubs with Love I’ve also been making face masks... more details. I actually wasn’t going to make any but I kept getting asked and now we have a huge amount we are making. This also helps with keeping our makers in work as well as ourselves. This is an on going project and many more masks to come for Jindii Eco Spa and the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
I’ve also used this time to collaborate with some other amazing Canberra women in business on the sustainability front, including: Bianca Prichard at #JindiiEcoSpa; Alison Plevey at the #AustralianDanceParty; Lauren Howell from #ThePlasticFreeShop and Abby French from #BursariaWorkshop.
I have also been really moving a lot of things out of my studio. I know some of you will laugh at this as I am always telling everyone for over a year or more that is what I am doing. My studio is a huge mess most of the time, creative license is allowed in a designers studio, but really it was doing my head in. In between all of my work I have been recycling and re-homing a lot of things from my studio. Hence my huge SAMPLE SALE this weekend at Jindii Eco Spa. I am selling loads of samples and seconds and some new stock. I’ll try to do some of this live if you are not in Canberra.
If you are please book a ticket – it is free to come.
While 2020 has thrown more than a few curve balls our way, I’ve also found the forced slow down sort of and looked at what I have been doing with my business over the years and revalute my new direction. This time has allowed me to venture down paths I may never have explored.
While I can’t wait for the day that COVID is a history lesson in our schools as opposed so our reality, I’ll grab the silver linings with both hands when they pop up.
I’d love to hear from you about your experiences this year...the good, the bad and the ugly. What’s been your lowest low, what’s been the highest high? What have you done to keep your spirits high at an uncertain and difficult time?
Stay safe and I am sending a huge virtual hug if you are feeling lost during this time, especially to our Victorian friends, families, suppliers and customers.