If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s that a lot can change, quickly and often it is beyond our control. Forced change can help to bring new perspective and it’s good to take a step back and assess how things are going and this is what I have done in more recent weeks.
It will be 2 years next month, since I opened the doors to the Alice in Scandiland highstreet shop and wow, what a 2 years it has been. Initially I didn’t have an official shop website, it’s a lot of work to build and get right and I wanted to concentrate on establishing one thing, before committing to the next. Getting the look and feel right was so important to me, I wanted everything to be instantly recognisable as me, my style, my look, my voice. On June 1st 2019 I launched the website and things have gone from strength to strength. It’s wonderful to know people from all over the world can and do share the love for my business and during an international pandemic, with the physical shop forced to close, having an online outlet has been a total blessing.
This said, the knock on effect of this positive response, during such difficult, restrictive weeks and months, has been the pressure and anxiety of running things on my own. As someone who has suffered with depression in recent years and has battled with anxiety almost daily since Covid-19 took over our lives, it has been difficult to keep a balance between business, home and mental health. I’m sure many of you reading this have felt like they are not achieving what they think they should, what they had hoped they would be at this stage of 2020, but how could we? Our world has been turned upside down, inside out and the ongoing uncertainty of so many aspects of life keeps us on an unhealthy edge, trying to carry on, forced to, but always subconsciously aware we are teetering, wobbling.
I have reached a point now where I am looking ahead, to how I can improve things for both my customers but also, very importantly, for myself. I find I am on my own in my work world and it can feel quite isolating, the often unspoken side to self employment and entrepreneurial pursuits. Trying to facilitate and encourage the growth of the shop, juggle being a mother to 2 little people who have not been to school for 4 months, my husband is the most supportive, self sacrificing man, together we have shared the burden of both continuing to work throughout. Looking at the rest of the year and how things will not be “normal” in the world of retail for quite some time, something needs to change.
So, change is coming and it’s going to be good for all of us…
A few weeks ago I decided to take a leap of faith and adapt the structure of my business. I have employed a South West based Fulfillment company, who will be helping me with online sales, taking in stock, picking, packing and posting. Despite my current workload quadrupling, temporarily, to get this all organised and setup, already I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Just in the last week I have seen a little surge in my ability to be creative, to create new content, to find the energy to continue working towards reopening the physical shop more regularly and here I am even writing a blog post about it all!
It’s quite something, taking a part of what you have built yourself and handing it over to someone else, I’ve felt incredibly vulnerable and inadequate at times this past fortnight, lifting the lid off the top of things and allowing other people to look deep inside, essentially into my brain, which doesn’t always make a lot of sense to the outside world. The focus has been so much about the data and back end of the business and I am very ready to admit this is not my strongest area. I’m the creative one, I want to be creative again!
I have battled with many feelings over the last months, fear for the future, joy that I have such wonderful customers, who have been so supportive and encouraging, stress, because at my busiest, in full lockdown, when I could only open the online shop for 12 – 24hrs a week and would receive an amazing amount of orders in that time, despite the positives of this, how fortunate I was to be in that situation, when others have not been able to adapt their businesses sufficiently/ quickly enough to the needs of an online outlet, during this I felt very alone. Overwhelmed by it all, constantly trying to catch myself up and feeling like, in order to keep one plate up, I had to let all the others come crashing down. I still haven’t picked up all of those pieces.
I don’t want to feel like that again, ever.
So I am outsourcing, I am accepting my limitations and embracing all the good things it will mean for me, my little shop, my wonderful customers and the future of Alice in Scandiland. It is still me, it’s still my ideas, imagery, words, thoughts and feelings, but logistically, behind the scenes, things will be smoother, postage options will be better, I’m going to be able to offer a faster delivery option, a cheaper option for smaller items, I’m going to be able to take a day off and recharge, I could even go on holiday and things can still function.
I hope you will see the change, see me getting back to what I do best, what I hope it is that you stick around here for – inspiration, accessible/ achievable ideas, my shop and the things that make it a bit different, my support for small businesses and the Mentor/ Instagram Creative Workshops I so enjoyed. I’d also love to expand my design work, I quietly work away with a few clients from time to time, helping them to work through their ideas for their home, bringing my insight to the mix and I really enjoy this.
In the short interim, whilst I transition over to the new system and setup, orders placed from this evening (22/07/20) will not be sent out until Thursday ish next week.
I can’t wait to move into the next chapter for the shop and see where things can take me, for someone who a little over 2 years ago had no intentions of being a shop owner, life has certainly taken me on a ride and I am so incredibly thankful I decided to jump on.