As an interior designer or brand, how has the pandemic affected your work?
I am an interior designer with a fledgling business, which after a tough January and February was just really starting to take off. The projects that I had literally signed on in early March are still there – thank goodness – but with three children to either home school or purely care for and entertain 24/7, I am completely unable to continue with my work as I would like to. Everything is on hold OR I try to carve out a millisecond of time in the evenings to do what I can, much like so many other people right now.
Further to that, how have you responded to the challenges? What measures have you put in place to not only ensure safe practices but to safeguard your business?
I am 'lucky' to not be responsible for anyone else's livelihood right now, which must be an enormous pressure and feeling of responsibility. As a sole trader I have made sure that any meetings are now done by email/zoom or the best, a telephone call. I have let all of my clients know how we can proceed relevant to their projects, thankfully with everyone in the same position right now, people are understanding and completely on board with any delays.
In terms of my business, all I can do is keep it ticking along at a rate that is achievable for me and my clients. I remember Polly, my business coach, telling me at the very beginning of setting up my business, that if you do one small thing a day to push your business forward, be it literally sending an email, posting something on social media, networking within the industry, completing an admin task … any of the above can give you a sense of achievement and getting closer to your goals. I have this great piece of advice ringing in my head at the moment, so even on the worst days knowing that I have done one small achievable task makes me feel positive.
I have not only lowered expectations of myself, but also of others in terms of time scales – I certainly don't expect clients or suppliers to get back to me in a short turnaround. If anything, I think this pandemic is forcing us to be so much more patient with each other and less demanding of people's time and energy. I hope this stays with us when this is all over.
We are all trying to find silver linings to this crisis. Some are finding more time to be creative – with or without children! – to think about issues in a different way, to explore a new skill or to improve an existing one. What has been your experience so far in terms of creative thinking and output?
Creative thinking has been a challenge being with my children all the time – output has been low and exhaustion levels high! That said, being stripped of freedom with your working day makes you think outside the box about how to move forward and how to carve out a little time here and there. I am getting better at finding activities for the kids to do while I work but don't appear to be working (Praise be for iPhones!). I think as we all settle more and more into this new normal, we can free up more brain space to allow for creativity and greater output.
Trying to stay on a positive note, we’d love to hear about any benefits you may have discovered amidst the difficulties?
Connecting with people like we haven't before. The Camberyard Collective, under Polly's wise and helpful guidance has given all designers and suppliers within the group a real sense of belonging, support and mutual respect that we face the same difficulties. Where we may have only connected at the odd industry event in the past, we are now in daily communication with each other without judgement. Polly's mantra of 'collaboration not competition' has never seemed more relevant.
Looking ahead to the future, when this pandemic is behind us, we’ve been thinking about how this enforced shutdown might be an opportunity to do things – personally, professionally and as a society – a bit differently. We’re thus interested to know how, if at all, you might take your own business forward in a new way?
I hope we will continue to connect as we have been doing, that there will be less speed and a slower pace to how we work. That perhaps we will lower our expectations of each other, particularly that we all have our own stresses and responsibilities that we often hide to 'get on with it' … ignoring your child asking you an important question or wanting your attention while we cry out that this email simply must be replied to in that moment. Finally, I won't take it all so seriously. When faced with something so much bigger than us, and so out of our control, it puts you in your place and makes you realise what is important. That's family, friends, a roof over our heads and our health. Anything on top of that is a bonus.
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