What Covid-19 Has Taught Me (so far)
Updated: Aug 20, 2020
What a turbulent year this has been for us all. You don’t need me to tell you how emotionally, financially and physically disrupting 2020 has been. As we all counted down for New Year’s Eve (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) in 2019, we couldn’t have anticipated what the year ahead would hold.
From the Australian bush fires, to the floods, the death of George Flloyd, the riots globally, protests (peaceful and not so peaceful), the death tolls climbing world wide, businesses closing their doors, uncertainty ensuing and throwing us all off balance. It’s been hard to say the least.
I want to start by saying that this blog does not have the same style of photos as previous weeks. When writing this blog it was important for me to be respectful on this platform, and searching through images of myself in action or photos I could potentially create to add meaning to this blog really didn't resonate or surfice given the topic.
In my own little corner of the world what I’m about to write about looks and feels insignificant compared to all the mayhem happening globally. I think the thing for me which made the severity of the pandemic hit home for me was seeing the cafe next to my boutique close. The busyness of this iconic cafe is often intrinsically tied to the foot flow through my boutique door and vice versa. Then watching everyone pack up and go home. It was like out of a movie. By midday on this same day everyone had closed up their business and gone home. I wore an outfit the day this happened and since that day I’ve never been able to put it back on. In this international pandemic everyone has understandably responded differently. Some people responded with fear, some people responded with a scarcity mindset, and everyone was pushed to either fight or flight. I tried my best to respond with hope.
LESSON ONE: DON’T LET THE MEDIA DEFINE YOUR DAILY MINDSET
The negative news reports. The media focus on Covid-19. The constant updates which surround us coming out of the news morning and night. The search for something solid, consistent, the search for certainty in the most uncertain time. At the beginning of the pandemic people would come into my boutique and as you can imagine Covid19 was the hot new topic.
A lady who was browsing came in, and she said to me with the best of intentions and concern, “Oh my goodness Miss Henry, how does it feel to know that you’ve worked so hard and that you’re going to go broke?” I’ll never forget those words. They are ingrained in my memory. She was absolutely not saying it in a malice way, she was just speaking her thoughts out loud.
What I can tell you is that it’s hard to have a smile on your face for every other customer for the rest of the day after a comment like this one.
The unknown was crippling. I work 7 days a week, so with this in mind I wanted to make my boutique a place where the Covid19 conversation, fear, and anxiety were vanquished. Miss Henry Boutique has always been for the love of fashion, creative and personal expression through clothing and a place of humour and fun and it was going to stay that way. A fashion haven away from the world.
I banned Covid19 talk in my boutique and decided to walk the talk. I would have to think, move and do differently. It was time to adapt.
LESSON TWO: ADAPT AND PIVOT We created our own energy in store. I’ve always been active and present on social media. Now more than ever it became a vital tool to connect, communicate and bond at a deeper level, every day. People started to rely on watching our Instagram stories because we were a strictly non-Covid19 Instagram account. We addressed it but verbalise that we are all about happiness, thinking of normality returning in the future and focused on sharing of all the incredible fashion you can wear when we get some normality back. It helped people through the pandemic. We became the digital friend to new women who had never followed us previously. We created so much excitement, happiness, fun and hope. It was like going on a holiday and watching a movie for our audience and for us simultaneously.
This was no easy feat. My reality was that the street outside was completely silent. You could hear a pin drop and hear the wind softly and eerily blow. Peak hour traffic had vanished morning and night. All the businesses around me were closed. Everyone had gone home or shut their doors (or both) while they tried to figure out what to do.
People shopped with us because they wanted to support us, say thank you for the digital laughs and they wanted to see us in business if and when normality would return.
They looked forward to it every day and it generated a new found hope in our Miss Henry Boutique community.
Mama Dee did daily tarot readings (aka Pick a Card) and she would and still does put down 3 cards, you view them, pick one and each card has a meaning for you for what’s to come. My customers really enjoyed this and it filled us all with hope, thoughts of the future and a little sense of certainty and mental clarity. I would always pick a card too, it always makes me feel so much better.
I did the amazing race with fashion.
So I put as many outfits as I could on as fast as I could.
It was entertaining, high energy, fun and a great way to show everyone what we have in store in a time efficient way. Mama Dee would re-hang each outfit as I’d take it off to put on the next.
We made the boutique a warehouse. We were picking and packing parcels, writing hand-written ‘Thank you notes’ to each customer and I got promoted (or as I like to think, demoted, to warehouse manager). Mama Dee became the model and helped us make content in new outfits.
I worked longer hours than ever before. I virtually FaceTimed new and existing customers and we did one to one fashion styling sessions. It was so nice chatting to women from all over Australia and New Zealand. I pivoted by doing home deliveries each day.
I was so grateful for the sales. At the same time, it was so challenging for me logistically because having a small team (with myself as the only permanent staff member) I didn’t have the manpower overnight for this, so what this meant for me was that I was driving around until 10pm at night almost every day.
LESSON THREE: GENUINE RELATIONSHIPS AND GRATITUDE
Every sale meant success and gratitude in a whole new way.
I’ve always been grateful for anyone who has bought from me whether it’s a single pair of knickers or a whole new wardrobe and everything in between.
This time, this feeling x 1000. I was on cloud nine everytime I got a call, virtual styling session, or the occasional person would pop in with their takeaway coffee. We didn’t get many people through the door so I was strapped to my ringing phone and Instagram.
I’m grateful every day that because of all you lovely people I get to do what I love most for a living. During the initial occurrence of the pandemic to each day right now I couldn’t be happier to receive your texts, calls, DMs and support.
Thank you for loving The Fashion Fox and for loving Miss Henry, I wouldn’t still be here without you.
LESSON FIVE: Inside me was the need to survive, pay my bills, keep my business afloat, and to be able to continue to provide for my son. I don’t have the financial and emotional safety and support of a husband and I am very much on my own as a single mum.
What I learned was that we should never judge other people for the way that they respond under the duress and urgency of an international pandemic. Compassion for our fellow human is key.
I kept my boutique open during the depths of the Australian Covid19 lock down. This being said, it did in fact become a warehouse as I mentioned with seldom a visitor or customer. All social distancing measures were implemented with immediacy, we had hand sanitiser and were constantly wiping surfaces. Going to work gave me purpose on a personal level but also ensured I could sustain the basis of my livelihood such as weekly groceries, keeping the electricity on, paying for petrol, supporting my child.
I never dreamed that doing what I had to do to pay my bills and retain continuity of my life would be such a controversial thing to do. In the midst of angst, confusion and the feeling of stability falling away around us all, not everyone was okay with my boutique being open. Despite it being a warehouse 98% of the time.
What I've learned is that difference in opinion is what makes the world interesting, challenging and diverse.
What I did need to do was survive, pay my bills, stay afloat. I am also not realistically able to please everyone at all times (because I'm not a Chow Chow dog or a big fat slice of pizza haha).
After the initial distress, I decided consciously to let my goals and vision for the future dictate how I would behave. Instead of waking up afraid, uncertain and full of worry I dreamed of the future of my life and my boutique. I drew energy from this vision and put it into my social media platforms.
What Covid19 taught me was to not sweat the small stuff, surround yourself with amazing people who lift you up and embrace the idea that maybe the world will be a bit and a lot different now.
This blog is special to me because this year I’ve been made to grow in ways I never thought possible. The pandemic and everything that happened also birthed this blog, so thank you for subscribing and reading along.