I’m so excited to be back! – Finally we're able to start trading on our website again, and slowly but surely we're relaunching on our other channels - It's slow going, and I'm back working in the spare room where I started from - but I can't tell you how lucky I feel to still have a business, and to not have lost everything I've worked for over the last 7 years - others have not been so fortunate.
I'll be honest, in lockdown 1.0 there were some very dark times. There were nights on end I spent pacing around the kitchen at 3am while my family slept, wondering how on earth I was going to pay the mortgage, thinking we would lose not only the business, but our house too.
Many of the retailers we had been working with had either gone bust or were certainly were NOT looking for travel products. In lockdown, placing an order for makeup bags and wash bags was not top of their list of priorities!
All our big orders were cancelled, leaving us with debts we couldn't hope to pay off, and zero cash. Our stock was frozen so we couldn't even trade online. It seemed hopeless and I was so close to giving up.
Being an entrepreneur is often lonely, and I certainly felt isolated then, beating myself up about bad decisions I've made and actions I hadn't taken... I was scared of sharing my worries with my family and friends because I thought they would say I'd been stupid and reckless.
I had to dig deep and re-examine my values and goals. The pandemic has given me the opportunity to scrutinise every aspect of my business to decide what's working, what's not, and whether I had the energy, or even the desire to continue.
During this dark time I was lucky enough to have the support of a couple of amazing mentors, who gave up their time for free to guide me through. I will be forever grateful to them for believing in me, and it goes without saying that my family didn't call me stupid or reckless and were in fact, an incredible source of support. Sometimes it takes a crisis to fully understand the love you have around you and what's really important.
It's one thing deciding you want to carry on, it's quite another having the resources to pay off your debts - I was completely stuck on that one. I'd invested every single penny into the business and hadn't kept anything aside, and with my stock frozen I couldn't even sell anything on my website. Again it seemed hopeless, but again, someone totally unexpected stepped up and something astonishing happened. An associate I'd worked with for years suddenly announced she was not only going to pay off the debt, but invest in the company. You could have knocked me down with a feather!
So, unbelievably, I'm ready to move on, full of appreciation for the kindness I've been shown and wholly realising how lucky I am. I'm determined to learn my lessons and not only create something that is better than ever before, but find a way to give back too.
It's not going to be easy. I'm 6 years older than when I first started and to be honest, I don't have the energy I once did! But I know that the wonderful support I have will make up for the lack of energy, and will keep me going when times are tough.
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