March 20, 2020
It's the 19th March 2020, just a little bit before lunchtime and just short of three weeks since the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed in the UK. So much has changed in that very short space of time! Things moved rapidly from the word on the street thinking "it's just another flu" to all UK schools and universities being closed for the foreseeable future and many people following advice to self isolate for 7, 14 or 84 days!
So, of course, we've all had to react just as quickly. Make on the spot decisions about where we need to be, what resources we need in place (kind of wishing I'd bought shares in Andrex right about now!) and how we're going to carry on functioning; as an individual, as a family, as a community and as a business. And those speedy decisions are made by our gut instincts because we're a bit triggered at the moment by our flight or fight responses. If there's one thing that shines a light on the core values of a human being, it's pressure like that!
So, how have we reacted? How have you reacted? What's going on in your head, in your family, in your community and in your business? I'm sure that we've all been in conversations lately that seem to enhance our level of calm when the rational voices are speaking, and equally, there have been conversations that have deepened our sense of panic when the fear has been speaking.
In the words of motivational speaker Jim Rohn:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
The people we surround ourselves with are the biggest influence on our behaviour and attitudes. Which means, the people you are around — what they’re thinking, saying, doing and becoming — sets the course of your life. The people you spend the most time with shape who you are. They determine what conversations dominate your attention.
From my perspective that is never more evident than in times of unprecedented crisis like this. And if we really are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, then I must be "average amazing" because my two teammates, Catherine and Rachel, are outstanding.
Just as a tiny bit of background. I'd already been out of the studio for nearly two weeks after a small shoulder surgery before Coronavirus really hit, and that in itself had come about with only two days notice! Just as I'm getting to the end of my "sling phase" (seriously stylish - keep an eye out for blue nylon slings on the catwalks soon) and could be getting back to it all, my husband comes down with the dreaded symptoms and we're in full lockdown.
These two wonderful women took everything in their stride, covering all the physical work that I couldn't do, receiving in good humour all my brain dumps of work that could be done, moving computers and stock around to create emergency contingency plans for if they have to work from home long term and generally lifting mine and each other's spirits. What diamond's they are. And have always been actually - I didn't for one second expect any less of them.
So, if they are two of my five, then I already have an amazing baseline!
Having their immediate and unwavering support has enabled us as a business to keep going and offer our lovely customers a few little extras as well. We sent out an email to our newsletter subscribers this week to say that we're now, and for the foreseeable future, offering free gift wrapping and gift messaging on all our products. If you are sending something directly to the recipient because you can't see them in person, we'll do our best to make it a bit more special - just let us know it's a gift and what gift message to include. So, a little bit like this but with ribbon and some added pizazz!
We also tried to think about how we could show our appreciation to the front line workers in the NHS who are under so much pressure right now. All we could think was to offer as big a discount as we could. So, if you're an NHS worker and need to send someone a gift, we're offering a 35% refund on your purchase. Just send us a pic of your NHS ID card (with any sensitive info hidden if need be) along with your order number and we'll do the rest. If there's a better way to do that, then let us know - it's the only way we could think of for now.
Widening the circle, what about the rest of the community? How's that going? How's your local world reacting to this?
Okay, yes there has been panic buying. It's amazing what makes people feel safe and I honestly think the majority of that behaviour has been motivated by fear, not reckless selfishness. The result is the same and I really hope that behaviour is coming to an end now and supermarkets are starting to put measures in place to manage that situation. Outside of that, I'm so heartened to see the good and the brave that is rising up everywhere I look. Neighbours are reaching out to each other and making sure the vulnerable are looked after; friends are having virtual coffee meets to keep each other sane or doing food drops to those self-isolating; humour, in general, has notched up to a new height on social feeds proving that there really is one great human reaction we all have in common (see Dame Julie Dench's sheep hat for example!)
Here are some of my favourites:
And so, so many more. Really everywhere you look, the best is coming out in people. And it just keeps coming. Each small action prompts another small action in our communities, both the physical ones and the virtual ones. Maybe then, actually, we're not the average of just the five people around us. Maybe we're greater than the average.
Love to you all
Betsy and her team of superwomen
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April 15, 2020
We thought for a long time about whether to have a break, how that would look, what kind of business we would come back to if we did and what our impact is on the other businesses we work with and our customers.