My head is full of conflicting emotions about having to lockdown. It was very much compounded yesterday, when I went into the shop and had to pick and pack the orders from the first day of lockdown.
I looked out of the window and there were blue skies and sunshine, a beautiful day. Bar the fact that there were a few more car parking spaces than normal, it looked like a normal day - people were going about their business as normal. I couldn’t open my doors to them. It felt extremely odd, it made the shop feel like a very lonely place. It felt like its heart was missing without any customers in it.
I understand that we all need to carry on our lives as normal but it is very hard to be one of the ones who’s forced not to, knowing that other retailers who carry a few essential items can carry on as normal. I think that’s one of the hardest things about COVID it has created conflicts and we don’t want to have those conflicts of emotions.
Paul (my husband) and I are directors of Insideout and so we are one of the few that have slipped through the net in terms of pay and compensation. I understand that there are people that are happy on furlough and there are those that are not. There are those that are angry at having to work whilst their colleagues are on furlough. It’s such a hard environment and I think we all need to learn to be a bit kinder to each other in these times.
The shop is our life line. I have put my life into it over the last 16 years. We have worked so hard to build shops that are a visual feast and that’s what makes it so very hard to close the doors. We are closing the doors on what makes Insideout, Insideout.
It is hard to accept. I’m just not sure that small independent shops that are classed as ‘non-essential’ being closed is going to make any difference to the number of cases of COVID with the current restrictions that are in place. When I looked out of the window of my closed shop that day, there were so many people around. I just don’t see how the doors of businesses like mine being closed is going to help create a decline in the number of Covid cases.
So what are we doing to keep going and what can you do to help us?
With the doors to the shops shut, we are having to think out of the box about ways to get ourselves seen by our customers and to support the people that enjoy what we do. We want to bring it to them - but it’s how to do that for the best.
We will continue what we started during the last lockdown. Firstly, I will still be doing facebook lives so that we can still show people our wonderful shop, interact and engage with them, show them our environment - as well as show some of the product ranges we stock.
We will keep going on social media and just encourage people to support other businesses like ours.
If you would like to do something to help, then comment, share and like our posts; it really really does make a difference. When you do those things it helps other people see us. When other people see us they might buy from us - and if they buy from us, we might just be able to keep going.
Our website is a work in motion. We are constantly putting new products on there. At the moment we have nearly all our products on there, we have new things coming in all the time and so it evolves all the time. We’re really proud of it and we’d like you to be proud of it too.
During the first day of lockdown it was really well supported, but it has dropped off slightly - which is why we need to find ways to keep our website visual. Certainly anyone reading this blog can help us, feedback, tell others about us and even more importantly, engage with us on our social media channels. It really could mean the difference between keeping us going - or not.
As any of you will know that I am also a potter and so I will look forward to being able to spend some time in my studio during lockdown 2.
But I am also going to try and be a bit kinder to myself. I need to not overwork, which is a tendency when you are a small business owner and things aren’t exactly the way that you want them to be. I have to accept that a lot of this situation is beyond my control. And that we can only do what we can with things that are within our control.
So therefore I will be spending more time throwing clay and doing little facebook lives so that I can show you what I am doing in the studio too. I love watching other people play with clay - it’s very satisfying and soothing; it has a great affect on the mind.
The key thing is that we all look after ourselves. We all have battles to fight and they differ for all of us. But it is so important that we look after ourselves. There are some great tips out there that I have seen about ways to look after yourself in lockdown. Mine will be the clay, lots of walks and plenty of jigsaws! I love doing them and my mind just switches off. It’s simple but enjoyable and there’s always an end result.
We have lots of jigsaws available, click HERE to see them. I've picked some of my current favourites to show you below.
Finally, I just want to implore you to support your local businesses. If you are able to, it means the world and will keep us going.
I’ll also be doing some focus on some of our handmade partners because they are also very local to our business. They are British makers and it is just as important to do what we can to support them during these times - and any time.
I hope you stay safe and that you found this blog - and others on the site interesting. Please let us know your thoughts via our social media.