Survive & Diversify
What a mad year it has been eh!? From starting off with hope of it being our biggest year yet, to closing the studio for months, then diversifying and changing course and fighting to survive, to starting to thrive again. Wowee!
Despite the uncertainty and the anxiety all business owners faced during this time with the pandemic, we managed to survive as a company, creating new products (it was scary to launch them into the unknown) and new experiences that we feel very fortunate to have been able to do. With creative thinking, hard work, customer focus and persistence, along with a bit of luck, we’re getting through and firmly believe that with that mix, everything is possible.
My fiancé and business partner Diana and I are fortunate enough to live in our own home that has enough space for us to work comfortably. Many out there haven't had that luxury and may have kids to take care of out of school or have had family members or friends falling ill with the virus. We have been incredibly fortunate this year and are loath to complain about things below as a result and wanted to make the most of it. If it comes across as positive, please don't take offence, this is a blog to celebrate the highlights and pivotal experiences we have had as a business in 2020 and in spite of the pandemic, and I hope that it inspires you too. We are focusing on the bright side where we can as there’s so much negativity flying around - understandably, as it has been really hard for so many and continues to be.
New Year, Fresh Start
The year started off well, as demand for M.Y.O's creative classes soared in Jan, Feb and March 2020. We also trialled a Creative Lates concept which was supported by the brill digital educators Growth Tribe - bringing creativity to networking in the studio with lots of lovely people. Creative networking.
We ran a series of creative sessions locally with Better Bankside and had one of our proudest moments to date, being a partner on and having a huge room at the Life Lessons festival 2020 in the Barbican Centre, bringing a fun and relaxing creative outlet to 100s of guests over the course of the weekend event, surrounded by other phenomenal partners like the Sunday Times, Waterstone’s and Penguin. It felt a little out of our league, but turned out to be a fantastic experience.
A team from Marks & Spencer came to use the studio to go wild for a creative team building day and we headed to Canary Wharf to run abstract painting sessions at Miss Jones PA's Wellness Summit. We also hosted a couple of our 'hustle days', to support creative entrepreneurs in the studio and share learnings and ideas with each other. It can be lonely working as an independent creative and so where possible we try and get everyone together and vibe off each other.
Whallop! Creativity in Isolation
It was going to be our best year ever - then March 16th - WHALLOP! Zero sales, cancellations and refunds. As it turned out, it would be July until we hosted another class. I’d actually been due to take that week off for holidays as I was pretty tired, there had been tonnes going on since Christmas and needed a little recharge.
#Createsolation was started on M.Y.O's instagram, where Diana (Diana was put on furlough in her job also) tried something creative each day and shared it with helpful how-to tips to inspire people at home to get creative and stay away from the news. We loaded up a few boxes of arts and crafts supplies from the studio. Wire art, origami, string art, lino printing, paper flowers, calligraphy, brush lettering and tonnes more. Had a little play with stop-motion too.
We reached 5,000 followers on Instagram too. Regular zoom calls were had with parents, family and close friends. Online quizzes anyone? Remember House Party? Joe Wicks kept the nation exercising and a trip to the local Morrison’s felt like going on holiday. Mid March to June went by in a flurry, as the nation adjusted to the new normal. This was going to be the case on and off until June / July 2021 we predicted, so had to plan and adjust accordingly - rolling lockdowns were inevitable until a vaccine was properly rolled out. The Government and local support had been really helpful to us. We know there are many who have fallen through the cracks of support - try to hang in there, it'll get better.
Large companies, who we generate most of our revenue from, tightened the purse strings for a while as they figured out what was happening - remote working, mental health support, childcare, holding onto clients etc. Virtual creative classes weren't an option for them really, yet. Doing lots of public online classes didn't seem to make much sense either, as there were so many great free things to do out there, as large institutions opened up their resources - virtual museums, virtual theatre shows with the National, which we availed of too! No time with all the quizzes and House Parties anyway! Thursday evenings were kept free to smash pots and pans in support of the incredible NHS workers, bringing local communities together.