One of the many perks of working with my Mom is we’ve had many opportunities to travel together both for business and pleasure.
On March 11th, 2020, we departed to Costa Rica on what we anticipated to be an epic family adventure. Never could we have imagined 6 days later we would be making the decision to temporarily close our business and lay off our entire team. At opposite ends of the Pacific Ocean, the phone call to Arlene was unimaginable. Mom and I on speakerphone, Arlene in-store, all sharing tears not knowing what the future would be. Flashback days earlier when I had been joking with parents at Zachary’s school about toilet paper hoarding. Fast forward to panicked messages from family and friends to come home immediately.
Our journey home was, thankfully, easy and in the wee hours of the morning, I hugged my Mom at the Vancouver airport knowing I wouldn’t see her or another soul besides my husband, son, and our backyard for the next two weeks.
Without our BB family, our store could not have survived. Arlene has been part of our team for 25 plus years. As both Mom and I were confined to our homes, without hesitation, Arlene was there to pick up the pieces. Some days, after we had been on the phone for an hour, there would be a knock at the door, and there she’d be, six feet back, sanitizer wipe in hand, to deliver some home-made cookies for Zachary.
Our team is amazing, and there were also many mornings I would receive a message from Janis or Julia letting me know there was a little gift at the front door for Zachary. I am so thankful for treats and building projects that magically appeared with the rising sun.
The 2-1/2 months we were closed were beyond stressful and homeschooling a 5-year-old was humbling. When the first lessons were emailed home and I had to go to YouTube on how-to instruct his math I knew I was in trouble. Sadly, these modern math lessons couldn’t aid in figuring out the financials of the store.
Our little boutique runs day to day, and quite often we fly by the seat of our pants. With a store full of Spring sleepwear, our web designer Lisa and I worked around the clock, wine in hand, to push our catalog website to an e-comm site almost overnight. With the world lounging at home we knew sleepwear needed to be our priority and within hours of launching, we received our first online order and saw a glimmer of the store’s future.
The balance between work and home has been difficult. How do we shut down and unplug in a world that delivers our work to our fingertips? Being able to dial into the store’s computer or have the phone forwarded to my home has been a blessing and a curse. Phone calls with clients surpassed store business and at times were lengthy, as many just needed a little human connection on the other end of the line… meanwhile I had my tiny human needing 100% of my attention.
In the world of fashion, the lingerie industry is intimate. Not just in the lacy bits but the comradery between fellow business owners and suppliers is one to be modeled after. I respect our friends that own lingerie stores and am thankful for our candid conversations. We were all facing our own struggles yet paddling in the same direction. Our suppliers have also been fantastic during these months. Most froze their accounting departments to help keep our small businesses afloat. Some held shipments, shipped to our homes, and even our client’s homes on our behalf. They responded on weekends, and with us worked around the clock to help us survive.
There are no words to describe the gratitude we have for our clientele that continued to support and keep us afloat during the closure. The small amount of business we were able to conduct helped us pay our rent and keep us treading. From personal deliveries, curbside pick-up, private shopping appointments, and the e-comm site, we were able to conduct just enough business that tucked us into an envelope to not be able to apply for the wage subsidy or rent relief. This was a little bittersweet. The panic and fear felt in March and April as we scrambled to figure out our financials were soon replaced with hope that our family-run business would survive.
June 1st, Mom and I reopened the store with nervous smiles hidden behind masks of what the day would bring. We were greeted with overwhelming community support that shopped with purpose and a new found respect was generated for small business in our neighbourhood struggling to survive. Mid-June, Arlene joined us back in-store and by the end of the month, most of our team was back.
A small silver lining during these times was the push or maybe more of a shove to jump into the online market. Almost 6 months to the date we temporarily closed, and many 3 am nights at my kitchen table I am excited to launch the second phase of our e-commerce site. The majority bras and briefs, sleep and loungewear can now be purchased from the comfort of your home. As the flannels arrive, and the leaves start to fall, we may be faced with new uncertainties but as a community we know we will get through them together. Thank you for supporting the dream and shopping local.
From our family to yours,
Take care ♥