An event like covid-19 is a massive blow to a business like ours. Prior to March, we had a thriving little enterprise. An original, quality collection of adornment pieces. Two well-known and much-visited shops, staffed by an amazing retail team who we could rely upon without question, and who love our business deeply. An equally reliable and enthusiastic production team, who worked from home every week making beautiful things. And a management team with their fingers on the pulse, always with one eye to the future of the business, and the other to the welfare of our staff. We were able to sign permanent contracts with everyone who worked in the company, which offered a degree of stability that few people working in handmade design have. Sales in our shops were predictable enough, and we had great wholesale clients around the world who would order with regularity, and sold our work with integrity. To be honest, I think we’re only now realizing how good we had it, and the strength of what we had spent eleven years building.
Since March 24th our shops have been completely closed, and our staff are at home on full pay. It’s been really rough. Our sales were already impacted before we had to close. The first month-end, March, we were able to survive because dear friends and family contributed to our wage bill by making a donation, buying vouchers, or pre-paying for future orders. Those friends and family are saints, in my opinion. The second month, we were able to survive in part thanks to them, and mostly thanks to online sales as I got the online shop up and running. Most of those sales came via a colleague-friend who promoted us widely among her friends and contacts. And those customers too are saints, as they bought in the knowledge that it would take some time for their orders to arrive.
We’re now going into our third month of closed shops. Even when we are allowed to open, our normal dependence on sales to visitors from other countries will mean that our sales will be heavily impacted. Most government support schemes explicitly exclude foreign-owned businesses from receiving any support, so despite my desperate desire to become a citizen, we are not able to find support funds that many other businesses can access. It is dawning on us that our online shop, along with support from friends and family, will be our main source of sustenance for at least the next few months.
I’ll be honest, I don’t like asking for help. My family-famous motto as a toddler was ‘by self!’. When I’m being stubborn and failing to ask for help at work, my colleague mocks me by saying ‘by self, by self’ and staring me down! ‘By self’ isn’t going to get us through the next few months. I realise I need all the help I can get to keep our lovely business, and the families it sustains, afloat. So if, and only if, you have the capacity, I would truly appreciate any of the following.
If you’ve bought Beloved pieces which you love, and you’re a social media user, please consider sharing a photo of yourself wearing them and tagging us. You would be surprised how many people discover our work that way!
If you’re really looking forward to shopping in our physical shops, you can buy vouchers ahead of time, and use them when we reopen. https://pay.yoco.com/v/beloved-beadwork
If you’re looking for birthday or other gifts, please consider our online store. You can buy online vouchers there too. Remember to use the 40% discount code ThankYou40. That’s our ‘thank you’ for your patience with shipping delays. www.belovedbeadwork.co.za
If you have the capacity and desire to contribute directly to help us carry on paying full wages, you can send money using our PayPal here: https://www.paypal.me/belovedbeadwork Or using PayFast (a South African service with lower fees) by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org You have my assurance that these funds will be prioritised to supporting our immunocompromised staff who will need to stay at home even when restrictions are lifted.
Much, much strength to you. This time is difficult for everyone. Please be kind to yourself.