Guest Blog by Fiona Berry-Business Dedication in Lockdown IsolationMay 10, 2020
Business Dedication in Lockdown Isolation
Of course, I had to give my blog a title that rhymes! Poetry is my name and poetry is my game. I’m Fiona Berry from Berry Poetic and I write personalised poems and ready-made ditties for all occasions, weddings, birthdays, new babies, even funerals.
Lockdown life for me, like many, has been an opportunity for reflection and innovation in business, a time to relax a little and reflect on what’s important. You could say it’s been Berry Poetic! But it hasn’t all been writing and rhymes, I’ll admit it’s been difficult at times (see I can’t stop!). It took a while for me to do anything business related and find my ‘mojo’ for a few reasons and to find a new way of working in the strange circumstances in which the world found ourselves.
Dealing with Guilt
When lockdown was first announced, I’d already been working from home for a week for my day job, managing the children’s service for a charity (which I love). I quickly found that my day job became a day and night job! I found it difficult to switch off and felt pressure to prove how we were adapting – mainly from myself! Even my dog got square eyes from me being on my laptop so much! I was done in and had no time to give Berry Poetic a glance. Any second I wasn’t working I felt I should be and felt guilty even thinking about working on Berry Poetic when there were vulnerable people to help!
I also felt guilty doing social media posts or any kind of selling, it just didn’t feel right and I didn’t know what to say so I just didn’t say anything. I decided this was ok and laid off the pressure on myself to do anything for Berry Poetic. Being in a different position to many small businesses, I wasn’t relying on the income so I had the luxury to relax a bit which I appreciate many other business owners couldn’t do. However, when one of my followers got in touch to ask if I was ok as they missed my posts, it got me thinking.
Reigniting my passion
One morning I received a ‘Thinking of you’ card from a friend. It was so lovely to get something so thoughtful and personal in the post, it made me smile and made my day! That’s when I decided to bring postcards back into fashion! I started with some cute little designs with ditties to send to friends and loved ones. This soon developed into a range for our Frontline Heroes.
Being a qualified teacher with many friends in the profession and also having worked in the NHS, with many friends who are nurses, I was hearing stories about their experiences – so far removed from my being on a laptop all day – and wanted to do something to say Thank You. With the start of #clapforourcarers I decided to write a range of poems to celebrate and recognise the dedication of our key workers. I decided these would be not for profit with a donation from each sale going to NHS Charities.
However, I still had the issue of finding time to create these!
Throwing away routine
As mentioned, I was finding it hard to stop working. I kept reading how important it was during this period to establish a new ‘routine’. I’m usually up at 5 most mornings for a long to commute to work where I swim first and I also do yoga twice a week, but I wasn’t ‘making’ the time or discipline when if anything, without my commute I had more time! But exercise is good for my mind and not having these I was noticing a difference.
Social media was telling us to use this time to meditate, take up baking or a new hobby but I couldn’t even find time for my usual hobbies! I tried establishing a new routine but before long I felt overwhelmed. In the end, I decided to go against the grain of the ‘advice’ and throw any kind of routine out of the window! Nothing was normal or routine about our situation and forcing myself into a new routine wasn’t helping.
So, I carried on working if I was in the zone, both on work and Berry Poetic, if that meant until 2am then fine, I did yoga when I felt like it, took the dog out when I felt like it (always once a day!) and ate when I felt like it! I also took a week off work once things calmed down a bit so I could properly focus on Berry Poetic and that’s when I was able to allow myself to really enjoy writing again. I even used the time to set up a Facebook and Instagram shop to make it easier for people to click through to products if they liked something.
Enjoying the response
That week I designed 8 postcards, 4 generic Miss You style and four for essential workers; Nurses, Doctors, Teachers and Key Workers and I’ve since added ones for Posties and Carers. The response and feedback I’ve received has been so lovely, with people telling me what a nice idea it was. I had one ward sister buy 7 Nurse poems for her staff. It’s been so lovely to know people are sending my postcards to bring a smile to people’s faces during this time.
I had an article included on Standup for Southport and I’ve sold many postcards and seen visits to my Etsy shop increase by 945% compared to last year! I’ve just ordered lots more postcards, along with some new designs. While Personalised Poems are my passion and my USP, they are quite niched so I’m loving having some new products that people can send easily and quickly to loved ones and am now designing a range of greetings cards too. I’ve already had a couple of return customers and I’m hoping that people will see the Personalised Poems I do too and come back to me one day when they need something more unique for someone.
I’ve still not found any kind of routine, I’m doing what I can when I can, but I’m ok with that. And I’ve not tidied out one drawer or cupboard either!
Visit Fiona’s shop at bit.ly/berrypoetic