March 19, 2021at storksak
Business As (Un)usual
An unedited, honest Q&A with the Storksak team about their lives in lockdown.
On 20th March 2020 we closed the doors to our office and haven’t all been together since. A year on and our lives have been turned completely upside down as our ‘new normal’ is now working from home, wearing masks, going for walks and only seeing friends and family in brief intervals, if at all. Now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are eagerly hopeful for days back together, collaborating and enjoying the buzz of the office once more.
Our Storksak team have tirelessly worked (remotely) together to ensure our products and service still meet our high standards. So let’s give some time to our wonderful team by speaking to them about their individual experience through lockdown and how it impacted ‘business as usual’.
The Storksak Mothers. Steering the ship, with the incredible ability to have eyes on everything all at once. You will not find two people more passionate about what they do.
What does this lockdown feel like to you?
To me, it feels a little like a slow movie which I’m playing just a very tiny part in. Life still seems for the most part full and busy, but I’m very aware that I’m lucky to be able to juggle work, kids, and family. Not being alone, whilst sometimes a little claustrophobic keeps things in perspective. I go from feeling ok, to feeling anxious and worried, but I keep reminding myself that these feelings pass and that it’s a very normal way to feel. - Mel
What is the craziest thing you’ve had to do?
Use our sons’ clothes cupboard for a desk! Feeling the aches and pains of sitting at our kitchen table, I decided to work standing up for a while. I found the quiet and private space filled with underwear quite special in a way! - Mel
Running a business, how have you managed?
We’ve literally all had to pull together and work like never before. It’s been very hard, and we’ve had many sleepless nights worrying about if our warehouse will cope with the restrictions, whilst keeping everyone safe. Stores closing without notice, strains on our factories, our small team, and the impact on our cash-flow has been hugely challenging. We have had to find out so much for ourselves really. The knock-on effect is that I've personally ignored my kids a lot, which I do feel guilty about, but luckily, my partner loves to take them out on runs, and bike rides, and this has been a huge bonus at a time when our four walls have become so familiar. - Mel
We’ve had to find out a lot by ourselves really. Unfortunately the help regarding Brexit has been very patchy, so I’ve had to devote a lot of time working out a solution! As a small business you can’t afford to let a chunk of your business go, just because it’s become near impossible to keep going, so it’s been tough, but we’ve managed to get through it. Having such a great team, has been so supportive. Most of our very small team, have been with us for a long time and so the intuitive nature in which we all work together has been wonderful. Good solid advice if you can find it. We’ve probably spent much more than anticipated in legal and accounting advice, but it’s been necessary. Not allowing yourself to bury your head in the sand when the really difficult stuff comes your way, is No 1. There are times when we have felt like doing so, but you really know in business, that every day counts and every decision does make a difference. This is what you embrace when running your own business and even though it’s not just me and Mel at this point, we feel the responsibility of our whole team always. - Suzi
DESIGN & MARKETING
The creative team are always throwing around new ideas for designs, campaigns and most of all making sure you the customer is always at the forefront of everything we do.
What has helped you get through the last year?
My friends. I live with 2 other girls and I genuinely don’t know how I would have got through the last year without them. We made sure that every weekend we had something fun to do together. Whether that was a new game to play, bring out the wii or the dance mat, having a big sleep over in the living room or creating our ‘own restaurant’ by cooking new foods from scratch and dressing up like we were going out. We even did a wine tasting and bought all the things to do it properly! It really lifts your spirits and gives you something to look forward to and gives each weekend a purpose instead of just another day. - Jemma
This has been such a strange and hard time for everyone. If you had asked me this time last year, if we would still be in lockdown, I would have definitely said no. To be in lockdown or, on some sort of restriction for a whole year is draining. So seeking out the positives to keep me going has definitely helped. My partner and I are expecting our first child, so that has been a big positive and focus. Every time I feel sad for not being able to see friends and family. I just think, there will be a little bundle of joy soon. The thought of being responsible for another person puts everything into perspective. Plus hopefully with our easing out of lockdown by this summer, we will all be able to all celebrate together. - Sherina
What would have made things easier for you?
Work wise - having a home office would have helped. I've been living with a pile of bags in my living room for nearly a year now, and that is the minimum of what I need. Working from home has definitely been a challenge for me as I'm used to having samples, fabric swatches & trim references close to hand but just don't have enough space to keep everything. Personally - I think being closer to family would have made this time easier. None of my family live in London so not being able to go and stay with them has been hard, especially as this year has made everyone realise how precious time spent together really is. - Emma
Do you prefer working from home?
I actually do! I used to spend around 3 hours a day commuting and it not only made me exceptionally tired but it also took a big chunk out of my day. Although I miss the office banter we do try and speak with each other a couple of times a week and keep the moral going. I now spend my extra time much more productively getting up to do an at-home exercise class before work or going for a walk and in the evening calling friends and family or doing a Spanish class! - Jemma
What has been the most unexpected walk you’ve been on?
I live in Hackney and have only just discovered the River Lee Navigation canal path, I walk from Hackney Marshes, through to the Olympic Village and then onto Victoria Park. It's a nice mix of urban and green, and is a good walk for spotting Storksak’s hanging from buggies which always makes my day. I had no idea such a lovely walk was right on my doorstep. - Emma
What are the best and worst behaviours you have adopted?
At the start of lockdown my partner and I started running with the help of the NHS couch to 5k. Having never run before, I am so glad this app exists otherwise I think I would have given up. Being quite far along now in my pregnancy, I can no longer run, but I do go for regular long walks. Which I would have never done before the pandemic. I now appreciate spending some quiet time out in nature. Spending so much time at home, means that our spaces need to work much harder. So I am constantly trying to tweak, rearrange or tidy areas. Which ultimately leads to more mess than before I started. At this point I am easily distracted and have a tendency to leave things half done, much to the annoyance of my partner. - Sherina
Down time - How have you managed to separate work from leisure time?
At the beginning, like everyone, I struggled to turn my laptop off because its all to easy to go back to it again when you remember something you forgot to do or want to make notes for tomorrow. Now I realise its more important than ever to separate your work time from your leisure and down time. Although you are in the same room, we do small things like swap seats at the dining room table so you don’t eat where you work, we try not to sit on the sofa or in bed to work as this is where we relax in the evening. Having small separations actually makes the world of difference and realising you need that time is very important. - Jemma
MERCHANDISING & CUSTOMER SERVICE
Want to know exactly when new stock is arriving? These lovely ladies have all the inside intel on when our latest styles are coming in and of course, are always happy to help with all your questions.
Have you discovered new things about yourself or family?
Yes, I actually really like them! I think with juggling work, being a mum, keeping the house tidy and the fridge full etc. this leaves little time to sit back and enjoy watching your children growing and developing. The time flies and all of a sudden, they are young adults and really interesting and refreshing to converse with. We’ve had more time to get to know each other so that is definitely a positive. - Lucinda
Have any positives come from the pandemic?
I will definitely appreciate seeing my family and friends more after this and won’t take that for granted anymore! I have weirdly enjoyed slowing down a bit and actually taking a breather in this new slower paced life. I use to cram in as much as I could in the evenings and weekends and although I really miss my social life, it’s been nice to have some time for myself. - Lucy
How have you kept motivated within your team?
By email and the occasional Zoom call. We are all in the same boat and just getting on with it. We all work really well together which is a massive bonus! - Lucinda
Any new behaviours you’ve adopted?
The best new behaviour is probably going for a walk every day. I had never valued the real importance of fresh air and walking, or rather I’d taken it for granted. - Frances
Parenting; How has the divide at home been working for you?
Not a problem for me as my kids are doing online learning although as I work in the kitchen, I get regular requests for food…. - Lucinda
SALES & ACCOUNTS
These guys are the first port of call for our retailers. They know just how to keep the business ticking over and are the masters of keeping everyone calm when pressures are running high.
What does this lockdown feel like to you?
To me, this lockdown feels like being trapped in a weird dream. Everything has stopped and days are passing by without you even noticing it… I want to keep living my life and plan my next steps (as I like organising) but, this pandemic has taught me that life won’t always let you do that and you definitely need to let go and adapt. - Paula
Who has helped you to stay positive over the last year?
This year was definitely a challenge for many of us but the love of my family made a huge difference as living on your own in a foreign country is never easy. I moved to London 7 years ago and my family usually visit me often. It was definitely hard when the lockdown started in March, because, even though I now have a lot of friends here, you realized that being 1300 miles apart from your family is a huge thing and it is very scary. I felt so stressed and sad that I couldn’t be there with them that we started video calling twice or sometimes even more a day. At first it was only with my parents and then we started doing group calls with the rest of my family. The thing that was making me feel even more stressed it was the fact that flights were cancelled and there was no way to go to Italy for a few months and I was very concerned about their health. I am very sensitive and having to deal with all these mixed feelings was very hard and sometimes I felt so lonely that I would cry the whole day. My parents were amazing! They were very supportive and they did their best to help me staying positive!
When I moved to the UK my parents (my mother especially) was making a huge deal about me leaving and I couldn’t understand why so the day I left she told me “you’ll understand how hard it is to see you leaving, when you’ll be a mother”. I am not a mother but I understood the meaning of what she wanted to tell me, during the pandemic because I felt like a daughter again and not like an independent 34 years old women. - Adriana
Post pandemic, do you think how we live will change or just go back to the ‘old normal’?
I don’t think we will be go back to normal in a long time (if we ever do that). However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I like the idea of being able to work from anywhere in the world every now and then. It makes you appreciate what you have at home. - Paula
Any tips for reliving stress/ anxiety?
Exercising, walking and trying new hobbies. I know this would be something that most people probably say but it definitely works! And: take deep breaths when everything looks like its falling apart (let those thoughts go). - Paula