In this photo from last January, I had different plans for 2020.
Tricia and I were looking forward to a year of exciting growth. Plenty of travel included.
You know what happened next.
Here's how things changed for us.
1. The March shutdown instantly shut off our revenue streams
Heading into March 2020, our cafe was bustling and we'd celebrated a busy Valentine's Day in the floral studio. Or spring workshops were our most unique thus far and were sold out. Our April trip to The Cotswolds was booked with an exciting group of travelers. We were planning to lead a September trip to Tuscany. Showers and weddings were scheduled straight into fall.
All cancelled. Virtually overnight.
It was almost like starting from scratch.
Almost because we had two important strengths helping us move forward:
- A supportive and vocal audience (hello, you!).
- A backlog of ideas. Little seeds of concepts we'd thought of over the years, but never had time to bring to fruition. Or else they didn't exactly fit our business model.
Suddenly, we had time, an abundance of it. And our business model was blown wide open. The only blueprint left to follow was to be true to our brand. And that, for us, has always felt natural.
Here's what's happened since:
2. We transitioned to a retail pop-up model.
Since customers could no longer walk in during regular business hours, we had to create a safe reason for them to visit. Our June citrus tree sale was intended only to bring a little sunshine to those early lockdown days. In hindsight, it gave us an idea of how a pop-up model could work for other items, such as Village Baskets and Bread of the Week.
A bonus of this model is because all items are pre-sold, there's minimal waste and no extra labor. Meaning we've been able to keep our workspace socially distanced and our employees (and customers) as safe as possible.
As a mom of two small children, I'm especially appreciative of this model because it allows me to visualize the week ahead and prioritize my work flow, something that just isn't possible when you're open to walk-ins all week.
Another bonus? This model gives me the opportunity to engage with our customers each week, both when they pick up their items and via our newsletters. That conversation has been, hands-down, the most rewarding part of our Covid transition.
3. We changed our name
We felt a name change was in order to mark the new era of Flowers & Bread. Tricia had the wonderful idea to rename us as a Society. The thought being that we always envisioned F&B as a place where those who care about flowers, bread, and hands-on learning could gather and share in those things together. A true society devoted to the things and experiences we love.
The name change felt especially apt to me because the F&B bookclub had read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a few months earlier. In the novel, a group of unlikely resistors band together under the guise of a literary Society to support one another and fight the German Occupation. Granted, the "occupation" of 2020 was different, but the feeling resonates. In Covid times, having a society to lean on feels more important than ever.
4. We launched our membership program
This was a fun way for us to carry on our love of creating special experiences through the Covid era. We realized what Covid took away from us in those early days was something to look forward to. Our membership program was designed to bring back those happy feelings of anticipation. Included in the Membership are 3 socially-distanced, outdoor events each year, as well as a monthly newsletter full of recipes and video tutorials. Members also receive 10% off fresh flowers, so they can gift friends or themselves something beautiful throughout the year.
5. We took our floristry workshops to Zoom
I had hoped our floral experiences would transition well to zoom, and I've been so happy with how well they've done so. The platform also enables us to offer an Audit option for those who are out of state or who just want to listen in. So far it's been a fun way to "meet" floral enthusiasts from around the country.
If Covid has taught us anything, it's that everything is subject to change.
I might be back here in 6 months sharing a whole slew of new modifications. But I have to say, as hard as those initial changes were (and they were heartbreaking, for all small businesses), they way you all have embraced our changes and supported us through this time has been a gift I'll never forget it. Thank you.
And I’m curious, how has covid changed your business model? Or changed a small business you love?