Dear Godiva shoppers, followers, fellow sustainable fashion enthusiasts, vintage lovers and those who like and dare to be different.
I wanted to write to you after reflecting on the rollercoaster of chaos of the last few weeks and as the owner of Godiva I wanted to share these with you.
On the 11th of March we had a staff meeting which was full of the future plans for the year. I had taken on a new staff member and we are all enjoying some wine, pizza and a catch up with little awareness of what the next day would bring. Despite knowing that Covid-19 would be coming our way, the actual reality of it was so unknown and unprecedented (the buzzword of this virus).
The next day the reality of the UK and the world being swallowed up by this pandemic was real, and the threat to Godiva and my livelihood was undeniable.
What the f*ck was I going to do? The panic established itself within every nook and cranny of my world. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am quick to panic but it doesn’t take long for me to tap into my entreprenerial mojo and I find strength and clairty to think out of the box to carry on. I have always been proud of this. But this has been different and has taken a lot longer for the clouds of confusion to clear. I blame getting older maybe? Five years of baby brain or the 100 bottles of wine? Or maybe it was the sudden shock and feeling of being catapulted and marooned in the unbelievable worldwide crisis which will change things as we know it potentially forever.
A day after taking the amazing Godiva team out I had no choice but to start laying-off the hard -working sales assistants and worry about how I was going to keep employing the girls that I needed to help Godiva fight on with a rapidly depleting cashflow. I have much love and admiration for the girls I had to layoff and I ensure you when this is over there will be a job for you. It was the most awful feeling.
I have now spent days asking questions like, “How do I make this work now?”, “What the hell is furlough?” Instead of, “Would you like a bag for your purchase?”
I have put irreplacable Jude, the manager and a close friend, on Furlough to protect her full-time employment, let’s just hope the government promise of help comes quickly. In the meantime I am back at the helm of Godiva! Which is exciting and yet ovewhelming siting at home with two young kids. I will be running the online shop with India who does a great job on all the social media and online. Online has never been as strong as the bricks and mortar shop but we hope to strengthen it. This is our only chance to keep Godiva going until this is over. Instead of working towards sales targets I am applying for grants, rates releif, trying to get through to switchboards and anxiously awaiting the government’s next announcment.
How do you make a plan to save a business when you don’t know what you are really fighting, and how long for? There was no good time for this virus to take over our lives and affect our businesses but for retail it couldn’t come at worse point. The end of February is always the month where cashflow is at a minimum. The shop survived the quietiest months of the year. I, like usual, paid everything made in the last quarter for this quarter to a tax bill, VAT and paid for new season collections.
The beginning of March usually brings new energy with Springtime and is the start of the financial year. URGH, AHHH and Balls to it all. I have really had to dig deep to get my head round these spinning plates, bouncing balls of Covid-19 effects to settle, as I know the whole country has had to in one way or another.
For me when I walk into the brick and motar Godiva I always feel a sense of joy and excitement knowing that it stands for something I believe in - it’s sustainable, it’s supportive of people and individuals and creates individual style. If Willy Wonka had a clothes shop Godiva might be it. It’s an explosion of colour, print, design and creativity and when I open the doors again it will be better than we were before.
This is for everyone struggling through this crisis and for small business owners, I salute you.
Don’t give up, don’t let this get the better of you. Have belief that this will create something more than you could ever have imagined. If you run a small business you run it for a reason. It’s a passion and a drive and belief in what you created. If it is not what it was when you left it, grow it again, or a better version than before or change direction all together, you did it once you can do it again.
How do you plan for this? The answer is you can’t.
I am inhaling and exhaling a deep breath and taking every day as it comes.
One of my favourite sayings is, “We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.”
And that is what I am doing with the skelton Godiva team I have left. We are going to try our hardest to bring you what you want on our online shop and social media pages. We will be running lots of different competitions, planning great content for the following months and still have lots of fantastic stock to sell. Our newest feature is the online gift cards, I highly recommend you use this feature to treat yourself or a friend, it also gives a boost to Godiva until this is over. A gift for us now and for you to spend now or later.
I ask you all now to find us online and work with us to give you what you want too.
Thank you so much for your continued support and love for Godiva. It’s been 16 years of hard work and I am determined not to let this close the doors forever. I love the bricks and motar of the shop and all the joys of the daily interactions that it brings. As it sits lifeless on the West Port I know there is still life in there and I look forward to opening the doors again and celebrating with you when this is all over.
In the meantime I will be writing blogs, shop rambling, doing features with designers and running competitions.
Keep checking in. Keep happy, healthy and stay home for now.