Where have we been?
March 1, 2021 good Lord where have we been for the last year? Lots to talk about so I'll dive right in. As everyone in the world knows today marks the start of the 12th month we have been living with in Covid -19 restrictions. I'm not going to talk much about what that has meant for us as I know everyone has stories to tell about this time period and we would love to hear about them so feel free to drop us a line at the end of this blog! I want to focus more on how our business has been surviving and actually thriving during this very challenging time. So sit back relax and enjoy reading about ride we've been taking for the last year.
We are both working full-time jobs that we have been at for many years still working BigBear nights and weekends. Business is going great, we had done the Hartford Garden Show in Hartford, Ct in February. We had the best show we have ever had and left there with large orders including several fire pit globes. We are on top of the world feeling like this year was finally going to be the one that allowed Ernie to get done his job and work BigBear full-time. We are talking to people about designs, we have finally found a company that can keep up with our demand for ends to make our globes in a timely manor without breaking the bank to do so. This company has also allowed us to keep up-cycling the ends instead of them going to the landfill which is a huge plus for us... but more on that in a different blog.
Friday March 13th everyone around the world starts buzzing and ultimately things shut down for everything except essential workers. Kati is not essential so she's home where as Ernie is still considered essential. See the irony in that.. the main worker or at least the one that can lift the heavier stuff is still working full time. Anyhow, Ernie's schedule changed to where he was working three days a week 12 hours a day. We embraced the changes as it was allowing us to do our business together four full days a week. Something we'd never had before. We were able to focus on single projects for long time periods and pieces were being finished in almost half the time they normally were. Working normal business hours, what a new concept for us.
By the middle of April we were finishing up Fite Pit Globes (like the photo to the left) and sending them off to their forever homes. We have so many designs going and communications with people happening it is keeping us from feeling the total effect of Covid. We don't want to boast but our business is thriving during this first month of everyone, except essential workers, being home. Financially BigBear is doing the best it has every done this time of year. We are starting to hear from shows we have booked for later in the Spring and early Summer. They are not going to happen. The idea of no summer shows is taking a mental tole on us. We market our business big time by meeting people in person. Might be time to rethink how that happens, but not fully. There are still late summer and fall shows to come and honestly that's our busy season anyways. For now we are going to continue to fill those orders that we got during our fantastic February show. If you ever want to visit us there you can find more information about it at Connecticut Flower and Garden Show (ctflowershow.com).
May and June are pretty busy for us. We work on finishing up a few order that we have received after our Spring show, but things are definitely starting to slow down. We are having a mental hard time because in 2019 we decided that for Ernie's birthday (which is in June) he would be working for BigBear full-time not knowing that Covid would be here. But here it is and Ernie has to stay where he is because this crazy virus has made plans for everyone change and become delayed.
Pushing forward to complete orders, we are blessed with orders to fill in our blank period. We built a few hand railings (pictures under our gallery) as well as lots of small wall hangings and a few fire pits.
Have we mentioned how blessed we feel to be more than half way through the year and still be in business. Not only just in business surviving but growing. There were plenty of times we wanted to become upset that things hadn't opened back up or that life wasn't "normal" again but when we stopped to think about all we had at the moment life wasn't that bad after all.
With clear sites set on Ernie leaving his place of employment after 25 years at the beginning of September we have a new goal to accomplish. That goal is, how are we going to build business and keep orders coming in now that all the shows for 2020 are shut down? Not only are they for 2020 but we have heard shows are starting to cancel for the 2021 season. Things are looking pretty dark on the front of us being able to meet new people and have in person sales. We have never had to be a business that sells 100% of our products online and we aren't really thinking a pandemic is the time to learn how.
Quitters we are not, so off we go learning how to connect with people in other ways. Using a vast majority of the social media platforms we start to make our presence more known to the world. While we navigate the online world of social medias Ernie's last day of works comes closer and orders start to pick up again in a large way. We all of the sudden have Globe orders, a pit order along with lots and lots of small wall hanging items that need to be designed and cut. We are reassured by the sudden influx of orders that we have in fact made the right decision, even in the middle of the pandemic.
September is finally here and Ernie is officially 100% self employed. The day we have dreamed about for so many years. We will be honest it was a little harder transition than anyone thought. We went from working 80 hours a week between two jobs to working just one job and not having to commit to nights and weekends. Ernie was now set with the task of how to fill his days not feeling rushed with every project, and being able to take his time to focus on his dream was a new concept to us all!
We have spent the last 6 month navigating Ernie being home, with a pandemic still in place. We have always been committed to making our clients come first and that commitment is still just as strong today as it was a year ago. We have designed orders for our clients, met with them as they have felt comfortable and delivered every finished product to their homes just like we would have if Covid had never been part of our lives. We focus on keeping ourselves healthy so we can keep our clients healthy should be meet with them in person.
We have learned through the last 12 months that we haven't been in business for the last 21 years by giving up easily. We have built a client basis that has allowed us to thrive through the hardest period of our entire lives. We are here to stay, for everyone whom we have ever met and said they needed to save up for their customized Fire pit Globe, keep saving because we aren't going anywhere. We have always told you that when you are ready we will be here to make it for you and we meant it!
Ernie & Kati