Our Covid-19 Journey
Just over a year on from the whole world being turned upside down, and it is safe to say it has been a tumultuous time!
But as much as there has been immense challenges to overcome, there has been just as many silver linings and learnings to be had too.
When we first learned the extent of how much COVID-19 would impact all our lives, of course we were worried how we could ensure Burrow and Be would come out the other side. And now, not only have we come out the other side, we have come out stronger with strengthened working relationships, the feedback on our first post-lockdown collection (Elemental - AW21) is amazing and we survived running a business and home schooling!
In fact, our kids got to see and be involved in the business in ways they haven’t had the opportunity to do before. Our youngest even has ideas on how she can bring her own voice and ideas into Burrow and Be in the future! Which of course I am all for encouraging and nurturing these ideas, because first and foremost Burrow and Be is a family business and I love that our kids got to witness our values and work ethic during the lockdowns.
It also gave us time and space for Antonio to be more actively involved in the collections than ever before, and to work together on building the brand. We were busy researching a number of aspects of our business that either the pandemic forced our hand with, or were parts we wanted to examine if there was a better way to do things. We were looking at our suppliers and our supply chain, and asking ourselves if they met our brand requirements still and could they still work with our volumes and did their ethics still match ours. From that time, we have chosen to work with some new suppliers and although it is a change from the familiar, we are really happy with the direction we are heading in with the changes we have made.
All of that is not to say that we didn’t have some extremely difficult decisions to make along the way. What helped us make them though was checking back in with our values and how those decisions sat with us.
We saw the struggles our stockists were going through - having a small retail business during a pandemic is beyond tough. To support them, we chose not to take on any new stockists, at least until things have settled a bit. We could have taken on at least five new stockists a week from all the enquires we received (good on you all for ‘pivoting’ and starting your own online retail businesses from home!), but we didn’t want to create any further competition for our existing stockists. Especially those with bricks and mortar stores who had to close their doors and were having to compete for online sales to get by.
And, even though we knew the financial hit we could potentially take, we chose not to cancel any of our orders with our manufacturers. We knew that here in New Zealand, we could access government support and that as a country we were taking on COVID-19 and coming out (mostly) on top, whereas that could not (and still can’t) be said for our factories internationally. They are a large part of the Burrow and Be family and we were committed to supporting our ‘factory family’ as best we could.
But, we still had to accept that we didn’t know what the world was in for, and how long this upheaval would be for, so we made the difficult call to not have a Summer collection in 2020. We had already put in so much work on this collection with our factory and it was the toughest call to not release what is a stunning and classic Burrow and Be collection, but it was the right call to hold it over to this summer coming. We used this time to add to the Collection and we think it just might be our best Summer range yet and we can’t wait for you all to finally see it! (Fingers crossed the current situation in India improves and we don’t have further delays)
Many businesses may not have chosen compassion and empathy in our position, and cancelled orders and would still be putting pressure on their factories in possibly the toughest time in their lives. Yes we are missing a whole heap of stock from our Winter 21 collection, and we don’t know if or when we will receive these. But, is it worth them putting themselves at risk? Not to us.
Our stockists and our factories are part of our Burrow and Be family, and that’s why we align ourselves with businesses that match our values and ethics. They can trust that when times get tough, we will have their backs, as any good family would.
And nothing has been tougher for small businesses than this pandemic. One year on we are still managing with the fall out. But, we are managing and so are our stockists and factories. Maybe that’s our biggest learning - by sticking together, we will all get through.