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Life in Lockdown for a small Slow Fashion business.

So here we all are, muddling through another lockdown in our own little bubbles, wearing all the jumpers to avoid putting the heating on and procrastinating with too many coffee and snack breaks.

We all have our own stresses to deal with through the pandemic, but as a one-woman business still in the relatively early stages of being full time self-employed, this third lockdown really hit me hard emotionally when it was announced at the beginning of the year. Some days it can be hard to see the positives, but one of my friends recommended writing down the daily things that I have done, to help end each day feeling like I've achieved something.

Ticking off that daily list of achievements has kept me positive at the end of each day, so I wanted to share what I have been up to with my small business over the past 6 weeks and what you can look forward to seeing from Collect Me in the future.

Flatlay of a handmade cocoon coat in grey and red check and a patch pocket.
A completed Cocoon Coat in grey and red check.

Getting Creative

After ending the Christmas period with the emotional punch of going back into another lockdown, I eased myself back into work without putting too much pressure on myself to 'achieve' big things every day. I've been known over the last 18 months to really give myself strict to-do lists and plan every day to the last stitch. This inevitably ends some days in me not completing what I wanted to, feeling a bit of a failure and sitting on the sofa in a huff.

The beginning of January started with me getting creative with some fun makes. The sad reality of having all my stockists closed meant that I'd lost the pressure of needing to produce my handmade clothing for them, but it also meant I'd lost the focus that it gives me.

Instead I decided to make the most of it and I started each day with what I felt like doing, rather than what I felt I should be doing. I got some real enjoyment out of making some beautiful jackets and coats that I'm super proud of, using up some lovely bits of fabric that I'd been holding onto for a while but hadn't known what to use them for, which is so

Made to Order denim playsuit with contrasting straps on a mannequin.
Made to Order denim playsuit coming together.

satisfying. Coats and jackets need a real investment of time so it was fulfilling to be able to use this time for something that can feel a bit daunting to do at other times of the year.

I also had a wonderful Made to Order commission from a regular customer to keep me busy - creating a denim version of one of my discontinued playsuit designs. The first hurdle was dredging out of my brain how to even make the thing; a couple of years had passed since I'd last made one and I've now learnt that it's probably a good idea to keep a few make notes for my future hazy-brained self when I'm designing. Once I got myself back in the swing of how to make it, the end result is so great that I'm now considering bringing the design back out of retirement.

Diving into the website

As a retail girl my focus has always been to find and work with wonderful bricks-and-mortar independent shops - the minefield of SEO and trying to sell online is really not my

forte. But here I am with time on my hands and all the shops shut, so I've had to dive into improving my website. Working on websites can really hoover up time and can be a bit of an endless rabbit hole - the more you work on it and read helpful blogs, the longer your tweak list becomes!

Shooting a flatlay image of a gingham pair of trousers.
Shooting flatlay images for my website.

If you have a website as a small business, I thoroughly recommending heading straight over to the Studio Cotton blog and dedicating a bit of time reading through Aime's incredibly helpful tips. After spending the best part of two weeks sat at my computer getting cold fingers and a numb bum, my website is now looking a lot more coherent and easier to use thanks to her amazing blog.

What's Next

So we're now 6 weeks into the lockdown and the murmurs of when it will be eased are beginning to mull about. Even though that may still be a few weeks away, it does start to put a kind of deadline on this period of the year. I've been starting to look forward to what the rest of the year could look like, plus put structure to things that could be achieved in the forced home time that is left.

Something that I have wanted to plan in for my business for a while is workshops and I definitely want to start putting the first ideas together whilst I've got clear headspace. Workshops are another way to get myself out in front of real people, rather than having to deal with my nemesis of websites and social media but I'm ok with that - we might as well play to our strengths and do the things we love, right?

These little projects I've been working on over the past few weeks have kept me bobbing along until the real world opens back up again. Because that's sort of what it feels like isn't it? We're just muddling through these blurry days until our real lives can get going again - but I definitely have to remember that things can still be achieved and if I can get this little slow fashion brand through this period then I can do anything.

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Find out more about Collect Me and how my sustainable clothing brand was started.


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