To sell or not to sell, that is the question that keeps running through my mind while navigating this pandemic marketplace. On the one extreme is the rah-rah now is the time to jump online and sell, sell, sell. Everyone is there, all eyes are on you, this is your time, take advantage of it. To the other extreme, if you’re not deemed essential and you’re not making PPE, then back the f… off. I’m somewhere in the middle.
This is all new…for everyone. We have no experience living and operating in a global pandemic and we’re all trying to find our way. As Brené Brown says in the first episode of her Unlocking Us podcast, it’s an FFT (F#%king First Time). Not only is this the motherload of FFT’s, locking down whole countries, closing borders around the world, and bringing the economy to a screeching halt, there are a million little FFT’s for us to navigate. From what do I do if a family member gets sick or injured, to how do I entertain and home school the kids all day, every day for the foreseeable future, to how do I shave my dog because he’s getting so shaggy he can no longer see.
According to BB (that’s short for Brené Brown because she’s my new best friend right now), anything we do for the very first time needs to be recognized for what it is. Name it, this is an FFT. Then we can normalize it. We’re not supposed to know what we’re doing because we’ve never done it before. We’re supposed to be feeling wobbly, uncertain, and scared. Then we have to put it into perspective and we have to do a reality check by lowering our expectations. Everything is going to take at least twice as long and it’s going to be harder than we think. Amen to that! Grocery shopping alone is taking 4 times as long.
Surviving the pandemic
I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have a brick and mortar store so I’m not continuing to pay rent while my doors are closed. I don’t have employees so I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay them or deal with layoffs. That being said, I do have ongoing monthly fixed costs, and although they’re not a lot, I still need to cover them to survive.
So, how do I and other small businesses move forward. Well, since I’ve had to cancel all my in-person sales events, I have to be creative and thoughtful in coming up with ideas to bring people to my online store. The good news is I have an online store. While other businesses are scrambling to put up a website to take orders, I already have one in place. And, I don’t need a lot of sales to get by.
Essential vs non-essential
I know that clothing seems pretty frivolous right now. It’s not essential by any means. I know many people are losing their jobs and have no income. And, I know there are many people still working. People want and need things and we can’t just pop over to the mall to get them. I think we’re starting to get a little bored and a little stir crazy. We’re looking for things to bring us comfort and joy (oops, sorry for the Christmas tidings). Perhaps we need something to brighten up our day like a package arriving on our doorstep.
One thing that helps me get my mind off my own demise is looking for ways to help others. So, as much as I can, I’m supporting and purchasing things online from local small businesses. I’m inspired by other entrepreneurs who are rising to the occasion, being resourceful, thinking outside the box, and doing good things. I’m featuring those businesses every week on social media. Then there’s the frontline businesses and their employees working double duty and putting themselves and their families at risk to keep the rest of us going. Thank you.
How to contribute?
I would like to give my clothes away for free right now but of course I can’t do that if I want to stay in business. I’d like to be making face masks but the reality is I don’t sew my clothes and my bamboo fabric is not suitable for this. I work with contractors to produce my garments and, where they can, they’re devoting their time and machines to making PPE and face masks. I can support them by stepping back and letting them do what they do best to help out.
So, what can I do? How can I contribute? Well, I have come up with an idea that will help a cause that is near and dear to my heart. For every order that comes through my online store, I will donate a headscarf or PICC line cover to cancer patients at the Ottawa General Hospital Cancer Centre. I’ve read that if COVID-19 becomes a crisis at the hospitals, then it would take priority. All hands would be on deck. Cancer patients currently receiving treatment could be put on hold. I understand the reasoning. But, it would be devastating for those living with cancer. I hope and pray it will not come to that.
I have a friend who is currently going through chemotherapy for the 2nd time. She has kindly offered to bring my headscarfs and PICC sleeves to the chemo unit when she goes in for her own treatment.
Abundance vs overwhelm
I’m also finding we’re being flooded with online offerings right now, free and otherwise. I get it. I understand. We’re all wanting to help and survive at the same time. We’re pivoting and trying different things. At the same time, it can be too much. Meditation, yoga, and other activities to help calm and reduce anxiety are everywhere which is having the opposite effect on me. I’m doing my best to think of it all as abundance instead of overwhelm.
So, for me and my business, I’m trying to keep things status quo. I’m sticking to my social media schedule I had in place before all this craziness began. I’ll continue with my once a week blog post. And I will let you know what I have to offer and when. My message is I’m here, I’m open, I can deliver to your doorstep, and I thank you for being a customer.
How can you help?
Here are some ways you can support me:
- You can pre-order my new Carolyn reversible sundress at 10% off. It will be delivered once production can safely start back up.
- You can order any COKANNA styles I have in stock and I will deliver to your doorstep. Some items are a final sale at $25.
- Join my COKANNA Virtual Coffee Shop on Facebook.
- If you’re already a customer, you can write a review and send to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will use it on social media and post on my website.
- Pass on my emails and blog posts to family and friends who might be interested.
- You can like, comment, and share my social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- Connect with me via email and social media. Hearing from you brings a smile to my face, makes my day, and encourages me to keep going.
I wish you good health, peace of mind, cherished family time, social connection at a distance, and lots of love and virtual hugs.
Until next week,
Colleen Kanna is a recovering Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer.
She is the creator of COKANNA Canadian made bamboo clothing for women that’s all about comfort and style.
Colleen supports Rethink Breast Cancer’s metastatic breast cancer support, education, and advocacy work.