As we approach the first anniversary of the start of the Coronavirus pandemic here in the UK, we have been thinking back to what life has been like these past 12 months. Everyone's experience of this pandemic will have been so different with ups and downs for each of us.
We feel strongly in the value of shared stories and experiences as a way of strengthening community and building empathy and understanding between people. One of the central roles of a coffee shop is making a space for sharing conversations and this is something we are keen to continue online while the physical space is not filled with the life as it always was (and will be again).
We are grateful for the diverse contributions from our customers and team that we are sharing in this 'Our Pandemic Year' series.
Starting a New Business
The pandemic has come with ups and downs for all but I'd say nothing for me has been inherently bad, just different.
I worked for my dad in his shop at the start of the pandemic. But with 400 people a day walking through those doors I didn't feel safe continuing to work there. He had put me in charge of a side business which he ran that I also worked in - a bouncy castle business. This at least was outside and distanced and I never felt more comfortable in a work environment. Sadly though with lockdown happening I decided it was time to stop hiring the bouncy castles out and not long afterwards events were closed by the government anyways.
Finding myself at home with time on my hands, I started to do a lot more silversmithing, something I had started up as a hobby earlier in the year. Before lockdown I started attending a silversmithing class (in January) and then managed to complete a module before we went into lockdown. I set up a bench at home to keep crafting during lockdown.
I didn't plan on my silversmithing becoming coffee based (I even bought Viking rune stamps thinking I could do more historical stuff inspired by a friend who has done museum recreations before in another material) but after playing about with a material called Silver clay I made a mould of a coffee bean and then a few more. I used to make them one at a time with the mould until my teacher told me about casting where you send your work (over to Argyle) and get it cast which made it more viable as a business (silver clay is twice the cost of silver so it wasn't very feasible early on).
Lockdown has allowed me time to start doing the silversmithing as a business. I started an online shop to sell coffee bean jewellery (Coffee Bean Culture) and the free time I have had due to lockdown gave me a head start as without it I'd have been doing this on my days off only. My business has been slowly growing and soon enough I hope I can go back to delivering bouncy castles while continuing to run it.
I want to work for myself for good. I think once you do it's hard to go back to being an employee and as much as lockdown has been tough socially, it's helped me work towards this personal goal.
There hasn't been as much financial security this year but what there has been is mental positivity and an experience of getting to take time off and see there is more to life than just working for money. There is so much to be gained from doing what you enjoy and focusing on what you want to build.
Would you like to contribute the story of your Pandemic Year? Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org