It took me a little while to get my head somewhat straight on this. When things suddenly changed and we were advised to socially-distance ourselves, it meant all live events were cancelled and with that my core work as I knew it disappeared. Along with my client events being called off, my calendar of public speaking and outreach was cleared too, which was a big blow because there were some fantastic experiences in there that I was really looking forward to. My energy and the momentum I had built up was faced with an indefinite void, but rather than letting it completely dishearten me, I let it propel into finding opportunities to channel my efforts elsewhere.
So with some misplaced energy, I've found immediate purpose elsewhere and I'm participating quite heavily in making sure that people in my community feel supported. I'm coordinating a small mutual aid group and the sense of belonging there is satisfying some kind of void. Personally, I'm working on striking a new kind of balance between that work and adjusting The Textile Review to this phase. I'm also making sure I nurture some solo hobbies, like drawing and macrame :D
Yes, I was on a real upward curve with the business, things were looking to get really exciting this summer with the hunt for bigger premises, new clients, new products and some really exciting engagement events. I am sad that this momentum has been interrupted. However, I don't have to let a team down, I only have myself to worry about, and a smaller rent on the studio than what could have been had I took the leap already. I'll count myself pretty lucky. There are so many ways I'll learn and adapt through and beyond this.
One big challenge I experienced when getting things going for The social enterprise was the lack of research into event supply chains and waste. There's also limited research on non-clothing textiles. It's much more difficult to communicate and market a service when the statistics aren't readily available on the issue you're trying to impact. It's also hard for teams to communicate the rationale in employing a service without hard facts. My experience has been that while I know there's a huge problem with textiles in events, and my clients witness it too, I'm in contact with a great new organisation that's addressing standardised tracking & measurement across the industry.
In the wider perspective, I'm most interested in the idea of some kind of reconfiguration toward a circular economy. My innate optimism relies on the idea of this being an opportunity for some change in the right direction. If not now then when -couldn't be more powerful a question.
To use this quiet time wisely, I intend on brushing up on my knowledge regarding all things circular economy. I still hadn't rad Kate Raworth's 'doughnut economics' and so I'll start that today!
We don't know how big a change this will make to the events industry, or indeed the textiles supply chain. We're hearing time and again to take it all one day at a time, and not to plan too much for the unknown... I believe the only way to prepare for the future is to keep in touch with each other, so we can make the aftermath as peaceful as possible. For me and The Textile Review, t's going to be so important to be keeping conversations open with my clients, and relearning where my markets stand, I encourage anyone with thoughts on the future of events to keep in touch with me, so we can reach a good harmony in the future!
The fabric shop is open for orders as normal, and I'll try to keep the delivery times down, although I'm not in the studio every day so they may be a day later than usual. I've also put together some of the more interesting textures as 'Craft Fabric Bundles' (pictured above) which are ideal for learning some sewing at home (for grownups and for kids!). I'm testing a pay-as-you-feel system on this, to make sure they're accessible to everyone while leaving room for those able to support me a little more during these tricky times!
From the bottom of my heart, I really hope all of you out there, and your loved ones, are well. This little social enterprise of mine is a space for textiles but also a space for friendship. If you are feeling lonely, I'm here for you x