Getting the team back after lockdown
Lockdown has had a massive effect on millions of businesses right across the world and all along I've been fortunate to be able to work safely from my home and for this I am truly grateful - to have a business that has not only survived the lockdown but thrived during the time period has been a challenge, but one I was fully committed to facing head on.
After having to furlough my wonderful girls Michelle and Gemma I have worked alone since. I can't pretend this has always been easy as the work load has been tremendous. It is a very physical business with lots of lifting, standing, moving around and generally being on your feet for long periods of time. Of course, many jobs are just that, however, 4 years ago I had spinal surgery and those activities are not always easy for me. In all of these activities Michelle and Gemma generally assist me and literally 'take the weight off' allowing me the time to run the business, be the face of The Good Soap and be creative. My son Dan, who normally resides in Liverpool, has been locked down with me, and has helped me where he could, but he has also been working full time for the civil service and so his time has been taken up by that of course. On my own I have been making hundreds of products and wrapped and sent out hundreds of parcels to customers.
The girls first and foremost are my pals - many of you may know that Gemma is my sister and Michelle has been my best friend for most of my life. Not to forget Jan, my mum, who is our super crocheter! And so not only have I missed them for the work aspect I miss their company and the laughter and chatting that we do. So - how can I get them back?
Last Feb I had a large shed built in the garden and we worked from in there through to the end of summer. Although this worked well enough it was not ideal - if the weather got damp the soaps and the salt soaps hated it and would 'weep', if the weather was too warm the deodorants and moisturiser bars would melt! Working in there for me and the girls was often way too hot or too cold. So there was no balance. Last autumn we decided to move operations into the house for the winter and my builder dad made the spare room into an office and curing room for us and this has worked perfectly since. No melting products, no weeping products and an office next door to my bedroom - perfection!
But this will not be ideal for getting the girls back to work with me. We are not allowed members of other households inside the house and with it being my homespace cannot really be set up like some other workspaces. And so we are going to be moving back into the workshop........
To make this happen firstly the workshop needs to be made temperature friendly and so my wonderful dad, builder by trade, is going to insulate the whole shed for us in order to keep the temperature more steady, for the products as well as for the girls. I have a side gate and so he is able to come into my back garden without going in my house and he can work alone to get the job done. Normally I would supply him with endless cups of tea but he'll have to bring his own flask!
I can then move all wrapping paraphernalia and products back down to the workshop so the girls can come back to wrap parcels and do lots of the other jobs they do for me like bagging and labelling the products. There are A LOT of things to move and rearrange and so this process will take time and I'll have to close the website for a few days so I don't have orders coming through needing my time to wrap. Normally we would do this as a team but I can't have their help to do this. Dan will help me as much as he can of course. The workshop stores all of our ingredients - base oils, powders, butters, essential oils, pans, equipment, tins, soap dishes and other stock and so most of this will all need to be moved elsewhere - another logistical conundrum. Michelle and Gemma work opposite times to each other and there is never any need for them to work together in the workshop so that makes things a little easier.
In normal times Michelle makes a huge amount of the soap and products that we sell and I am still working out how will be best to do this, as the kitchen is inside my house of course. At the moment my brain is working on plans and adaptations - one of my mottos is that there is a solution to all problems, and we will work this out somehow. So I think making The Good Soap safe and practical for the team to come back will be another few weeks, my dad has ordered all materials for adapting the workshop but the builders merchants can't deliver for another 2 weeks and then the job will need to be done - but it's all in hand and I cannot wait.......