Can we take a minute to talk about how wild 2020 has been? We're just six months in and the whole world has changed. With that has come new challenges for small businesses like us. Now that things opening up, we've been thinking about our journey in this new "normal" so far and thought we should focus this week's blog on how we've been keeping up with Miss Rona.
At City Inspired, we're interesting in not only providing you with products from Black creatives but also highlighting their stories as well. We think the best way to do that is to meet with our vendors face to face. We spent a lot of time going out to markets, stores and meeting with vendors to learn more about their journeys. And it worked! Many of the vendors we found were ones that we had met in outdoor settings. With the start of COVID-19, that quickly changed.
We moved all our interviews with vendors online via Skype, Zoom and email. We also moved our product search online. And there were plenty of markets that moved to online spaces. We loved attending virtual markets such as Crafty North Londoner and Open Market. Each week, Crafty North Londoner features businesses in their Instagram stories and you can shift through Instagram pages to find products of interest. Open Market is hosted on Zoom - you can interact directly with the vendors behind your favourite products.
Shipping was a major issue for us, especially during the first few months of the pandemic. Post offices were running on limited hours and many in our area ended up closing. It was also difficult for vendors to send through their products, causing delays on all ends. Our immediate solution was to delay the shipment of our Spring Box. We wanted to ensure that our vendors were safe and that we could safely deliver boxes to you.
Moving forward, we are designating Tuesday and Friday as our shipping days to minimise how often we need to go the post office. Additionally, we wrap all our boxes using gloves to ensure that the products are delivered safely. We do advice all customers to take care - so take necessary precautions when opening your packages. Keep washing those hands!
How do we build communities online via our audience and other vendors? We found an outpouring of support during this time, amplified by the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. There are Facebook groups, that started in the past month, specifically focused on Black businesses. There are Instagram pages highlighting Black businesses in all industries and more broadly small business owners in the UK. We're also incredibly thankfully for our City Inspired fam, showing up and shouting us out whenever you can. We couldn't have done it without you!
Things with Covid-19 will continue to change and we at City Inspired are constantly assessing the situation. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about how we're handling Covid-19, what measures we're implementing and how we plan to keep our fam safe. Our DMs are always open :)