The roller coaster that was surviving COVID19

5 June 2020

First hearing about COVID19 it was something that was happening on the other side of the world, we didn’t have to worry about it.

Then it started to get serious, our government started talking about having to close things down, keep our kids home from school, isolate. From a personal perspective the thought of slowing down a little was not unappealing, I will admit the break from the daily grind sounded pretty good.

Business wise the feelings were the total opposite…..panic set in, I could see everything I had worked for and dreamt of over the last six years begin to come crashing down around me, and the worst part was I had no control whatsoever over any of it. None of this was my doing, and this could mean the end of my beautiful little studio.

As you would have seen following my socials, I did eventually get through the funk…..but it took me about a week, I really had to pick myself up, brush it off, and make the conscious decision to KEEP GOING. I had to cancel every single one of my classes, ring people who had booked to tell them their class was no longer going to be running, refund customers, and cancel the school holiday activities. It was not easy, it still isn’t, so many things were going to have to change for me to reopen, was I going to be able to reopen? Even as I write this, I get emotional.

Creative Makes Kits

So what was I going to do, what could I possibly do to keep my little dream ticking along instead of letting it fizzle out? I knew I wasn’t ready to give up, so I went through my lists, I looked at all of the things that I had noted down as ideas, and dreams, that were long term goals for ‘when I had more time’.

At the top of the lists were kits, so I madly went through my supplies. What could I make into kits, because parents were definitely looking for things for their kids to do at home. I designed the kits around supplies that I already had on hand. I recorded videos and tutorials to go along with the kits, I spent hours putting the kits together, with the help of my amazing family a friends, packing them one by one, writing instructions and hoping that they would present well enough in the little time I had to put them together.

Feathers for Phoebe Mini Makers online class

I created online classes. We moved Mini Makers online. I contacted Jade Lees-Pavey about putting something together for the adults, and Creative Makes Art Connections was born. I created the ultimate kit for Micro Makers.

I stocked up on retail items, I opened an online shop, it wasn’t the prettiest or most polished online shop (it still isn’t), but it achieved the goal of making stock and kits available to customers even though they couldn’t come into the studio.

Then I hit a roadblock. I realised that my suppliers were starting to run out of stock. Art and Craft supplies were now a HOT ITEM, and I had missed out. I had either been too slow, or I didn’t have the money to buy the quantities that the larger businesses could to maintain stock levels. Heck, even the big guns like Kmart had run out, people were hoarding washi tape, the zombie apocalypse of paint was REAL, and don’t even talk to me about chalk!!!! You couldn’t get any craft supplies ANYWHERE.

What now?!

I went back to my list…..and way down the bottom of the list was ‘write a book about process art’

Now this was one of those things that you put on a list knowing that it was going to happen WAY down the line, I didn’t have the resources to publish a book, I only opened the studio in Jan 2019, I wasn’t going to have time to write a book any time soon……Well hadn’t things changed! I now had nothing BUT time! Yes, I was doing home learning with my kids, but compared to what life was like before I was SWIMMING in time! No driving my kids to after school activities, no playdates for the grownups OR the kids, no bushwalking, no weekend café coffees and cake, and no teaching classes.

I decided that I would give it a go, I was going to write a book, why not?!

Process Art

Ultimately, I think that writing Process Art For Micro Makers was healing. It reminded and reinforced for me WHY I am doing what I’m doing. Why the studio started. Why I love what I do, and why it is worth fighting for. It reignited my passion. It showed me that although the mountain had at first seemed insurmountable, with slow steps, putting one foot in front of the other I could achieve the end goal. It also showed me how much knowledge I have, how many activities I have floating around in my brain, and how much I still want to share that with people.

It was time consuming…INCREDIBLY time consuming…hats off to authors who write book after book, not to mention editors, illustrators and designers. But collecting the knowledge I had gained over the years from my mentors, trial and error, and experience and putting it down on paper was AMAZING!!

Of course, I was not in a position to be able to publish it as an actual book, that will still be way down the line, as the recovery from COVID closures is going to take time. In the meantime, I have released Process Art For Micro Makers as an eBook, and made it available for download on the website. I have also printed one for myself at Officeworks (you can do that here), because like many people I like to have an actual book in my hands to browse and turn the pages, its all part of the experience, and I wanted something tangible to show for all of the work, time and passion I poured into it.

Now we are able to reopen. We all have to socially distance, I will be cleaning almost as much as running classes, we won’t be able to do the sensory activities that the children absolutely adore because the kids can’t all be putting their hands in the same bucket of goop… SUCKS, but that is the new reality, and I tend to try and look on the bright side of things where I can. I have missed everyone SO MUCH, and I can’t wait to see people in the studio again! We have started booking adult classes, I’m in the process of planning for school holiday workshops, and taking expressions of interest for our Mini and Micro classes for term three.

Restocked shelves

Over the next few months as we slowly start to see things reopen, I will try now more than ever to buy and support local. I know that just because businesses are reopening now, that doesn’t mean they have survived the closures, it’s the support they will get over the coming months that will be the deciding factor, many businesses will not survive, and things will never look exactly the same as they did before.

Covid19, I know I am sick of thinking about it, but unfortunately, I know that it is here to stay, at least for now. If there is one thing I have learnt from all of this, it’s that the Creative Makes studio needs the community that has been built around it. I couldn’t have made it through the last couple of months, and won’t make it through the next few months, without the support of our little community. So THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

I’ll see you in the studio soon!

Mel xox