It is absolutely strange and surreal to be making flowers during a pandemic... I don't usually share personal reflections on this blog, but this is quite an extraordinary time and I wanted to document how life has been. Covid19 has changed the world and turned it on its head. I could never have predicted its impact on us all.
Here in Singapore, we're currently phasing out of our "lockdown", and we're scheduled to reopen most retail stores and F&B by the end of this week.
It's been more than 70 days since the start of our "lockdown", and those 70 days has been mostly tame, with pockets of occasional anxiety. If you've seen my Mother's Day posts on Instagram, you would have witnessed a very confused and slightly frustrated side of me trying to understand new regulations regarding home-based businesses - one day it was business as usual and the next I had to stop and postpone all deliveries indefinitely. I was anxious, and stressed out, because I'm generally really bad with dealing with uncertainty, aha.
I do count myself lucky though, because working from home and working alone meant I could still make flowers, and create video content, and generally be productive, with only my deliveries being affected. Since the flowers could keep, I didn't mind stocking up on flowers, even if it means my room is incredibly messy now.
(I snapped this photo below to document all the Mother's Day orders that had to be put on hold.)
Aside from adapting to new laws, all my corporate events were cancelled, including some big bulk orders for a Mother's Day event (that I was very excited about, because it was a wonderful international brand), as well a few workshops and collaborations with a handful of other brands. If you're in a similar industry, you'll know that these big orders/ engagements are where we get the bulk of our income from. I'm sad to lose them, but I understand full well their own challenges - with the pandemic, their marketing budgets will all be slashed, and even future engagements might not be possible until the economy recovers. That worries me, truth be told, yet I'm trying to stay positive.
(This picture below is of a bulk order that was placed before the lockdown. I'm very thankful that the company did not cancel the order, they were ok with postponing the delivery date, which meant I had much more time to complete them and perfect them)
Thankfully, I still had a couple of orders here and there. Gifts for friends, birthday surprises, for once I had time, and wasn't rushing around like a headless chicken. I'm very appreciative of all my customers who were patient, and waited, and still supported me when I was panicking. These small orders made sure I had at least some form of income in May and June.
Another low point for me was the loss of motivation. I think this hit me towards the end of May, and I just felt completely uninspired and at a total loss of what to do. I did try to establish a daily routine, but I was constantly chastising myself for not "making the best use of this time" to do amazing things, to challenge myself, to be oh-so-creative. I would sit at my desk, fumble around with bits and pieces, and then give up. I gradually taught myself to accept that this was fine and that this was normal. We all have days when we're down in a funk, I decided I wasn't going to put so much pressure in pushing out new items or new instagram posts.
I read a lot. Which was a real luxury. I've always loved reading, but never had large chunks of time to just sit and devour a book. The lockdown gave me that time, and I fell in love with reading again. I've also listened to more audio books, I find it calming to have a soothing british voice narrating a story to me, while my fingers made flowers, and my mind visualized the story taking place. These stories (and sometimes music as well, especially musical soundtracks) afforded me a beautiful and magical escape from all my cares and anxieties.
Of course, with time, my motivation came back too, and I felt "alive" again crafting and designing new flowers. I received a very beautiful comment via Instagram the other day, "Ask the inspiration (from) God and always He will give you help". This is very true. I have to remind myself every day that creativity can't be planned, it comes with time, in God's perfect timing, and with lots and lots of trial and error. I wouldn't have designed these new charm peonies below if I didn't have the luxury of days and days just playing around with peony petals. It is now my new favourite bloom.
There was a point in time when I wondered if what I did mattered at all. Being a crafter in a pandemic made me feel rather, well, useless. I wasn't a doctor, or nurse, how could I help? Very thankfully, and incredibly, my friends swooped in and saved me from my on insecurities, by reminding me that flowers bring joy and light into this crazy unpredictable world. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but yes, I do believe there's a place for art and artists even in such times. Granted, we're not "essential" workers, but that doesn't make us obsolete.
Do I worry for the future of MP&B? Yes, and no. I do believe that event engagements and bulk orders will definitely be low for the rest of the year. Workshops will have to be paused until I can be confident enough of my own abilities in providing a safe space and also, valuable content.
(I've given up my current workspace below for family, I won't admit it to them, but I do miss it very much aha. I now understand the value of a large open workspace, it really makes a difference in terms of putting you in a creative mood).
I said "Yes, and no" because I believe God has already planned for this and everything that is to come (not that He brought on the virus, but I believe He is already 10 steps ahead of it, and He will protect us through it all!!). I'll wait on Him to guide me in navigating these new horizons. I've watched this baby grow for 4+ years, and I'm amazed at how far this brand has come - I truly can't imagine letting it go, not because of this pandemic.
One thing I have to say is that this time has brought my family so much closer together. Not being able to see anyone else, meant these 5 people here are not just my family now, they're my friends, my allies, my advisors, and I'm very grateful to have them with me.
So there, there it is. My thoughts and reflections on this journey. If you've read this far, I hope that it helps to read this, and it reminds you that you're not alone, and whatever emotions and ups and downs you're feeling is totally valid. :)