Do They Know It’s Christmas?

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A guest blog from Victoria of The Motherhood Society

Small businesses are feeling the pinch this Christmas.

2020 has not been the year that any of us planned. Covid-19 has caused disruption to all our lives in a huge number of ways. Isolation, money worries, illness, anxiety - the effects are all encompassing.

For small businesses, there are economic repercussions too. Many shops who couldn’t move online, have been forced to close over lockdown and others have had issues with suppliers and delivery services. Lots of small businesses fall between the cracks when it comes to the Government’s financial support too. According to a Simply Business report, 234,000 small businesses have already stopped trading. However, it’s not all doom and gloom! The report also suggests that a whole wave of new businesses have emerged this year. Lots of people who have been furloughed have decided to turn their creative hobbies into online businesses.

COVID-19 is also forcing existing companies to adapt quickly to change and redesign their products or services or even create new ones to respond to the demands of millions of people self-isolating around the world. Many small businesses have pivoted to include new products for the “new normal”.

So, as customers, can how we help small, local businesses survive 2020? And how on earth can we get our Christmas shopping done?!

At the Motherhood Society we haven’t been able to host events in person since our Spring Plant Swap back in April. We’re really missing our community, but have managed to continue to interact online with virtual events and social media discussions. Although it’s definitely not the same, we hope we’ve still been able to offer support to local mums. We’ve also been getting creative and have designed some new products for our online shop. Our Self-care Cards aim to bring you a little bit of self-love and positivity in the post while we can’t run Self-care Sessions.

It’s obviously not only our events that aren’t able to go ahead this year. Christmas markets all over the world have been cancelled. Markets not only provide a great opportunity for small makers to sell their work, but they are a great place for customers to find unique and thoughtful gifts. With markets cancelled and shops closed, small businesses are really struggling.

We have been working with Amy Jackson, owner of furniture and homeware company Piece by Jackson and Victoria Seyforth of Baby Prints Cheltenham to create a virtual Christmas Market to allow sellers and customers to come together from the comfort of their own homes.

The Utterly Indie Christmas Market is an online market featuring 21 small and local businesses with a huge range of products on offer. You can find all of the stallholders in the marketplace on motherhoodsociety.co.uk and on Sunday 22nd November 10:00 - 15:00 every shop will have a chance to takeover The Motherhood Society instagram to show their stall, answer questions and share special discounts.

As we mentioned before, new companies have been popping up this year despite the pandemic. In fact, more than one of the businesses involved in the Utterly Indie Christmas Market have actually opened as a result of the Covid situation. Katie from Little Wild Co decided not to return to work after having her baby and her mum Jenny began painting to help tackle the isolation of lockdown. Together they have started a company creating beautiful organic and eco-friendly baby products featuring Jenny’s hand-painted designs. A donation from every purchase also goes directly to support projects in Cambodia, India, Kenya and Uganda. Like a lot of us, Katie felt that this year more than ever we should all be doing as much as we can to help one other.

We’re also welcoming another brand new business, Aura and Sage, who specialise in soy wax melts, hand-crafted smudge sticks and bathing accessories. With lockdown being enforced the week before they’d planned to launch they have found it really difficult to source ingredients and create stock when they can't get together in the kitchen together. Also, of course, most people have less disposable income this Christmas, so brands that specialise in luxuries rather than necessities are certainly struggling to make sales. With Amazon often offering cheaper alternatives, we hope that customers can justify spending their pennies with local craftspeople instead.

Money is tight across the board and some companies have had to completely change their business model to pay the bills. Victoria, owner of Baby Prints Cheltenham ordinarily creates beautiful keepsake prints of tiny hands and feet, but she hasn’t been able to work at all during lockdowns. She has had to diversify, creating an incredible nature print series and is turning all her fingerprint workshops into postal kits and online masterclasses.

Florist Lynne Jessett makes most of her money creating beautiful floral displays for weddings. According to hitched.co.uk, 71% of weddings have been postponed until 2021 and 2022 and as a result Lynne hasn’t taken a wage since March. Christmas Wreath Workshops were the first sign of hope, but Lockdown 2.0 has made those impossible too. Lynne has had to adapt and take her business online. As well as ordering a ready-made wreath online, you can now order a wreath-making kit containing all the fabulous foliage you need for your own at home workshop. Lynne has had an instructional video made, guiding you step by step through creating your own festive wreath. If you order during the Utterly Indie Christmas Market you’ll also receive a Neal’s Yard hand cream from Heather Weyman, another of our lovely stallholders. This year is definitely about community over competition and it has been so lovely to see the businesses collaborating.

We really hope that you’ll join us next weekend to support some incredible local makers. Even tiny purchases can make a real difference. So, avoid the queues, shop mask-free and don’t worry about finding a parking space while you shop from your sofa.

To find all the small business taking part, head to motherhoodsociety.co.uk and make sure you keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram on Sunday 22nd November 10:00-15:00 for amazing deals and discounts on unique and thoughtful Christmas gifts.

Thank you for supporting small and helping our amazing local businesses through.

The Motherhood Society

The Motherhood Society aim to provide a welcoming community where you can find solidarity and support. Peer support is a valid and vital part of protecting maternal mental health. From experience, as a woman navigating motherhood, it helps to have someone to discuss the route with

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