There’s nothing like a global pandemic to change life as we know it, eh? But while social distancing meant simply staying inside for many of us, small business owners were faced with a tremendous challenge: how to continue “business as usual” through highly unusual circumstances.
We chatted to Corrine Russell, owner of Heartfill, about how she adapted to not only survive, but thrive!
As a business owner, what was the biggest challenge COVID-19 threw your way?
Heartfill is essentially a tactile store where interaction with the makers & products is encouraged. We found it difficult to create the sensory experience that our store usually provides with the restrictions in place. Also, the stress of paying overheads while our doors were closed was challenging, but we were resilient & felt very supported by our community.
What was your biggest learning through it all?
We learnt that bricks and mortar stores are still very much an essential part of our Gold Coast community. Although we were grateful for our online following to increase during the lockdown period, it was so nice to hear that many people prefer to wander around our store & embrace the experience of “real life” shopping, it was reaffirming to know that the core purpose of Heartfill was even more relevant and valued. There really is a new revolution of shopping small & supporting local.
What is one way your business got creative in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!) during COVID-19?
We finally got our online shopping platform up and running which allowed us to post many of our products Australia wide. It was really exciting to find new friends over in WA, SA and all the way up & down the East Coast of Australia. We also launched our ‘at home craft kits’ as we were unable to host our favourite crafty workshops in store. Our kits have been a real hit in store & online.
How have the past few months changed your business strategy moving forward?
Moving forward we are hoping to strike the perfect balance between bricks & mortar and online shopping experiences for our customers. We are very aware that our audience now reaches beyond the Gold Coast, and we need to ensure that our customers, far and wide, can access the products and services we provide. We are really looking forward to supporting more and more local artisans and making shopping small in this big world really easy!
What does your new normal look like?
Luckily for us, we have a fairly large space where our customers can freely wander the store. Obviously we are still practicing social distancing & have increased hygiene standards storewide. We have the best smelling hand sanitiser at the front door and are more than happy to assist people online & over the phone.
We will continue to nurture the creative talents of the GC & we hope that this time has allowed lots of people to realise the importance of supporting your local makers and creators.