isolation gowns, handmade 2020

how 2020 changed my business + outlook

This has been quite a year, welcome 2021. As I reflect back on 2020 and what my goals were, I can only try to reset goals for this new year.

I redesigned my website, set out to increase product, designed a new denim skirt to launch in the spring and to do more high end artisan shows.

January and February went according to my plan. March came in and brought with it talk of a global pandemic? What did that mean? Global pandemic.

My first show was to be March 23rd in Morristown NJ. On March 16th, the US decided to take a 2 week shut down where everyone would shelter in place, only essential workers and businesses would be allowed to stay open. How bad could 2 weeks be?

Two weeks turned into 3, 4, 5… and then into months. Shows in April were canceled, may shows were canceled, June shows postponed til September. Summer would bring hope if we could just make til then.

During the third week of March when PPE was no where to be found, I decided to jump in and start making masks as the hospitals didn’t have enough. I used all the scrap cotton fabric I had including designers like Lily P, Hillfinger and more. Elastic ran out, I reached out on social media for friends to look in their sewing bins. My mailbox overflowed with fabrics and elastic.

I donated masks to hospitals, homeless shelters, nurses, friends, family. Then I was getting requests for surgical caps, so I began making those too. I had businesses who needed masks as fast as I could sew. I had to tell them they couldn’t care what they looked like, fabric was impossible to get.

 Elastic ran out, I started using tee shirts strips for ties. The orders kept coming and I was only one person! Next I was contacted by nurses who were given one isolation gown for 14 shifts, yuck. So I found a pattern, printed out, all 39 pages and taped it together. Next I needed 5 yds of fabric, again hard to find and not the patterns you would want. But I made 5 gowns!

It is unreal what you can do when put in a crisis situation. Next, I began selling facemasks on my Etsy page. It exploded. I was shipping masks across the country. I was selling surgical caps on Etsy too. One mother called me from Boston, she needed surgical caps and masks for her daughter so she could feel safe at her job. I got them there!

Helping and feeling needed got me through the first few months. Now it was summer, it was supposed to calm down. Nope. We were still in crisis as a country, no vacations and no art shows.

I began to get back into my sewing for my business, still helping if anyone asked but trying to start selling my wears again. End of September I had a 3 hour outdoor socially distanced show at the shore. It went really well. A little taste of normal. My next show was the middle of October, outside, socially distanced and again it was great. People really loved my wears.

Now it was too cold outside and all my holiday shows were canceled.

I have a local artisan co-op where I sell my wears, so I volunteered to work one day a week so they could be open. What a delight it was to see people, even if only 1 or 2 at a time. This little shop was doing so well. People were shopping local and supporting our small businesses. The holiday season was wonderful in this shop.

I didn’t do nearly an eighth of my normal business but I was able to do some and look at what I really wanted to focus on.

So onward to 2021. Again I am redesigning my website to be able to sell more online than ever before. Who knows when life will be somewhat normal again? I have moved out of my dining room and am getting my first studio space!

Here we go 2021, can’t wait to see where this goes!

Back to blog