As we enter another month in lockdown, fears continue to grow on how our economy will look after COVID19.
As numerous people and businesses try to stay afloat, continuing to diversify during this uncertain time, the survival is likened to animals around a watering hole. It’s everyone for themselves.
But with so much uncertainty, can we survive?
Can we survive?
If you’d have asked that question to small business owner, Charmaine Murray, at the start of this year, she’d have beamed with hope.
Owner of Sueno Boutique in Amersham, Murray set up her independent womenswear shop in 2018, much to her friends and families concerns.
Escaping the big city to follow her dreams, Murray left a coveted position as a top Advertising Executive, in one of London’s most prestigious agencies.
Leaping into the unknown, she poured her heart and soul into the new project, an idea that she had deliberated over her whole life.
Determined to empower women, Murray wanted a brand that catered to the successful city worker, the mum who still wanted to feel human and the women that were doing it for themselves.
What once felt like a direction that wasn’t a “proper career,” became an overnight reality.
“Deep down it was always something I’d wanted to do; I’d loved fashion and the idea of being independent and running my own business.”
Swapping brands like TalkTalk, Argos and The Prince’s Trust, Murray immersed herself in rails, clothing and how to make her boutique a success.
“I’d handed in my notice and wanted to take some time out from the corporate world. Before I knew it, I’d bought a Retail for Dummies book, developed a business plan and viewed my first commercial property.”
Making huge changes, Murray left the London life that she had loved. Knowing there would be further sacrifices along the way, she embarked on a successful first 18 months, living her dream.
“I’m not going to lie; it hasn’t been easy. It’s taken a lot of hard work, determination and self-motivation. The retail sector has been in turmoil in recent years, but I was determined to make it work, I thought, if I could get through the unsettling and uncertain period of Brexit, things would start to get a bit easier.”
“Nothing could have prepared us”
However, following an outbreak in China, the ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus reached the UK in late January 2020.
Spreading across the country, COVID19 has taken multiple lives, businesses and its place in history.
“Never in a million years did I envisage this when I was writing my business plan. Nothing could have prepared us.”
Sadly, due to the outbreak, Murray, like so many other businesses around the country, had to temporarily close the doors on her dream.
“It’s brought it to a grinding halt. One minute I was preparing my merchandise for the new Spring collection the next minute I was putting a closed sign on the door, not knowing when or if I’d be opening again.”
However, determined not to throw her business and hard work away, like many businesses Murray made changes.
“Thankfully I’ve got a website. I’ve offered free delivery and same day delivery in close proximity.
“I guess you could say that I’ve adapted, but there really wasn’t another choice.
“I’ve tried to use this time as effectively as I can, doing all of the things I’ve been meaning to do for my business.
“Where I can I’ve worked with suppliers and altered my upcoming collections for high Summer. With weddings, christenings, races and holidays cancelled there really is no need for people to buy that new dress for a special occasion or new beach dress for their trip to the sunshine.”
Refusing to give up
Refusing to give up, Murray continued to trade online and see this through.
“Am I worried for the future? Absolutely. I’m a planner and this is the first time in my career where I’ve had to tear up my plan and start again.
“I’m taking each day and week as it comes. Not knowing when I can open again and how trading is going to be affected in a post-COVID19 world is terrifying.”
With death rates slowly decreasing and countries around the world starting to loosen lockdown restrictions, Murray claims that businesses can survive if we continue to support each other.
“We have to adapt, be nimble and be creative. We are all in this together.
“Small businesses need to think out of the box and listen to our customers and what they want.
“Now more than ever we need to be brave, be determined, work hard and don’t give up.
“I’ve had this dream all my life, I intend to follow it. Otherwise I’ll always regret it.
“Hopefully I’ll be raising a glass with my friends and family soon, celebrating that we all made it through safe and healthy.”