How does a crazy extrovert Dress Designer cope with a Pandemic?

Not a question I thought I’d ever have to ask myself??

Bexbrides is my passion and fills at least 80% of my waking hours, so to suddenly have it thrown up in the air and feel like someone locked the door and threw away the key has been a totally bewildering and terrifying experience.

I’ve been through all the same stages as every other business owner, and let’s face it, human being.

They (the powers that be, the YouTubers, the life coaches, the psychologists etc) tell us that dealing with a pandemic is like the stages of grief.

SHOCK & DENIAL

PAIN & GUILT- …

ANGER & BARGAINING- …

“DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS- …

THE UPWARD TURN- …

RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH- …

ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-

In my life I’ve had my share of loss, I lost my beautiful only sister when she was 21 , she was a Firefighter killed on duty.

So these stages are no strangers to me, but it took some reconciliation to apply them to what was happening around me.

Also unlike bereavement, when you feel it’s a very individual thing, and that only you and your immediate family are affected, yet the rest of the world still keeps turning.

This is different, we are all in it together.

It’s been a total roller coaster for me and my business.

Way back in mid January ( what feels like about a decade ago , but was only 3 months ) I started to have to juggle things a little, as fabric and trim orders were delayed, because China had this thing called Corona. It all seemed very far away, and a minor inconvenience.

Then as the death numbers were coming out (which we all know know were massively ramped down by at least a factor of 10 to 20) it seemed a bit worrisome.

Then news of its spreading to Italy and to the UK.

Still we were not unduly alarmed.

We are after all the nation whose every household has a wall sign or a mug or a T shirt that says

“KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”…

Then early March it all got a bit more real, but only for weak old people with pre-existing conditions, right?

I remember vividly being on a photo shoot on the 10th March, a glorious day with amazing suppliers, creating awesome images and content for all our marketing. That night , I didn’t sleep well, and the next day I rang my parents to advise them to self isolate, I anticipated an argument, but no, they had already decided the day before to do it.

OMG, this is a bit scary, I don’t want to lose my parents!

Then the news, more news and partial lockdown, so my staff Marie and I we started making playlists of 80s songs to keep us sane, because, well, that’s what women in their late 40s do right? The songs of the 80s were written for this!

Then slowly inexorably the shut down unfolded, before our unbelieving eyes and ears.

In a matter of a couple of days I went from dealing with planning my brides fittings to be brought forward to enable me to be well ahead with my workload in case I became ill, so no bride would be let down. To dealing with weddings guest numbers being restricted to 100, to 50, to 2 to zero.

No weddings , my clients big days, all those hopes ,dreams, hours of planning, excitement, Pinterest boards galore all disappearing like bubbles being popped, or stars in the night going out.

It seemed unreal, brides brought weddings forward only to find out the night before in the hotel with family and friends that the wedding the next day was cancelled.

I can not describe the emotions I felt for my brides, you build such a relationship with them for up to 2 years over emails, messages, consultations and fittings.

Normally we laugh, joke, cry, in addition to the obvious dress design journey and making then all feel fecking damn amazing on their big day.

I also offer support over things like arguments over table plans, awkward bridesmaids, cake flavors , who to use for your photos, which venues are awesome, anecdotes to sooth nerves and worries.

I’m good at that, I’m patient, easy to talk to, apparently very funnyπŸ€ͺ and an all round nice person so I’m regularly told😍.

But this, this I’m not prepared for this.
Weddings being basically removed from human life.

WTAF!

How the hell do I deal with this, my inbox every day, was (and still is) brides whose weddings were on hold, postponed, cancelled or just generally we have no idea if we can get married.

I had brides who had already lost weddings in the Thomas Cook crash, who lost them for a 2nd time😒😒😒

I felt like I was on runaway train with no driver, no brakes, and who knew where the track was even going.

My brain was in 2 halves, two plates wildly spinning, one half worrying that my parents would catch Corona, that at some point during this hideous nightmare had morphed into the much more nasty, yet impersonal sounding Covid 19, that my children or husband would catch it.

That some one I loved, or knew would die, that I might die!

The other half worrying about my brides, and their long hoped for dreams and expectations.

Then the worry about my business, my passion and would I lose my business, 11 years of blood sweat and tears ( and the guilt I felt worrying about money and material things at this time absolutely tore me apart from inside)

One night I stayed awake the whole night rehearsing what to say to my employed member of staff Marie, who is also one of my best friends, I feared I would have to lay her off.

The next day I spoke to my accountant to tell him who says WAIT there might be help coming from the government.

So instead Marie and I had a candid conversation about what we could do to protect our future.

Then we had to make the plans to close the studio until further notice.
It all seemed so unreal, I only close once a year at Christmas, and that takes some planning, this was so rushed.

It felt very odd.

Add to that the other half of my brain looking after my husband who had frantically been making GCSE learning packs for his pupils for 2 weeks, then suddenly I have to tell my 15 year old daughter, that she is leaving school in 48 hours, no GCSEs will be sat ( husband scrap all those 2 weeks work of books you made..) the prom dress you picked up 2 days ago will never be worn.

The whole thing was just insane.

I could not cope.
I can not cope.
I will not cope.

A few years ago I had a nervous breakdown , the final acceptance of my sisters death and work overload amongst other things, I had an amazing psychotherapist, she helped me fix myself, and after 2 years she read me a short book called the Tree who survived the winter.

She taught me I was the tree who survived the winter.

So I got out my mental tools, and made the executive decision that my business could live without me being there for 80% of my waking hours, I set aside time to speak to and reassure brides, I put monetary plans in place to throw Bexbrides Ltd a life raft should she need it, but I left her doggy paddling and floating adrift a sea of uncertainty, I love the sea, it’s my favourite place, but you can’t tame it you have to go with the ebb and flow.

So Bex the human, not Bex the Bexbrides Designer, took up a new pastime for 3 weeks, she became the keeper of her sanity, she walked, she read, she gardened. She painted her gates, her sheds, her fence, next doors fence.

She filled holes in the outside walls, she painted the outside walls.
She cycled, she walked some more.

She spent time with her husband and children. She cooked tea every night ( normally only does this once a week as she works til 8/9pmn normally)

She learnt how to use Google hangout and Zoom to keep In touch with family and industry colleagues.

She learnt to be patient, shop only when she really needed to, to queue , 2 metres apart , she found a quiet place in her heart and head that she had nearly forgotten existed.

She still keep a check on Bexbrides LTD see if it was still floating, kept in touch with all her clients, drew up a strategy to ensure going forward all brides still received the same level of care and attention that Bexbrides LTD was famous for, whilst devising an empathetic and understanding way to still manage the work and cashflow for her clients.

This was a large worry, but totally unnecessarily so, as all brides were relieved to have structure and a plan, in these uncertain times.( I love my clients! )

Bex the human found she was actually managing to spin both plates, nearly dropped them a few times, but actually it was ok. She survived the winter ( well the first 3 weeks of a pandemic anyway…)

One day, today in fact, the day after she did the silly challenge with her daughter to ride wearing rainbow veils on their #dailyexercise she woke up, felt different.

Lay there a moment wondered what it was??

What is this feeling??

O M G

It’s creativity, its come back, the crazy peacock that took flight to some far away tree, its back.

So today I’m off to the Studio with lightness in my heart, I’m putting the heavy rock I’ve been lumping around down, in my new rockery in my newly tidied garden.

Today I’m off to make etsy orders, stars and Rainbows, for when Weddings start again, oh what a glorious day that will be.

Here is the etsy link for the veil ,bike and daughter not included…

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/772566104/ombre-wedding-veil-alternative-wedding

🦚🌈🦚🌈🦚🌈🦚🌈🦚🌈🦚🌈🦚🌈🦚