As we are all aware the pandemic Covid19 has had a huge effect on us all worldwide. For many of us there has been devastating consequences we’ve lost family and friends but for some they’ve fought back, got creative in their thinking and made a difference in the face of adversity.
For the first time we found ourselves put in situations that we ever even imagined we would ever have to find solutions to i.e. home schooling while being parents trying to work from home – but we did. I’d like to share my story with you and hope you can take away some tips that may help you on your journey.
Life before Covid was very different for me, I was Mum to 2 young boys, a part time maths teacher at a local school and ran a small part time business Scrumptious by Lucy, selling brownies and cakes at local food festivals and street markets in Sheffield. I would occasionally travel further afield into neighbouring counties, and attend many of the larger food markets such as Malton, near York and many in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.
Pre Covid, I loved my life, very hectic, but really satisfying, I had the best of all worlds, a steady job in teaching, raising a young family (that was the hectic bit) and a passion for baking, something I had gained from my grandmother, and then my mother, and now something I love getting my boys George and Harry aged 5 & 2 involved in.
I just absolutely loved the buzz of a market, it was really good meeting so many people, and the thing I enjoyed most was listening to people talk about my brownies and cakes, meeting repeat customers who had bought my chocolate brownies in the past and wanted them as a brownie gift for a loved one or relative, or just a treat.
I loved the atmosphere of the markets and I didn’t really see things changing and no-one was prepared for what happened in early 2020.
When Covid arrived on 23rd March 2020 and Boris made his “Stay At Home” speech, that effectively stopped my business in its tracks. I had no customers and tough decisions to make, either pack the business in and remain as a teacher working from home, with the odd day going in to teach children of key workers, or go online, build a website and an online business and work from home with a lot more hours and commitment.
I hadn’t ever imagined working from home, I know as a teacher I took work home with me, but this was structured and not hugely demanding on time, but now to permanently work from home and build a business in the digital world seemed daunting, but I took the decision to do it.
The first two months working from home was a bit of a novelty. With no real timetable, the boys didn’t need to get up for school, my husband was now also working from home, and things felt a little relaxed, like an extended holiday, but without the ability to go anywhere? It would have been so easy to lounge around in PJ’s all day?
I decided I really did need to focus on building my business, I had no knowledge about the digital world, E-Commerce, deliveries etc, so I set out timetables and goals, such as when I would work, so getting up, getting into the office (Kitchen) dealing with all the people who offered to help me, and I really did have such great help and encouragement from my family.
My husband’s father took on the challenge of building a website. Someone looked at marketing, another someone at social media. I took on the challenge of increasing my range of brownies and blondie, as well as the delivery side and how the brownies would travel, so that Postman Pat and his cat Jess wouldn’t crush or destroy them in the post.
I found the most important thing with working from home was to set up a structure of timetables, agree the goals, set end dates and review dates, and then set up meetings and keep to them.
Using Team or Zoom was really good for me, it made sure I was up, dressed, makeup etc and treating it as a business, rather than a hobby. It would have been so easy to spend all day in PJ’s and a dressing gown. Even the children started to understand Mummy was working and everyone helping me and treated it as business we were building, and not a hobby or pastime to get through the lockdown.
I eventually created a great range of brownies and blondies, as well as a beautiful brownies gift boxes designed to be delivered through a letterbox, so if the recipient was out, this wasn’t a problem, and the letterbox brownies arrived in the same condition they were sent.
After lots of hard work and team effort everything fell into place, I now have a really good online presence and my business Scrumptious by Lucy is growing. I have expanded into wholesale orders, as well as taking on some excellent corporate clients, and agreeing a reliable fast brownies delivery service with a national courier so I can get my brownies delivered anywhere in the UK, and accept online payments.
Now with Covid19 restrictions easing and my online business growing, I have started attending the food festivals and markets I used to attend far more confident and a stronger brand. I still love the buzz of street markets and food festivals, meeting my lovely customers, but now I have another side of me, in dealing with online customers, so in effect I do now have the best of both worlds.
So, if you have ever had that dream to do something such as starting a new business, this is the perfect time as we come out of the crises. If I can do it during the worst possible time, what is stopping you?
About The Author
My name is Lucy Foley. I am a mother of two young boys, George aged 5 and Harry aged 2, I am married to Thomas and live in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
I have lived in Sheffield all my life and studied accountancy at Sheffield University, after I graduated, I spent a few years in accountancy, however, I have found working in an office environment with little human interaction was not really for me, and decided as I loved meeting people, and helping people understand the complexities of mathematics, teaching maths at school was a natural progression.
My real passion though, has always been for baking, I still remember my grandmother sitting me on a kitchen worktop as we baked together, and this is something my mother continued with, and now I do the same with the boys.
I am, I suppose a perfectionist, and always strive to achieve the perfect result, and non more so, than in my baking, I love to please people and come up with new and original recipes.
Starting my own home made brownies business Scrumptiousbylucy.com was a dream I have held for some considerable time, and now I have achieved this during the worst crises this country has faced in 70 years. This makes me feel proud, so maybe timing was not my strong point ; ) but my passion for baking came through in the end.
I hope one day to grow my Sheffield brownies business so that it becomes a household name.