When COVID hit the world and we all went into lockdown, Mulberry like many, many businesses was hit with a significant drop in projects. At the time of the first lockdown, the majority of our work was for Exhibitions and BIG Live Events. We decided to follow our own advice and market our way out of the pandemic. BUT we didn’t know where to start.
Our struggles in the early part of the pandemic have been well documented. It was always going to be a tricky time for our boutique agency. The number of major life events happening simultaneously for Claire and I were difficult enough, without the Coronavirus added into the mix.
So where’s a boutique marketing agency to go when they need help?
Well fortunately the business community has really pulled together and fellow agency owners joined forces and pooled resources to help each other survive.
From this supportive network we were introduced to the amazing Jeremy Graham-Clare from ActionCoach. His guidance and advice have been invaluable in helping us grow our business through the last year.
He has helped us reach out to clients new and old and recognise how we had perhaps been hiding our light rather under a bushel. He made us realise that while we thought we were giving you all great insight into all our service offerings – in fact we were being pigeon-holed into a single service offering for many, just because we weren’t getting the word out.
We are great at communicating for our clients, but we hadn’t put enough time into our own comms!
We have been putting a lot more time and effort into this and it’s been great to reconnect with everyone and take on some really exciting projects this year.
Jeremy is an amazing coach, no matter what sector your business is in. Please do connect with him if you want to boost your business. He’s a really great guy to talk to, and everyone needs a little of Jeremy’s positivity in their lives.
Comments Off on Happy 1st Birthday little lockdown boy!
Wow! What a year. It’s difficult to know where to start. I can’t quite believe it’s a year since that strange 24hours in hospital, and yet I have a little boy who is now taking his first proper steps and working on his own communication skills.
He’s grown so much in the 12months. There are still family members he is yet to meet, and unfortunately there will be no big family gathering to mark his first year on planet earth – BUT, we can now tentatively start planning a gathering of uncles and aunts and close friends to meet our little boy, in May when (everything crossed now) the restrictions are further lifted.
Much has been made in the media about how hard it has been for pregnant and new mothers during the pandemic. And whilst that is undoubtedly true, I’d like to thank the pandemic for some real unexpected bonuses that giving birth at the peak of the first wave gave me…
A very short hospital stay – (Compared to almost 2 weeks first time around). The staff understandably didn’t want anyone staying any longer than was absolutely necessary, so I was out the next day.
Endless paternity leave – Hubby was working from home, so we had much more time together and it gave him an amazing understanding of newborn life! 😂 In all seriousness though, it means he has the most incredible bond with our little one.
Home schooling – Okay I don’t know anyone who enjoyed this (including me) BUT having big sis at home meant she also had to bond with baby pretty quickly. He was her only ‘child’ pal for ages and it’s brought them so close together. They’re already running rings around us!
Working from home – My maternity leave was very odd if I’m honest. The business needed constant attention. However now (when maternity leave would be well and truly over) I can still spend precocious time with our kids (taking and picking them up from school and nursery). My working hours are much more flexible and without the daily commute I can use my time much better.
Small mercies – COVID has really made us all appreciate what we had – and yearn for those small pleasures; a coffee in a cafe, a night out with the girls, live music, art galleries, theatre, cinema. It has also made us discover new ways to connect with friends, family, and work mates. Much as Zoom and the like could be problematic, in many ways its convenience has meant we connect more often with our clients and more efficiently. It’s been so lovely to talk with you all and have that human connection, when in so many ways we feel so cut off from so much. Smaller online businesses have also provided little pockets of joy. Letterbox gifts are such a delightful arrival and are so much fun to send. I shall definitely be using these services more and more in the future.
So all in all there is much to be thankful for… now, where’s the cake!
Comments Off on Looking after yourself is really important right now
It’s easy to forget to look after yourself when there’s so much going on. Both Claire and I know this only too well. With the added stress of Covid-19 on top of difficult personal circumstances, plus running a business, we have to remind ourselves that looking after number 1 is not only allowed but important.
Here are a few things that have perked us up over the last few months… we hope they inspire you to take some time for yourself too.
It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that food is one of the things that has made things bearable. We both treated each other to some sustenance during lock down. Here are some ideas to spoil yourself.
Baking has provided a great source of comfort and if you need some cheesecake inspo take a look at PLEESECAKES
I sent Claire some Biscuiteers iced biscuits – the perfect special treat with a cuppa.
With spas closed for the foreseeable, there’s one truly spectacular company making it easy to treat your skin at home. Plus their environmental and ethical ethos is second to none. If you’ve not come across Tropic before, now is the time to try them out. I promise you won’t regret it.
It can be utterly disheartening reading and watching the news at the moment. Why not balance this out by subscribing to The Happy Newspaper it truly is a ray of sunshine in these crazy times.
Exercise your right to ‘me time’.
It’s difficult to get moving with the gyms and exercise classes closed but, with all the extra baking and cooking we’re doing, it’s probably a good idea to move a bit more. I’ve found some great ideas on Pinterest and YouTube for exercise routines – but Claire’s gone one better taking part in Free online Yoga classes and Freeletics – an exercise app, with a 3 month subscription option for just over £30 total.
Comments Off on A round up of a few Memes and the like, which have made us smile during lockdown…
Like many businesses (and individuals) here at Mulberry we had to adapt very quickly to a different way of working. With events cancelled or postponed we also experienced a drop in projects. BUT we are sunny people here and we quickly discovered that there are many things that we can be thankful for and that can make a grey day a little more colourful.
Like many we had fun games with video calls interrupted by toddlers (and sometimes husbands).
Days that seemed inordinately long and weeks that went by in the blink of an eye. It appears there’s now a little light at the end of the tunnel. But if you’re having a blue day or just need a chuckle, here are a few internet gems that have kept us smiling throughout the last few months.
Comments Off on Confined to the UK as traveling abroad brings quarantine headaches? No problem! Just join some Great British clubs for a Great Staycation.
Let the National UK staycation commence! Make the most of your country by visiting all the wonderful spaces that makes Britain Great.
Following the recent relaxation of the lockdown rules, it’s wonderful news that membership groups National Trust and the RHS are slowly opening their parks and gardens again. They’re doing this through a controlled booking system so you might want to get in quick!
Seeing as we’re confined to the UK for a while, it’s made me wonder if more of us will take up membership to contribute to and make the most of the different organisations that champion Great Britain. There are so many wonderful spaces for you and your family to visit and you reap more benefits if you become a member of those places. In turn, your visit and membership supports them more than you could know.
The running costs of these Great British spaces are relied on heavily through public support, membership fees and selfless volunteers so it’s vital we support them following the pandemic.
Aside from the National Trust and RHS, you have English Heritage, The Woodland Trust, CAMRA – who is currently driving campaigns to save breweries and the Great British pub, Caravan & Motorhome Club for a post-lockdown staycation. You also have all the extensive museums and galleries – IWM, The Tate, British Museum, The V&A… the list is endless! Plenty to make the National UK staycation a great one.
If there’s one thing for certain (apart from the obvious), lockdown has surely taught us to appreciate what’s on our doorsteps and make the most of our exquisite British spaces.
Comments Off on Running a business and having a baby in the midst of a pandemic… among other things…
It’s a funny thing – life. It carries on regardless of everything happening around it. I knew my baby was somewhat mis-timed when I first carried out the pregnancy test, but it didn’t matter. We were still overjoyed. After two miscarriages – one ectopic, one ‘just normal’, we had begun to wonder if a second baby was even possible.
BUT, the timing was a little unfortunate. I had just gone back to working full time and had also agreed that when our financial Director – Kathy – retired at the end of March, I would take over the bookkeeping for Mulberry. Baby was due in April – the end of our financial year and my first month as financial director (among all the other hats I wear).
Perhaps I should explain that, as a boutique agency, my fellow partner and certified angel – Claire – and I have to take on multiple roles. From actually doing the work we love and have trained in, to now also running the business and everything that goes with it. Understanding employment law, becoming an expert in the finer details of BT contract wrangling, keeping up with the latest office tech and support programmes, plus HR, client liaison, etcetera etcetera.
So April was always going to be a little challenging, but we were ready, we had prepared. Plans had been made. Then the world decided to throw Corvid-19 into the mix and it all got a little weird.
But baby was coming all the same so there was not a lot we could do except – accept, do our best, try and stay sane… and DON’T PANIC!
Oh! AND we were also meant to be moving offices … which we sort of did but not to where we expected… by the 17th of March we had all moved to working from home.
Having a baby in the midst of a pandemic is an unusual and somewhat unsettling experience. My final midwife appointments and hospital scans were very different to those early on in the pregnancy – when everyone was blissfully unaware of the sh#t storm heading our way. Now my appointments took place in virtually empty hospitals and waiting rooms.
The friendly reassuring faces of consultants and midwives were covered with masks, and everyone was frantically following my every move with antibacterial wipes and sprays. Any receptionist I came across had a 2 metre barrier around them, so I had to hand over notes awkwardly, while my feet carried on social distancing.
The most stark contrast to my previous pregnancy was the birth itself. For my second born I ‘chose’ an elective c-section. In the weeks leading up to the birth, my husband and I looked out for news about whether he would even be allowed into the hospital. Helpful people warned that he may not be allowed at the birth at all. I don’t mind admitting that the prospect of not having him there to hold my hand, and meet his son in the immediate aftermath, terrified me. It was an added anxiety to what was already a worrying time.
As we headed towards the inevitable birth, I also had the additional pressures of running a business impacted quite severely by coronavirus. Many of our clients have big events over the coming months – these were all cancelled, much to everyone’s disappointment. It meant that all the communication materials we designed around these events were also cancelled, significantly hitting our income. As a result I had to furlough a number of our team – including myself. Our clients were equally worried and making big sacrifices – many of our contacts were similarly furloughed and any communications they were creating had, in many cases, been taken in-house to reduce costs. All eminently understandable but equally very worrying as we saw our income dwindle.
I was left to navigate the government website to find information on claiming the furlough costs back, along with hunting out how to apply for the small business grant – absolutely fundamental to our survival. This of course was on top of sorting end of year accounts, plus all the other usual financials a small business has to do each month. It all needed to be sorted before I went into hospital.
We also had to decided who was going to look after our little girl while we were in hospital. My parents and my husband’s parents are classed as vulnerable. So it didn’t seem right to leave our first born with them, or have them over to our house to babysit. Fortunately my sister is fit and healthy – and available to come to ours to look after our daughter. She had to come the night before because we needed to be at the hospital by 7:30am. We were very lucky she could stay a couple of days because we knew I would be in hospital for at least one night if not longer.
When the day came, the rules in place meant I had to enter the hospital alone. This felt very strange and overwhelming. I went up to the pre-natal ward, where I was prepped for theatre (this predominantly consisted of filling out paperwork and donning some very attractive compression stockings) and awaited news of when I would be taken to theatre. This was dependent on the other planned c-section women and who was a priority case, plus if there were any emergency c-sections, which would naturally take priority too.
My husband waited in the car, in the hospital car park, not knowing if he would be there for minutes or several hours. I was told that I would be able to call him to join me once I was about to go into theatre. He would be there for the birth and then allowed into the recovery room with me, but as soon as I was moved to the post-natal ward (probably around two hours later) he would have to go home.
I was extremely lucky. We got to the ward early – because, quite frankly, I couldn’t really sleep and was up at 5am. There were no emergencies and so I was first into theatre. Everything went relatively smoothly and baby arrived at 10:08am. My husband got a few very precious cuddles in with our little boy before having to leave me at around 12pm as I got wheeled onto the postnatal ward.
What a major difference awaited me to my first experience of post-natal ward life. The ward was virtually silent. Last time the chatter of excited couples filled the space. Now with no husbands and partners by bedsides everyone was virtually mute. There were hushed phone calls and occasional babies’ cries for milk or comfort, but that was it.
Last time we were surrounded by intimate family life – some of it beautiful, some of it positively lewd and crude – as couples adjusted to the latest addition to their family. This time there was an eerie quiet that would have been very restful, if it wasn’t for a palpable feeling of fear of the unknown and anxiety of what was to come.
In the middle of the night the woman in the bed next to me developed a fever. This caused mild panic on the ward (although I have to say the midwives and Doctors seemed to take it in their stride – how they remain so unflappably reassuring at such times I have no idea). My baby was wonderfully peaceful for most of the night but I don’t think I slept a wink. I worried about the poor woman next to me who was shivering and scared. I was on high alert to every noise – not just to the snuffles of the baby sleeping comfortably by my side. When breakfast arrived I was grateful that it was now a respectable time to be awake. The woman in the next bed seemed to be improving and I overheard the Doctor say they were certain it was not CoronaVirus but an infection. The whole ward breathed a collective sign of relief.
It became clear as the day progressed that anyone fit to go home would be discharged as soon as possible. I was hoping that my little boy and I would pass all the necessary checks and be allowed home too. We each got through the various tasks we needed to as morning turned to afternoon. Our home seemed to be getting closer by the minute. Unfortunately for the woman beside me, her stay would have to be extended and I felt so sorry for her.
I finally got discharged at around 4pm. The midwife helped me down to the reception area with all my hospital and baby paraphernalia, along with more drugs than Keith Richards takes in a month of Sundays.
I was so pleased to see my husband and finally head home. I had an extremely excited toddler waiting to greet us. She was clearly so pleased to see both of us back home and meet her baby brother for the first time. We had tried our best to prepare her for Mummy going into hospital and baby brother coming home, but a few days after we were back she was lying in bed and suddenly said, “I missed you when you went away and I couldn’t come.”
“When I went into hospital to have your brother you mean?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied “I wanted to come too!”
“I know” I said, “but you know why you couldn’t?”
“Yes,” she responded “…because of stinky rotten CoronaVirus!”
So Pantone have announce ‘Classic Blue’ as 2020’s colour of the year. They say
“Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.“
It seems somewhat apt after the landslide win for the conservatives in December, coupled with Trump’s reign in America that the colour to hail the new decade is a ‘conservative’ blue-collar, well, BLUE.
For all those disappointed by the election results it will also have a somewhat bitter sweet meaning as one imagines many people are feeling somewhat ‘blue’ about the state of affairs.
However we at Mulberry are always seeking to find that silver line to the clouds and even better if we can catch a glimpse of some blue sky! So the fact that blue is generally a peaceful, restful colour that reminds us of the ocean, lakes and wide open skies, is what we’ll focus on for this blue period of all our lives. Now we must get back to all that blue sky thinking we promised our lovely clients we’d do…
Comments Off on César Manrique – #IconicDesign No.2
Welcome to the second instalment of our #IconicDesign series.
I have always felt that a holiday is not complete without visiting a gallery or enjoying a cultural experience, unique to the place you’re visiting. With the inclement weather we’ve recently encountered, I thought I’d bring a bit of sunshine to our blog and share my discovery from our family trip to Lanzarote.
César Manrique is kinda the Godfather of this extraordinary Canary Island. His influence can be found all across this volcanic paradise. It was fascinating to visit his house and glimpse inside this amazing man’s life.
His art has a real sense of fun, mixed with the surreal and a heady dose of Picasso influence. It’s clear that his eye for design is ideal for sympathetic landscaping and architecture – examples of which can be found all over the island.
My favourite experience of his amazing creativeness was in the Jardín de Cactus. This was the last intervention work César Manrique performed in Lanzarote.
Surrounded by the largest cactus plantation of the island, dedicated to crops of cochineal insect, a product of great financial relevance to Lanzarote in the 19th Century. Jardín de Cactus has around 4,500 specimens of 450 different species, of 13 different families of cactus from the five continents.
The green shade of the plants stands out against the blue sky and the dark volcano creating a harmonious explosion of colour. The only sounds that break the peace and quiet, are singing birds and boozing insects, enjoying their very own oasis.
César Manrique (1919-1992) was born at Arrecife, Lanzarote, an island on which his art was to leave an indelible mark.
After finishing his studies at the San Fernando Fine Arts Academy at Madrid (where he lived from 1945 to 1964), he exhibited his work on a regular basis both in Spain and abroad. In the early nineteen fifties, he ventured into non-figurative art and studied the properties of matter, concerns that would predominate in his compositions, bonding him to Spain’s contemporary “informalist” movement.
Despite the artist’s abstraction and matter-centrism, the plastic roots of his pictorial production lie in Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape, transformed into a sort of non-realist naturalism which, rather than a copy of the original, is an emotional translation of its significance. “I try to be the free hand that forms geology,” he wrote.
In 1964, he moved to New York, where he held three solo exhibitions in the Catherine Viviano gallery. The direct contact with American abstract expressionism, pop art, new sculpture and kinetic art afforded Manrique a visual culture essential to his subsequent creative development.
In the mid-nineteen sixties, upon his return to his native island, he undertook a series of spatial and landscape artistic projects that were not only entirely new at the time, but constituted a statement of his plastic and ethical principles. These actions and interventions aimed to turn the landscape and the island’s natural attractions to value, with a view to generating a new international image and portrayal that would form part of Lanzarote’s adaptation to the tourist economy.
His new aesthetic ideal, called art-nature/nature-art, integrated different modes of artistic expression visible in Manrique’s landscape art. All these works are imbued with the artistic principles he held most dear: respectful dialogue between art and the natural medium and between local architectural values and modern conceits.
2020 is proving to be a very exciting year for Mulberry. As well as working with a number of lovely new clients, we are also going through various changes in-house. We will soon be saying Farewell to the lovely Kathy as she retires. We wish her the very best and hope she enjoys spending more quality time with her grandchild.
We also hope very soon to be sharing some other exciting news…
Watch this space!
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