This interview is part of a series chatting with local business owners, artists, organizers and people in our community who are learning to adapt during COVID-19.
Sheryl Delorme – Special Effects Decorating & Lifestyle Boutique
Describe your business.
Expect the unexpected. We are an independent business, a gallery of styles, a lifestyle of home that offers fashion, gourmet food, jewellery, gifts, design and workshops. Many of our products are Canadian-made, [including my] own unique brand of home decor called Chez Moi. [The business will soon] include an AirBnB that was designed by me and my husband, Jason, as part of our 1800s century home.
What does working from home/your workplace look like for you right now?
We are used to working from home as we live where we work. In that aspect there has been very little change, other than being closed to the public. Designing and decorating are a natural part of our lives; the only missing factor is the lack of contact with others.
How have you adapted your operations during the pandemic?
Once the news to close our retail shoppe had been announced, we had to think quickly [about] how we could see the silver lining in this decision-making process. We knew that our sales were going to be greatly affected both by the lack of retail sales and the lack of design work that we offer. Not being able to go into people’s homes to complete the work was a difficult pill to swallow. We also knew that we had plenty of our own work that needed to be completed on our addition for our AirBnB.
Keeping the doors open, but not in the traditional way, was not an option but a necessity as we carry gourmet food products. We also noticed very quickly that if everyone was contained to their homes that they would need ideas to stay busy. We were very quick to offer our porch pick-up as an opportunity for the public to take this time to put their focus on other ideas, such as art and food.
Since we offer painting workshops on different art techniques for home decor and furnishings, we knew that the demand for our Fusion Mineral Paint would be crazy. It was and still is. We quickly started doing more how-to live [videos] on our Facebook page for people to do from the comfort of their own homes. This paid off and our paint sales increased; the company in Toronto was bombarded with so many orders that they could not make the product fast enough.
We were and still are so thankful that we had this opportunity to continue to offer our community something of value while confined.
How have we been supported by our community?
We cannot say enough good things about Brighton and the opportunity to connect in a way that we never imagined. [We’ve had] an outpouring of support from many of our regular customers, and lots of new customers from many other communities, who were genuinely concerned for our business and general well-being.
We also made a connection on a much deeper level as we were all going through the same thing at the same time. The idea to focus on art and creating those special pieces for your own home was a good way to focus our attention on the positive instead of the negative.
We were also able to start discussing our new addition and share in the story of how we were moving forward in the face of the pandemic. I think it gives us and others hope for the future.
Even as I write this another customer has just reached out who is showing concern for us opening the doors to the public next week. We are continuing with the porch pick-ups but have now included [booked] appointments to enter our shoppe. This way we can control the amount [of people] entering and each one must come with a mask and gloves which will be disposed of when they leave.
What is something good that has come out of this difficult situation?
There is always a positive take-away from every situation. For us, I think the genuine outpouring of concern from the community. The reminder of how precious family and friends are. The fact that we are all so far apart but yet we have all come together to offer kindness and support to complete strangers.
What advice do you have for other business owners at this time?
Stay focused on the end game and take it one day at a time. Start thinking about how you can adapt and change your business to suit the new normal. You have to be willing to make concessions and think outside the box for your business. Each one is so different and you have to keep an open mind. If one thing does not work, don’t be tied to it, adjust your sails and move on. This is most certainly a time of great distress for everyone and a positive mind will go farther than the alternative.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We are all sharing the same feelings of anxiety and distress, and concern for the economy and for how we will get through this unprecedented time. Focusing on the problem and not the solution will never help anyone. Write down your ideas, discuss them with others who are in business. Ask questions of others in your industry and find out how they are coping. Much like you have done here!
Stay tuned as we share more local folks who are Makin’ It Work, and check out our weekly interviews (of the same name) on Instagram Live every Friday.