Rising Above! Starting a business during a pandemic and lockdown.
Raising each other while starting a business and living through a lockdown and pandemic.
by Jess and Stacey
This season we are living through is new to everyone. It’s created so many ‘news’, I’m sure, in most of our lives. The world is in a hustle to make things work and make things count. I almost caught my fingers typing away that it’s been ‘a new adventure’. Hell No! Fingers, you will not type that: it has not been an adventure. An adventure would give the illusion that we were embarking on some fun and exciting yet nerve-wracking and challenging times. No, this pandemic is not an adventure. There has been nothing fun or exciting about it. Although, we could say that starting a new business, and especially now, could be an adventure. Gosh, a rollercoaster as well.
Connectable Life, our new and exciting business.
Being women, new to business and certainly new to a world-changing pandemic- I’m sure you can imagine the joy, grateful hearts and pure delight that we experienced when we had been selected, as a chosen few, to be showcased by the ‘Rise Women’ team Rachel Kolisi and Tammy Rawstron on their blog. Rise Women is a platform that motivates women to stand together, to lift each other up and to hold hands. That is our heart- we are women and we are for women. We are for healing, community and upliftment in every way.
These Rise women encouraged and challenged us to put onto paper what this Lockdown, Covid-19 experience has been for our business and our lives. Jess and I combined our experiences and feelings and so the story of two moms who became business women goes. We had a dream that needed to become a reality, not for us. But for the world. We have created this platform – Connectable Life- in the dream and hope that people’s lives will be touched, transformed and changed. Hope, Peace and Happiness will be a thread that lives within every crevice of this business.
As challenging as this season has been, we will forever remember it as the time that gave birth to our business – Connectable Life. A business that had been well underway since August 2019, but became a reality in April 2020 – in the middle of a world-altering-virus-infested pandemic.
These are our families:
How would you sum up your lockdown experience?
Challenging. Juggling kids, cooking, home-schooling, housework and launching a new business has been quite a challenge. But an enjoyable one, nonetheless. I am sure we can all relate to the many (extra) hats that we have had to wear and somehow, overnight, just ACCEPT AND ADAPT. We all know the feeling of ’mom guilt’ which, during this time, has been on overload just because you trying to fit it all in.
Have you accomplished anything particularly unusual during lockdown?
We launched our business during lockdown. Given that our business is a website and online, some may see this as a blessing. It has, however, come with huge strain. Understandably so. Given that our business is a platform for people to find help, care and take a bit of time for themselves- it is easy to see why during this time people are not seeing to these things. People’s lives have been SO busy and chaotic and different and stressful and probably more about everyone else in their household rather than themselves. Not to mention the fact that people have lost jobs and are taking huge financial strain- ‘self-care’ may be seen more as a want rather than a need right now.
Explain the effects that lockdown has had on your health and fitness?
It is no secret that we have all been constrained to our households. With little kids, our most regular form of exercise was walks. This obviously had to stop. I would say, overall, that our health and fitness has been average. For the most part, we try to eat healthy and be active when and as best we can- but there are days when the lockdown sets in and we eat all the wrong things in exchange.
Considering what you know now, would you have gone into lockdown with a different mindset,– was there a moment during lockdown where everything changed?
Our mindset from the onset of the lockdown has generally been a positive one. We have understood the necessity and supported its cause. At the end of the day, we will do anything to protect our family, friends, and the people around us- and in this case, that simply means staying at home. That does not mean that it has been easy. We have had days of anger and days of sadness, but then all you have to do is look a little further and realise your blessings. There are people fighting this pandemic face on- we are simply staying at home, and out of its way. If anything, it probably would have been beneficial to create more of a routine from the outset.
This lockdown has felt very chaotic and all-over-the-show; yet, ironically, every day was the same. Humans, kids especially, thrive on routine. It felt like no one was getting anything productive done because it felt like there were constantly 15 balls in the air. There was a moment of realisation around week 4 that this new way of life was not going anywhere anytime soon. Things could not continue the way they were- it wasn’t benefitting anyone. Setting a ‘timetable’ and routine for the house really helped with this. Concentration was giving to one thing at a time and everything suddenly felt manageable and calm. It would have also been nice to be better prepared for home-schooling, had we known this was going to become our reality.
What have you learnt about social media during lockdown and how have you used it differently?
Social media has been such a lifeline. It really enables you to remain connected in a time when the world is so disconnected. The most obvious difference, for us, was the use of video and video platforms. Pre-lockdown days people would have preferred to simply send a text message and not be ‘seen’- but a few days into the lockdown and people were setting up video calls and conferences with people they hadn’t seen for years as well as those they had recently seen. It’s funny, really! Of course, we must give mention to the rise of TikTok. Gosh, we have even found ourselves getting involved and learning dances- it really has kept us entertained and happy. And then, of course, from a business perspective the most notable difference would be everybody making every effort to take their business online. People have been amazing at finding ways to keep their businesses alive during this time. There has also been an incredible push to ‘support local’.
Did you experience a sence of isolation during lockdown, or a freedom to explore other areas of life, without your regular routine?
Definitely a combination. There are days where you really enjoy the simplicity of it all. You get used to the ‘no make-up’ days, the activewear, the chaotic calm around you and just being at home- just being a family. And then, of course, there are days where this all seems and feels mundane. You want to dress up, go out and SEIZE THE DAY. There are days that you feel incredibly shut off from the world, and days where you enjoy being shut off from the world. This is probably the balance we should be taking into our ‘new lives’ post lockdown- too many of us tilt to either end of the dangerous scale.
Have you considered ways to tweak your brand, as a result of the confines of lockdown?
Most definitely! You will notice that our slogan is ‘Your Global Meeting Place’. When we came up with this business idea (September 2019), we saw it as an opportunity for clients- the people that would be using the platform. We are from a small town with very limited help and therapies. We saw so many people that needed varying forms of help, care and guidance and they just could not get it. Our goal was to make healthcare accessible- for people like these. We looked at the reasons for people not receiving the help they need and summed it up to: time, availability, cost and stigma.
For us, online solves most, if not all, of these. But the reason for the global was to counteract the ‘time’ factor. People cannot reach out for help if they working a full day and have busy family lives- so we thought that if we had international specialists, time zones would enable them to receive this help outside of office and family hours- at a time that suits them. Since the Corona Virus, our marketing and minds have definitely shifted more towards that of the specialists. These are the people that are sitting at home and not receiving an income and these are the people we need to help and to protect. Our focus has moved to South African Specialists- the hope is that by them joining the platform, they can remain in business, but from home where they are safe.
What does your daily lockdown routine look like?
7am-9am-(obviously!) walk as a family, go for a run alone, do exercise
9:30-11:00- ‘school’, ‘sport’
14:00- 16:30- work
16:30- family fun
This is a daily juggle and struggle but what we try to stick to. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. In between all of this there are also all the daily chores and cleaning. We try to keep the deep cleans for the weekend when we have less work to do. There is a delicate balance between finding time for work, kids and cleaning.
What 3 aspects of lockdown did you find were most beneficial?
Family togetherness, simplicity and less time wasted in a car doing run-arounds and unnecessary trips.
Is there anything significant your have learnt during the lockdown period?
Definitely! Life needs to slow down. We cannot continue the way we were. We need to remain connected to those closest to us while supporting those around us. Humans are incredibly giving and kind- the generosity during this time has been historic on its own.
Are you looking forward to the end of lockdown, and will you resume life exactly as you left off at the start of lockdown – or do you expect a new normal?
There will definitely be a new normal. Our day-to-day will probably eventually go back to normal- but how the world functions as whole will forever be changed. The hope is to remember what these times have taught and to hold on to what is important.
If you were not afraid of anything what would you do with your life?
The scariest thing, for me, and probably most, is putting yourself out there. The fear and feeling of rejection is real. Obviously we can’t please everyone, and will never be liked by everyone, but it still stings when this is brought home. So starting this business and not just putting our ideas out there, but actually asking people to buy into our ideas is probably one of the scariest things I have done. I always knew that I wanted to help and always knew that I wanted to work with people- but if you told me that I was going to join forces with a friend after a simple coffee date and create a platform where people can get help online, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. So, this is that scary dream for me! The cherry on top will be when we get to the point where we can start giving back and creating a bigger circle of help… then I will know that we have made it.
Fast forward a few weeks
And so, here we are-July 2020, challenged to be bolder than ever before. To stand up to our fears, to ask and answer the hard questions of life. We choose to seek help and guidance when we need it and to encourage others to do the same. To be business women, business partners, wives, moms, daughters and friends. Striving not just for good, but for great and not just for ourselves, but for every woman. We are here for every woman. Not looking at the external but at your heart. We want to be women who unify, not just holding hands but keeping each other from falling. Join us.