September 7, 2020
What an odd and incredible summer this has been. I decided to take a hiatus from my blog to step away from the computer and drink in the glorious but painfully short summer months.
It felt fitting on this Labour Day Monday, to pick up the mantle (or in this case the keyboard) again and dig in with both hands.
Labour Day this year has a very different meaning than in the past with so many people still facing temporary or permanent job loss and small businesses experiencing unprecedented hits to their revenue in the prime summer season. It’s probably safe to say that there is no one who hasn’t been impacted personally by this global health crisis, and my family and business are certainly no exceptions.
For Off the Wall On the Fence we found ourselves suddenly “pivoting” on our marketing plans when tradeshows and community events were suddenly cancelled. Changing plans felt a little premature given we had launched less than 8 months earlier, but, like everyone else, being flexible and resilient was the only choice we had. For us that meant shifting our focus to building awareness for our new products beyond our local boundaries and growing our brand’s digital presence ‘across Canada.
Working with what I’ve come to call our “digital dream team”, a group of super smart and digitally savvy experts, we were able to learn so much about our customers, their desires and needs, and the ways in which we might spark their imaginations in new ways. As tough as it was to abandon our former plans, we feel like we have grown in ways that will position us for future success. And it’s a nice bonus that today, we can say for the first time, our outdoor prints are being enjoyed in the backyards of homeowners from Ontario to British Columbia.
Listen, it wasn’t the summer season we were anticipating when we launched last year. Our dreams were big and, while there have been some (okay MANY), moments of doubt, we have had the joy of many more of what I call “little wins”, which I believe are essential to an entrepreneur’s survival.
This summer we have had the chance to connect more closely with our customers and through that experience we now understand how personal our products are for some. We’ve watched as our customers have taken their time to choose the perfect image and the perfect backyard or patio spot. We’ve emailed, chatted and met in person as our customers have sought to connect to run their ideas by us or simply ask a question. Then there’s the sheer joy and excitement that so many share with us when their package arrives. We’ve been blessed with so much feedback and it’s opened our eyes to our purpose – the reason we are going down this crazy road in the first place.
“It’s a sure fire way to make your neighbours jealous”. Fiona Debell, Abstract Artist and Artists Outdoors member, www.fionadebell.com
“This is the perfect size glass of fizz for me”. Shari Mogk-Edwards, Sharispx, www.sharispx.com
Which brings me back to Labour Day. Let’s face it, we are all working for something, and up until recently, if I had thrown out the question “What are you working for?”, I may have heard a lot of “my trip to Italy”, or “an addition to my Prada collection”. But I’ll bet if I asked now, I’d hear much more of “a roof over my family’s head” or “a super delicious and somewhat indulgent Friday night take-ouf rom my local bistro”.
Whatever your situation is today, whether you are employed and adjusting to a new normal, or bravely searching in this seemingly hopeless job market, or finally giving breath to that one-of-a-kind business idea, I wish you well. And I wish for you the same satisfaction I now have – to be labouring for my customers, for myself and hopefully, for a more beautiful world.