It was around a year ago, that I began what turned out to be the most challenging period of my career. It was not a fun chapter and while I’ve always loved the analogy of one’s life being a book, this chapter was one I would have happily skipped. As in, like, not even touched a page....
Suddenly, that virus we’d all heard about called Coronavirus was not so far away at all – it was here, there, and everywhere. It was a global pandemic that would change the lives of each and every one of us. No one was immune. Literally. Lives were lost. Jobs were lost. Homes were lost. Relationships broke down. And as one by one, my advertisers called to say that they’d need to put their campaigns on hold, I saw my business shrinking within a matter of a week. I acted fast, simply because I had to. I didn’t even have time to think about what I was doing or contemplate my decisions. I needed to downsize… fast. I said goodbye to the office space we were in (it had felt so momentous moving in and packing up left me so unbearably depleted). My team got smaller. As we all began WFH, I retreated with my laptop to the front room of our home, which is where I first began the business, all those years ago. My husband, who runs an events business, also came home, and the both of us watched in despair as our industries were hit hard. Where to now?
In many ways, it felt like I was starting from scratch. I cried, of course. I rediscovered my love of gin. I cherished my family and friendships. I watched British crime series with my husband. I cuddled my girls. I grabbed one of my school mum friends who also ran her own company and started exercising a few times a week. We’d both turn up to each session with news of what had unraveled over the past few days – there as always something to report. Those exercise sessions were like therapy. And I told myself to get a grip and toughen up. Shit happens. Then, I did what my mother taught me to do, just get on with it.
I settled into working from home, which prior to having an office for The Grace Tales, I’d done for many years, and actually quite enjoyed. I reminded myself that I’d built a global brand, which women loved and that all was far from lost. I started reaching out to women all over the world and sharing their lockdown stories. I decided to start a Podcast, something which had been talked about for years but was always put in the too-hard basket. It turns out it wasn’t too hard at all. All I needed was a semi-reliable internet connection and a moment of quiet (both were never guaranteed). Through the Podcast, and the conversations I had with women from everywhere – New York, London, all around Australia – I was reminded that when you strip it all away, human connection is what life is all about. It’s what we need in order to thrive and feel supported. I loved the conversations I had, which were usually in the early hours of the morning, or late into the evening. I loved how honest and vulnerable people were. The winter months came and went, and then springtime bloomed and there was hope in the air until another series of lockdowns began. And now, here we are, unsure of what the future holds, but taking it week by week because that is all we can do.
This particular month, however, is extra special, because soon, I will have news to share. Big news which I’ve been impatiently sitting on for weeks while we got the deal done. I will be sharing it with you next week, but before I share it, I want to share the ‘why’ of this business, so you’ll have a better understanding of exactly why this news is so exciting and meaningful for our business.
All those years ago, as a new (and young – sigh) mum, my ‘why’ for starting The Grace Tales was simply to support, inspire and connect mothers. I wanted to do what I love doing most, share stories. I wanted to remind women that whatever they’ve been through, or they’re going through, they’re not alone. Ever. I started when I worked at VOGUE, and for the first year, I would just post a couple of times a week. It was a passion project which opened me up to the new world of motherhood which I was in the thick of.
As my two daughters have gotten older and soon will become little women, I want to not only continue to support the mothers in our communiy, but inspire all women, no matter what life stage they’re at, to believe they can do anything they set their minds to.
My dream was to be able to expand our business to offer our readers and members engaging online courses, a constant stream of events – both digital and IRL – and of course, brilliant content. The news I’ll be announcing will mean I’ll be able to do all of that and much more.
And know that I’m not going anywhere, I’ll still be here, doing what I love doing most – writing, editing, interviewing, and hopefully adding lots of inspiration to your lives through the stories we share and the connections we create.
Stay tuned to find out what’s inside our next chapter. While I have no doubt there are many challenges ahead for each and every one of us as the world tries to conquer Covid-19, it’s set to be a great one.
Dress by Unik Space | Image: Julie Adams