A New “Normal"
With all this COVID-19 craziness, we’re relieved to say that, overall, we’re doing alright. Right now we’re a little overworked and under-staffed, but things could be a lot worse. Life is starting to settle into a new routine and we thought it would be good to post an update — to let you know where we’re at and what to expect through the next few months.
Our highest priority is to keep people safe — our employees, customers, friends, family, neighbors, everybody. We’ve been following the CDC health and safety guidelines from the beginning. Our retail shop is closed and we’ve rearranged our employees’ schedules to reduce the number of people at the studio together.
We’re sanitizing, wearing masks, and physically distancing at work. It’s weird and kind of awkward and times, but… these aren’t normal times. Luckily we have a great team and everyone is doing their best to keep each other safe. It’s a slightly smaller crew than usual, so we’re doing our best to keep up.
In late March, our home state of Minnesota instituted a stay-at-home order, which meant we had to furlough most of our employees and close our business for candle production and shipping. A few weeks later, the rules changed to allow some non-essential businesses to reopen, including ours.
Right after reopening, our sales bounced back and are actually higher than usual for this time of year, which was a huge surprise. This is normally the end of our busy season, when things slow down and we focus on other projects. Since we’re extra busy and have limited staff, we’re taking a little longer than usual to make and ship out candles.
We’ve been able to (slowly, carefully) bring back our crew. To keep our studio safe, we aren’t hiring any more employees right now. Instead, we’re keeping production as simple as possible — only 8 oz jars and wax melts. More sizes will return when we are able to rearrange our workspace.
We only have a single candlemaker every day, sometimes with an assistant. Our plan is to switch everybody over to making candles, instead of shipping out orders.
Up until recently, we’ve done everything out of our studio space — product design, manufacturing, shipping, returns, photography, etc. With the current health crisis, it’s especially important that we find ways to spread people out and limit the work done inside our building.
Right now, shipping is our biggest bottleneck — it’s fairly slow, labor-intensive and takes up a lot of space at our studio. We’re making the switch to using a fulfillment center, which will likely happen on June 1st. They’ll become responsible for mailing out all of our orders to our customers and we’ll finally be able to spend more time on what we’re passionate about: making awesome things that need to exist.
Everyone is buying online right now. Postal workers are super busy. The USPS has increased the shipping time on all classes of mail, so orders will likely take an extra day or more to get delivered. Along with our crew being extra busy, this means that orders aren’t going to arrive as fast as usual. We really appreciate your patience and understanding. Many of you have written kind messages to us, which means a lot.
International shipments are having an especially difficult time right now. In some cases, countries aren’t able to get mail from the US at all. We’re doing our best to keep track of those changes and apologize if we can’t ship to your country right now. For the countries that remain open to mail, many orders are super delayed. We know this is frustrating. Thank you for your patience while the postal systems deal with their own difficulties. It may take a while before things return to “normal.”
Retail is Still Closed
Our state is taking a step-by-step approach to reopening. Minnesota is now allowing more businesses to do curbside pickup, but we aren’t quite ready for that yet. Once it’s set up, we’ll send out an update — sign up for our email newsletter below, if you haven’t. For now, we encourage local customers to order online or check with one of our stockists.
Shop Small, Shop Local
If you can, support your local bookstores and gift shops. We sell our candles around the country and it’s possible that you can order a pickup or delivery from one of our stockists. Normally we don’t allow brick-and-mortar stores to sell our candles online, but we’re making an exception for stores that are suffering during the pandemic, which is most retailers. Please do what you can to support small businesses that are struggling at this time.
Despite the difficulties we are all facing, we’re hopeful that life will slowly improve. It may take some time, but many, many people are working towards that goal. We appreciate everyone who is working hard to help others — health care workers, especially.
We’re very fortunate and don’t want to take it for granted. Normally we sponsor the Community Showcase at our local summer art festival, the exceptional Powderhorn Art Fair in South Minneapolis. This large event is moving online this year, but we’re tentatively planning to host a smaller art market outside our studio in August. Our hope is to support artists in our community and do something fun this summer.
Thank you again for supporting our small handmade business. Until this is all over, stay safe, keep reading good books and burning candles!