How Can Independent Shops Respond Creatively to Coronavirus?

As part of our focus on how to help independent cafes, restaurants and shops cope with the challenges of the coronavirus lockdown, this week we’re looking at how small shops can respond creatively to these challenging times. And we found a great example of flexible, innovative thinking in our home town of Lewes, East Sussex.

Lounge of Lewes is a small but beautifully formed boutique, established in 2007 and managed by Meera Kumar. We at Engaging Interiors designed the refurbishment of the shop back in 2013, re-organising the circulation, improving the changing area and updating the look and feel of the shop. We have been impressed with Meera’s instagram campaign where she has been modelling the clothes she has for sale and encouraging customers to buy the outfits online.

adapting your shop to lockdown

Here’s what Meera told us about this new approach to keeping sales moving while the shop is closed:

So Meera, how are you and your daughter coping with lockdown?

Estelle and I are great! Spending quality time together is something I have not had the chance to do ever since I created Lounge of Lewes. Being a business owner and mother is difficult to balance at times. I am also  impressed with how as a teenager she has taken to  this situation. She has taught me the art of relaxing and to pause. She makes me laugh all day with her memes she has found!

How long did it take you to start the online campaign? Was there a light bulb moment or was it just a natural progression?

I started to create the online campaign before we closed for lockdown. In fact I have always been on social media but didn’t have the know-how or time to fully engage with it. But I knew forced closure was imminent so I decided that I should create more options as soon as possible for my clients.
The lightbulb moment was a slow one to be honest. If anything it was a natural and important progression. I believe in being positive and carrying on. I also felt isolation was going to be mentally difficult for some, so I wanted to bring some fun and be able to let my clients know that I cared and life was different but not over. When one door closes another does open. Social media is a huge door and it was time to open it fully.

Have you come up against any practical issues with this new approach?

The practical issues are expertise and the amount of time it takes when you are not a professional model, and you are not a photographer/ film maker! And most importantly trying to do it without my team. But through it all I grit my teeth and just get on with it.

Can you talk us through a typical day in your life at the moment?

meera kumar lounge lewes

 

Well my day starts about 6 am. I wake up my brain with a walk/run – it keeps me sane and kickstarts my attitude for the day. Then I do the usual emails and goal set for the day. Talking to my clients is also something I endeavour to do. Some are finding life difficult so a friendly chat that makes them laugh by the end of the call I feel is important. The actual shop is a very friendly social place. So I try to keep the social side going where I feel it’s needed. Again, I’m always thinking of interesting things to post on my stories to help clients engage and know we are not alone. Even if just to make them smile. I explore fresh creative ideas for business going forward. Generally, I am mailing out everyday orders as well, so that means dealing with queries on deliveries.
I also seem to be cooking more, and of course cleaning more. By 8 pm I have exhausted my brain so I watch another box set that I haven’t had time to watch!

Is using Instagram as a selling and advertising platform working for you?

Yes it is working, although it is a slow process that takes patience. But through it all I believe in communication, so yes social media is working for me. It keeps the message out there that Lounge of Lewes is here and will be in the future.

lounge of lewes

Thanks so much for these insights, Meera. We hope you and your daughter stay safe and well, and that Lounge of Lewes continues to flourish. For more advice on how to adapt to lockdown using interior design and layout strategies to cope with social distancing, go here and here.

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