The Impact of COVID-19 and the Decision to Expand our Business Model
The impact of COVID-19 on our business happened quickly and efficiently. Like I mentioned in our “Part 2” piece from last week, we were consistently selling anywhere from 4-8 pajamas per day, and that quickly went to about 0-1 per day as the wheels of our US economy came to a screeching halt. From a business standpoint, I felt at a total loss as far as knowing what to do with our existing marketing channels. It felt really inauthentic and inappropriate to be asking people to spend money on pajamas as they were losing their jobs or getting furloughed - so I just sort of took a pause with that side of the business. I was also notified that Amazon FBA would no longer be accepting non-essential items into their warehouses for the time being in order to keep up with their logistics and processing orders of essential items. To be honest, that part was kind of a relief. If you remember from last week’s post, I was working to transition the business away from being primarily dependent on FBA, and so this made that decision and transition much easier and forced my hand.
At that point, we decided to use the time that we weren’t selling so much to get our fulfillment processes ironed out on the backend. We use Shopify as COO BABY’s website shopping platform, which made it extremely easy. I ordered all of our shipping supplies (think labels, a label printer, shipping bags, and thank you cards), then took some tutorials on how to use the platform and fulfill our orders through Shopify, and that was it! It’s really simple - basically an order comes in, I get a push notification on my phone where I can click on it, find out all of the necessary info, buy a shipping label, have it printed, write a thank you card, and send it off. My favorite part is writing the thank you cards - I truly appreciate every single order and love taking those few minutes each time an order comes in to express that to every customer and make a brief connection with them.
Fortunately, my husband and I both have full time jobs, and so the pajama sales were not something we were dependent on for our livelihood. This also made it easy for me to not put pressure on myself or the business to bounce back during this strange, unprecedented time. In addition to working on the backend of the business, I decided that it was a perfect opportunity to also start putting more focus on the other piece of our mission that I hadn’t spent as much time on - building a judgement free / safe space and community for parents to connect and share their stories.
MAMA HUB was something that we had been tossing around as an idea for several months, even prior to COVID. I had felt such a release writing up my own stories and sharing them on COO BABY’s blog - and I really enjoyed the process of taking the time to think through my experiences, typing them out, and publishing them. Getting feedback from other new moms that the stories were resonating with them was also fulfilling in a way I had never imagined. I wanted to expand on the idea of that, but I didn’t want the blog to only be a compilation of my own experiences. It was so important to me that other moms could go through the very cathartic experience of writing things down, sharing them, and then connecting with others who had gone through something similar. This was something that some bloggers were already doing with their own content, as well as editors or writers for mom-focused or parenting publications, but I didn’t see many places where everyday moms were also included in that group. Not everyone feels comfortable starting their own blog, or went to school for writing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have stories to tell or that other people wouldn’t benefit from hearing them.
I decided that we’d start slow and I’d feel it out to begin with, because I wasn’t sure if this feeling I had would resonate with other people, too. I started with a post on our Instagram Stories asking for moms who were interested in sharing their stories - to send them into me. They could send me one story, five stories, twenty stories, however many they wanted to (or had time to write). From there we would read through and organize the submissions, and then start sharing pieces on our blog (which we decided to name MAMA HUB).
The stories and submissions we’ve received since starting MAMA HUB in May have been nothing short of life changing for me to read and a true honor to publish. We’ve heard from moms who’ve had to deliver their baby during COVID, we’ve heard from pregnant moms who have spouses in the military, we’ve heard what it’s like to raise a child with developmental delays - all of which are very different experiences and stories, however they all share a common thread...strength, love, sacrifice, encouragement, resilience...the list goes on and on. I’ve gotten countless messages from both the contributors and readers over the past 2-3 months - and the message is clear - moms want to hear from other moms. They want to support each other, lift each other up, offer a shoulder to cry on, and it makes us feel really good when we don’t feel so alone in our experiences. The numbers prove it too - we’ve gotten 10x the number of unique visitors to our website every single month since launching MAMA HUB, and it continues to grow month over month.
Even if sales aren’t where they used to be due to COVID - that is okay. They’ll get back there. Because this other piece of the business - this other part of our mission to support moms and give them a voice - is really evolving into a beautiful platform all on it’s own. That likely wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t taken a pause on our product sales.
With that, we’ve made the decision to expand that part of our mission and turn MAMA HUB into a real website and platform all its own - called (you guessed it) - “Motherhood for Me.” A place where moms can be seen, heard, connected with, and celebrated. A place where you can go to find a greater community - where no judgement, lectures, or mom-shaming is allowed. A place where we can all get a better understanding of what “Motherhood for Me” looks and feels like for each of us.
We’ll be sharing more information on the MFM website and expected launch date next week. Please stay tuned and spread the word! xoxo