My COVID-19 Experience

WHAT DID I DO DURING COVID-19

I took the opportunity to stop and reset.  Understandably there was a lot of noise in the world and it was going to be hard to cut through.  I made the conscious decision not to worry about sales during the first few months because I guess I assumed I would get through - I had that self belief having been through tough times in the past.  My plan was to be ready coming out of the other side and here we are and I am ready.  

Today is the day I launch the consolidation of my brand, my new way forward and this my new website.

So maybe some recent history.

I started making a change three years ago in April 2017 the I had the exhibition called Attrition- Natures Wear and Tear.  I had no idea that three years on I have a business model entirely different to the one I had then.  To stay current I had to adapt and change  find something that would inspire me again.  Well over the three years I did, I have and I am.

The problem was I was continually changing over that time and at no stage did I know where I was going or what my plan was for the future.  In fact I don’t really think I knew what I was doing the next day.  So my Covid-19 isolation plan was to accept I would have no customers, no staff and maybe no future unless I made one.

I think it really started in earnest when I became the IT guru for the business (more than usual I guess) and I literally wiped every computer, laptop and iPad and reinstalled the operating systems so I had a clean slate.  I must admit it was a bit scary because you always wonder what you have forgotten to get off and you lose it.  I did lose all my actions and presets in Adobe suite but that was about all so I could live that.  

Now I had a clean slate the rebuild could begin.  Regrettably I had to do what a lot of bosses had to do and that was let staff go and that leaves a ugly feeling in the stomach especially when you have made promises to get through and keep everyone, then you wake up and realise it is going to be worse than you thought and to be honest its actually been a lot worse than that.  But I used that negative feeling and energy and turned it around to do better.  Between the plan to change the business for the better and to begin my role as Alderman for the City of Darwin the hours were long and draining.  I even remember saying to Karen (my fiancé) I don’t need the economy to start up again I’m not ready - I have too much to do. 

By the time the borders had shut my parents had driven up from Perth in there Avan because I said back then that the NT was going to be the safest place in Australia.  I never realised just how true that was going to be.  However after nearly four months of my parents living with us I was strongly reminded I left home 30 years ago to join the Royal Australian Navy.  (Just kidding its great have them in the safest place on earth.)

So between all this commitments Covid-19 lockdown was the busiest period I have had for a very long time.  The work behind the scenes was extensive, solid and strong with the belief I was going to be ready for the bounce when it happened.  I knew I had to keep busy because my little man Mitchell was going miss his April visit to Karen and I plus probably his July visit and the connection to my son would be through the iPad screen, which might be bouncing on the trampoline or left in a corner with me looking at the wall as he wanders off to do something and then I hear his mummy go where is daddy.  “Oh he is over in the corner - I‘ll go and get him”. Gotta love technology.  Can’t wait until I see him for real again but I know I am not alone in that space I'm lucky Julie (Mitchell's mummy) is awesome with him and Karen and I it works well.

Once the computers had been reset it was time to look at all the memberships, banks accounts, membership cards and do a cull.  Streamline was the key to moving forward - lean and keen. I charged our gallery manager, Sophie, with being the grants and assistance officer so all that was in place and within no time at all we had all bases covered with what we were entitled to and I started to think more than one day at a time for survival.  My target was May 2021 and I was going to endue potentially three wet seasons back to back and let me say getting through one is hard enough let alone three.  I knew if we survived this pandemic as a nation it would be right when the build up was going to hit and we would be competing with the rest of Australia for the local dollar and that would be a hard run.  So survival until May 2021 was the goal.  Once I had my head around that I was clear to focus on being creative.

I took time out to create a new studio at home where I could experiment.  I learnt some new skills on the computer and put them to use in my new works I was going to create.  I even took time to get airborne over my favourite place - Bynoe Harbour when I saw 200 plus turtles in the waters around Bare Sand Island I knew I was in a good place.  Time to create, be fresh be exciting and challenge myself because I didn’t really have enough on already.

Maybe the biggest change was the actual products.  I needed to get a better support range for the Elevated Range and improve a number of aspects of my merchandising range.  Eventually after lots of speed bumps I landed on an Australian textile printer, a Darwinian fashion designer, some new products and most importantly a very tight and niche brand that would focus me going forward.

 

Some of the products I have created are silk scrunchies, twilly scarves, bow ties, ties and linen homewares.  I even have a concept, yet to be realised, for my wall art from the $100 price bracket.  This concept is exciting and I can’t wait to get onto it.

 

What is interesting when you stop and look at your business and make a few changes and get some new suppliers suddenly a brand and a story of what you are about can become much clearer.  For me it did and I had it was quite simple.  Be Australian, be Territorian, be boutique, be bespoke, be different and be me.

 

So the Paul Arnold story moving forward is to be boutique, bespoke and cater to the astute buyer with a range of products from wearable art, homewares and wall art with a customer service to match, its all about small and seasonal runs that are 100% Australian made and produced with an emphasis on the environment and sustainability.

 

Today I launch my consolidated brand, vision, website and way forward.  I used COVID-19 to launch to the next step.  Come with me on the next part of my journey its going to be fun.