Life In Lockdown: Karen Wilson, co-owner of Paper Salad

None of us will ever forget this period in history and the upheaval it has caused to our personal and business lives – from our mental wellbeing to our financial situation. While ‘it’ is far from over, with lockdown easing slightly our thoughts can tentatively turn to the months ahead.

‘The new normal’ is not a phrase Karen Wilson (pictured above) and Claire Williams (pictured below), her fellow co-owner of Paper Salad really likes. “We very much liked the old normal and would like it back!” exclaimed Karen as she shared some of her and Claire’s musings on how Covid-19 has impacted on their working and personal lives.

Above: Claire Williams, co-owner of Paper Salad in a mask made out of fabric printed with the publisher’s designs.
Above: Claire Williams, co-owner of Paper Salad in a mask made out of fabric printed with the publisher’s designs.

What has life in lockdown been like for you?

“Lockdown life, in actual fact, it has got better as time has gone on. Business wise, we have been able to work all the way through the lockdown for which we are grateful. We furloughed half of our staff so, needless to say, it has been much quieter in the office which has enabled us to spend time designing with almost no interruptions.

We have also been able to sort out our warehouse so it is the tidiest it has been for years, so when the lockdown really starts to lift, we should be raring to go!!!”

What has been the worst thing about it?

“We are really missing our industry friends. We were so looking forward to PG Live (originally planned to start today and now the September postponed date has just been cancelled due to the effects of the pandemic) and all our other industry social events. We can’t wait for these to start happening again.

Hair has also been a major issue for both of us! I usually visit the hairdressers every six weeks and Claire every three. When we all get out of this be prepared to see me with dark hair and Claire with blonde hair!

Home life has been a mixture of good and bad. We are missing our friends and family terribly. I have a new grandson that I have been unable to see which is hard and Claire has had to entertain a two and half year old while juggling work and childcare with her husband.”

Above: Paper Salad’s Karen Wilson (centre) with Love It’s co-owners, Amanda and Will Oscroft at last June’s PG Live.
Above: Paper Salad’s Karen Wilson (centre) with Love It’s co-owners, Amanda and Will Oscroft at last June’s PG Live.

What has been the best thing about it?

“The good things have been the extra time we have had at home and all the money we have saved as there has been nothing to spend it on!

I have been doing a lot of walking (at the time of writing I haven’t been in a car for nearly 10 weeks) as I can walk to work.”

Do you have any new-found skills/guilty pleasures?

“Claire definitely has newfound skills at being a nursery teacher, a baker, playmate and learning every episode of Peppa Pig off by heart!”

Above: Paper Salad’s Claire Williams is now a real expert on Peppa Pig.
Above: Paper Salad’s Claire Williams is now a real expert on Peppa Pig.

How are you approaching the loosening of the lockdown?

“We are starting to see the easing of the lockdown in small steps and will react to the changes accordingly.”

What do you think the new normal will be like in the coming months for our sector – the key challenges and opportunities? 

“Orders from independents have been seeping through, but we have no idea how long it will take to get back to normal (or the ‘new normal’ as everyone is saying), but we will adapt. We are used to change and see it as a challenge.

Among these is not knowing how many independents, high street retailers and multiples will be around at the end of all this, and also how long will it take for them to start ordering again? It could be a while. But where there are challenges there will be opportunities and we will be ready and waiting if these opportunities land in our direction!”

Above: Some rainbow cheer from a Paper Salad Hoopla card.
Above: Some rainbow cheer from a Paper Salad Hoopla card.

Top: Paper Salad’s co-owner Karen Wilson in a mask made out of fabric printed with the publisher’s designs.

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