With lockdown easing, the flexi-furloughing scheme in operation and more of the greeting card community now back to work, PG Buzz checked in Jo Wilson, founder and creative maestro of Derbyshire-based Dandelion Stationery to get her take on how the ‘new normal’ is panning out and what she thinks it ‘tastes’ like.
What is new ‘now’ like for you and Dandelion Stationery?
“For Dandelion so far we have found it fairly easy to adjust. We recently moved to bigger premises, so we have lots of space – social distancing has not been an issue (we just dig out the megaphone when we want to chat!). We have staggered working patterns so that there is usually only a maximum of two people in the office at any one time. Most of our staff have been on furlough, though some started returning from this month. All of our employees have childcare commitments of some sort, so we are having to be a bit creative with this, such as allowing people to work in the evening when their partner gets home to take over childcare. I have had my younger daughter in work with me on many occasions over the last few months – she has used our meeting table to sit and do schoolwork! It’s all a bit strange, (and a bit boring actually when you are in the office alone), but our team WhatsApp has kept the giggles coming.”
What positive stuff has come out of this period?
“Having the chance and time to look at creating new stuff has been great. Often the day-to-day can get overtaken by admin and other things, so having time to do what I love (which is creating stuff) has been fab.”
Below: As part of her creative outpouring, Jo has designed a new range of giftwrap (eight designs, printed onto 110gsm fully recyclable uncoated paper). Here is a little video made to launch them:
What have been the significant happenings in the business of late?
“The lease on our former building expired in May, but we knew this many months in advance, and had great plans in place to move early May. However, when lockdown hit, and all staff went on furlough in March this gave us quite a challenge. We basically had myself and my husband trying to move an office and a warehouse. We did about a trillion trips between the two buildings using a (small) Berlingo van and a Mini Cooper. There was some matrimonial friction at times!”
How do you reckon will things pan out?
“I wish I knew. It feels very hard to make long term plans at the moment. We are taking each month as it comes. Some of the shops we supply were bloody amazing during lockdown – hugely creative in finding new ways to get their products to market, such as offering free local deliveries, getting websites set up in record time, selling via Facebook and social media etc. Others, such as Red Card, have embarked on creating charity projects to help local communities.
The long term feels a bit unknown currently, but in the meantime Dandelion will just keep doing what we are doing, and help to support our stockists as best we can.”
What would you say is the taste of the ‘new normal’?
“It has a slight tang of Brussels sprouts.”
Top: Ted, Dandelion Stationery’s head of security, taking his role very seriously.