Blessings Olaniyi’s article
Salute Olaniyi (GP)
Resurgence: This collection of essays, selected by Karra Price, Literary Arts Officer for the National Cultural Foundation, presents the opinions and observations of Barbadians involved in a range of everyday activities.
This article explores how entrepreneurship dealt with a shifting economic environment in the midst of a pandemic.
The COVID-19 outbreak struck our little island of Barbados like a bolt from the blue. It brought about a lot of changes, some of which will pass away with time and some of which won’t. Tourism, which is a significant part of Barbados’ economy, was essentially shut down overnight thanks to COVID, emphasizing the importance of local customers and the need for Barbadians to support one another.
Even though the COVID limits are being progressively lifted and the world is attempting to advance, it is obvious that life may never be the same again. I believed that the pandemic would have a detrimental effect on my accessories company, Ayola by Blessing Olaniyi, as an entrepreneur, notably as a fashion accessory designer, owing to the lockdowns and people’s altered personal budgets. Unexpectedly, it wasn’t! In reality, possibilities and business have expanded, laying the groundwork for a more resilient economy after the epidemic.
Of course, growing the business at this time required much more than just making handbags. The most important thing I took away from my experience—among many others—was the value of human connection, which, as technology is used more and more, appears to be eroding quickly.
A new But I discovered that, when used intelligently, technology can be a fantastic tool for developing client connections. This lesson underscores the reality that, even if nothing can replace the delight of face-to-face human connection, having an online company presence is crucial in establishing the “new normal” of communication from both a commercial and personal aspect.
Understanding the significance of the Bajan proverb “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” was another lesson acquired. This must have struck a chord with many other companies as well, leading us to change course and look for fresh and inventive methods of selling goods and services online. For instance, the number of online stores where clients could see and buy a wide range of goods from the comfort of their homes increased. This concept proved to be effective since it was practical and secure for both vendors and customers.
The emphasis of business during the crisis has to drastically change from the product and the bottom line to the customer experience; how to cater to the consumer, how to make sure they are heard, seen, and completely happy. My company has always included this idea. Ayola, after all, in Xhosa means “something that makes you joyful.”
But doing this on the internet has become the New Normal. Customer choice is the key to this personalized shopping experience’s success, according to Ayola. This entails letting the consumer choose the materials, patterns, and other aspects of their bag, creating each bag they order as a unique, bespoke item that they helped design, and, probably most importantly, paying attention to customer input to create an enhanced final product. One of the few good impacts of COVID, this technique has become a cornerstone in the basis of my company and is still in use today.
So how does business operate after a pandemic? As we resume face-to-face encounters, how would I describe the new New Normal? In Barbados, however, our culture lays the stage for such change. A emphasis on establishing personal connections with clients is of the highest significance and, in a restriction-free environment, now provides greater chance for company development. Here, we love to chat and engage; we enjoy the feeling of community. The process of adjusting to the new normal has been gradual and has required careful preparation and execution. For businesspeople like me, the reopening of the island happened in two stages.
The first was the reopening of boutiques, which enabled consumers to rediscover in-store shopping and become reacquainted with the ability to feel and touch products in a secure environment established by upholding pandemic procedures and social distance. The return of live events followed, which created the possibility for Pop Up markets. While many individuals in this post-pandemic atmosphere are still wary, others are happy to engage in human engagement. As a result, these activities play a significant role in fostering a sense of community by allowing business owners to communicate personally with clients and one another.
Face-to-face consultations are invaluable. It’s wonderful to see clients’ cheeks light up when they find “the ideal purse” or realize how well someone else will accent their favorite outfit.
A new In order to provide the ideal shopping experience, this new New Normal balances features introduced during the pandemic, namely the use of technology and virtual places, with in-person activities. I am making the most of possibilities to work with other small firms, organize and attend live events, and form relationships with people in the fashion sector. After being apart for so long, these activities seem a bit strange.
The new New Normal is still being completely unveiled as I write this, but I am enjoying the rocky road ahead in search of it. I am looking at potential new income sources to protect the company while paying careful attention to the customers’ ever-changing demands and desires. Our thoughts will need time to adapt to the normal, which currently feels irregular and, in some cases, just plain incorrect, while we recover from the epidemic. Many people are still unsure about whether it has ended. Is it secure? Will there be another pandemic? These thoughts often cross my mind as an entrepreneur and affect a lot of my choices, particularly financial ones.
The path of an entrepreneur is arduous and difficult, requiring perseverance, devotion, and the capacity to overcome unforeseen challenges. The epidemic has been a genuine test of entrepreneurial acumen from a business standpoint, and as we come out of the tunnel of isolation, the light I see is optimism.
We were all meant to be our brothers’ keepers, as the epidemic successfully served as a reminder. It assisted in reviving the genuine old-fashioned Bajan sense of community, which had previously seemed to be on the verge of dying. In order to keep us strong and resilient, I hope that this spirit will continue to be honored in both our professional and interpersonal interactions. It defines us as Bajans.