This time last year I was surrounded by family about to head down to watch the fireworks over the waterfront in Hobart, Tasmania. Australia was featuring in world headlines for the horrific bush fires. As we were heading back to the UK there was some mention of corona virus and a few more people wearing face masks in the airports. The day we arrived back home was the first confirmed case in the UK.

After a strange and trying year it has been good to look back on what a year it was. There have been more than a few tears shed and I personally have never had such bigger waves of emotions as this year. But what a year it was for Sandwick Bay candles.

So here are a few things I will remember about 2020:

My fabulous team at Sandwick Bay candles:

These ladies are the heart and soul of my wee business, whether they’re pouring candles, packing orders or just encouraging me I really couldn’t be without them. In 2020 we were incredibly lucky to be in the position to have more people join our team. We had to introduce shift patterns to allow for social distancing in the workshop. But they main thing was that we had each other. We supported each other, gave virtual hugs when needed and were there to talk when the days were incredibly tough and also celebrate the amazing achievements like making a pallet of 3000 candles. Also a special mention to my husband who really does work the hardest behind the scenes – sshh don’t tell him.

Our cat Lilly who loves the water:

Once restrictions allowed we got the kayaks out and hit the water. There is nothing better than being out on the water and our cat Lilly thought the same. If anything else she brought a smile to many a face in the village when she would be seen out on the kayak with us. Then one day she jumped in the water and swam to shore. The Daily Mail and The Sun even got in on spreading that smile which you can read here. I wonder if new addition Tui the dog will enjoy the water…


Outer Hebrides

Supporting local:

With travel restrictions in place and ferry journeys only for essential travel it was looking even tougher for island businesses who rely heavily on tourism. Rhoda Meek from Isle20 started up an amazing marketplace that now has over 500 businesses listed and enables people to go shopping in the Scottish Islands from the comfort of their home. This also showed a huge mind shift in the way people shopped and all we heard people say in the weeks leading up to Christmas was that they were making the conscious decision to support local this year. This attitude of supporting local has probably saved a lot of small businesses.

 

 

That raffle for Bethesda raising over £70,000:

I still can’t believe that happened! What started out as a wee hamper to raise some money for the local hospice Bethesda completely snowballed into the most amazing display of community spirit I have ever seen. You can read more about it here. Business after business stepped up to donate prizes in a time when everyone was struggling to stay afloat. People near and far bought tickets and we were completely overwhelmed by the messages of support which poured in for the hospice. With lockdown restrictions still in place for the foreseeable future it is looking like we will have to do another virtual raffle… So who thinks we can do it bigger and better in 2021!!

 

 

Swimming in the sea helped more than blow the cobwebs away:

I could write a blog post all about the benefits of sea swimming. Little did I know just how much it would mean to me and my mental health. There have been some very hard days this year. Crying for no reason, feeling completely hopeless, loss of motivation but mostly it has been the homesickness I have found crushing at times. The thought of not being able to just get on a plane and go home has been tough! Borders have been closed and with that goes the flexibility of living on the other side of the world to those I care about the most. So getting in the cold Hebridean water helped a lot. Norma at Immerse Hebrides has grown the most fantastic supportive group of sea swimmers and I don’t think she realises how much we need it and her. In the water we are stripped back bare. Nothing else seems to matter. If there is a time to start something new in 2021 make it sea swimming.

Supporting small business is a bit of thing for me

Hard to believe it was only March this year that I was in Birmingham meeting up with Theo Paphitis. Being a part of Small Business Sunday has introduced me to some wonderful other small businesses and you will find many of them on my shelves in the workshop – Michelle from Ascent Bath & Body and Greg from the Bottled Baking Co. are just a few. I love being able to tell people the story behind the product and that there are so many amazing small businesses out there so we don’t have to just shop on Amazon. I love searching for and finding the extra’s that go in the candle subscription box and have discovered some amazing people and new products. I have also started supporting an artist by putting a postcard in the subscription box. If you want a sneak peek at next month’s artist check this out.

So what has 2020 shown us…?

It has shown us that we are spending more time at home and that we can work flexibly – working from home can be as productive as working in the office. Whilst we are working from home we are thinking of others and this has been seen in the amount of gifts we have sent out. The messages we were writing are so heartfelt it has made us realise how even the smallest candle with a note can brighten someone’s day. It has shown that even virtually we can meet some amazing people and friendships can grow stronger. I am appreciative of knowing the lovely Rosie at Rosemarie’s Pantry (if you got the December candle subscription box you would have enjoyed her delicious shortbread!) and meeting Therese from Small Business Collaborative. Both have helped me grow personally and in business.

What will 2021 look like:

Who knows! But what I do know is that being healthy and surrounded by family and friends (even if it is virtually) makes me happy. To be honest I have to stop baking if the healthy part is going to work. There are exciting times coming to Sandwick Bay candles as well as a big birthday for me to celebrate in February. Also look out for a YouTube channel, gift boxes, exclusive fragrances in our subscription boxes and being inspired even more by island life.

Thank you

I’d like to finish off by saying a massive thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings, to my wonderful customer’s where every purchase really does make a difference and to my stockists who are an extension of the SBC family and most importantly to my family for keeping me real. There a lot to be said for fellow kiwi Jacinda Ardern and what she has done in New Zealand. She emphasises kindness and to tackle our common problems we must recognise our common humanity. Even in the grimmest of circumstances a shift in perspective can create startling change.

So if we can be anything in 2021 be kind, mostly to ourselves but also to others.

I would love to know what you think about this blog post and leave me a comment below