Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Charlotte Twin Made

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Charlotte of the awesome Twin Made. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

I keep getting the occasional feeling I caused all this because I really needed a week off – mine was so I could sort my garden out! Well, I got my wish and my garden isn’t looking much different!

In February, at least I think it was February, time is a weird thing right now, Ok, sometime at the beginning of the year my business got flooded, not once but twice! I know, I know, who moves into a basement right next to the Taff.

We were recovering from that, and business was getting back to usual and people started to contact me about the upcoming classes that I host.

The FAQ was: is the class still going ahead? Umm, yes. I started to get worried and made my partner summarise the news to me. Things were getting strange, rumblings of a lockdown like Spain were being whispered about. I started hoping for a clear and specific lockdown of a few weeks. I had loads of shit I could get done and that garden wasn’t sorting itself.

My Birthday was on 19th March, everything we had planned got cancelled. I decided not to go and visit my twin in London. Ed and I wandered into Cardiff City Centre and picked up a lot of wool, some beers and doughnuts. The City felt like a ghost town and the beginning of an episode of Black Mirror.

As the UK Government bumbled its way into a lockdown, my fellow indie businesses were getting in touch as we discussed what to do. I started to cancel the next week of classes and then the next fortnight and then all of April and then reluctantly May’s as I was receiving emails, one by one, cancelling upcoming work, as days passed March dates were cancelled and then April and then before I knew it all the work and workshops I had booked in over the Summer had been cancelled, taking with it my income.

Most people have been amazing and understanding but I had a few demand their deposits refunded, this was heartbreaking as when people pay deposits it all gets used to buy and create kits ready for the workshops and pay things like rent and bills. I offered alternatives but in the end, for my mental health I refunded the few deposits, I was so lucky only a few went this route.

Panic set in. My partner and I are both self employed. He couldn’t carry on Dog Walking and even if he could, most customers didn’t need him as they were now working from home.

I worked through my online shops and took down all physical items. I had a full week of mood swings – manically laughing in the kitchen for no reason, a big old cry in the living room, stopped still in bedroom wondering what the fuckity fuck.

I set up a tip jar on my website, people, friends, family and even strangers were reaching out and offering help. Commissions started coming in, I was so grateful I was regularly bursting into tears. With those came lots and lots of unsolicited business advice – most of which was time consuming, above my skill level or something I already did, I got good at replying: Sure, thanks but they were all energy consuming. I needed to be doing more to help, the feeling of uselessness was setting in. I found the Scrub Hub and got involved in sewing scrubs. I felt useful!

I slowly started to put things back on sale on my website and started creating free downloads: colouring in and craft sheets. I worked on turning my sewing classes into kits – weirdly all stuff on my to-do-list which i just hadn’t got around too. I created guides and hacks. My business was still able to work and I set up a desk on the living room table – the perfect place to keep an eye out from deliveries.

My regular job is teaching people how to sew and make things from my colourful studio in the basement of Nos Da Hostel and Bar. I miss the faces I regularly see and teaching my classes.

My group of friends quickly set up a weekly quiz and soon followed by a family one – I am seeing friends and family far more often and laughing at home hair cuts and living for couples arguing over zoom!

The garden is slowly getting done and I am decorating my window, like a mad lady. Crochet and daily chats with twinny and friends are keeping me sane. I love how easy it is to cycle across Cardiff to deliver orders! We even took a Matisse inspired art class and I am having a go at paper art: Check out WinterCroft Masks and this Paper Prawn by Lisa Lloyd – things I would never have time to do before.

My pals at Green City have been hosting craft clubs which I have loved participating in and will be signing up for more!

Ed has started working for Deliveroo at weekends, a job he likes of elements of, but a gentle reminder: TIP YOUR DELIVER PERSON! They are out there, in a pandemic, delivering you delicious food! He sure misses the dogs and has fully embraced helping out a friend by feeding their guinea pigs!

Each time I say: When things get back to normal, I stop myself as I hope some good changes come out of this! I miss all the beautiful faces and social aspects of my job and I can’t wait to get back to Nos Da for a pint or two, but for now I will keep on keeping on with an occasional cry thrown in.

Stay Safe, Stay Sane, Stay Awesome!

Visit Charlotte and Twin Made – buy her things and keep her in business! Twin Made website | Twin Made instagram | Twin Made Twitter | Twin Made Facebook.

See all the free Twin Made downloads

Charlotte (with the pink hair!) and twin, Kathryn

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