Real life story, Spiritual, Work, Career, Finances

Melissa’s Pandemic Palava – a story of faith and resourcefulness

I  have been running my own creative business for over 12 years I absolutely love it. I started out with my own jewellery line but gradually moved into creative education, developing my own team and running workshops and clubs through schools and centres across the city. As one of my main clients is schools, at the start of the pandemic my contracts were all cut short and then cancelled until further notice, due to schools and centres closing. This meant my main business activity had now come to an abrupt end, with no certainty of resuming in the near future. 

At this point it looked like those running small business like mine had drawn the short straw! Employees were told they would be on furlough (which I was very grateful for, as it meant my husband kept most of his income), but what about us? How would our businesses and livelihoods survive? A slight worry did come over me, but I remember standing in my living room and saying out loud “we will not survive in this period – we will thrive!” Over the next twelve months, I saw so much of God’s provision for myself and my family – and had many great learning experiences, but will focus on just 4!

1.) Do it Online! – A Lesson in Listening and Obeying!

Before the pandemic I had been working on a new educational course I had created for children and young people. I worked on it for months and put my all into creating it. I approached many people and organisations with the course idea and after months of sowing my seeds, I saw nothing. I was frustrated. I cried out to God about it because I truly believed He had inspired the course idea – but couldn’t understand why I was seeing no fruit from my labour! After pouring out my frustrations, I decided to listen to some gospel music on my iPad. As I went to select the song I wished to play, an ad came up. It was a lady talking about the success of the online course she created. At that moment I felt God was nudging me about making the course an online course. He had told me this before, but I dismissed the idea. The course was mostly in the form of PowerPoint presentations with a PDF handbook. It had taken me ages to create it and I spent a few sleepless nights perfecting it. I was not about to spend more time undoing all of that work..besides, I had no idea how to create an online course…

As this second nudge came I said out loud “My God, how am I supposed to do that? I don’t have any idea how to create an online course and I also don’t even have the software” 

I was then prompted to check my business website package. When I did, I found that in the package that I had already paid for, there was software included for making online courses! I had no excuse…I now had to get to work and follow God’s inspiration. I did just that!

To cut the long story short, I launched my new online course one month before the pandemic started. The day after launching I woke up to find customers had bought my course overnight. Throughout the pandemic, because children and young people were at home, many parents bought my course as an interesting project for their children to work on. It was amazing to refresh my email inbox and find that people were buying the course and working on it, recommending it to others too! I had now created a passive income! It all made sense why my initial efforts were not bearing fruit. God was trying to lead me onto a path that would ultimately be more fruitful.

2.) Money Behind the Mask!

My husband is a talented tailor, shirtmaker and machinist. During the first few months of the pandemic, he was furloughed. While he was at home I discussed with him the idea of making fabric masks to sell. His response was “who is going to pay to wear a mask?” It sounded like a silly idea to him at the time, but a few weeks later the idea of wearing fabric masks was being heavily discussed in the media and companies started making them. My husband was contracted by a company to make a bulk order of masks, but was first asked to create samples. When he made the samples I took pictures of them and posted them on his social media. Within an hour we were contacted with several orders from people on our social media. 

Being a shirtmaker, my husband had a large number of cotton fabrics at home, so we decided to make our own face masks and sell them to people directly. We posted on our social media accounts and also informed people in our local area. The response was overwhelming. My husband was inundated with orders. We had local businesses ordering from us, we had people recommending us to their friends and family members, we had other companies promoting our work on their social media. We had people ordering from us in bulk so that they could give face mask gifts to others. From our local area alone, we had so many orders within just one week, that I had to create a database to keep track of everything. At one point I had to stop promoting our masks, because my husband was staying up throughout the night to fulfil orders! We truly did not have room to receive, but we were incredibly grateful because the masks brought in a second income for us.

3.) Virtual Creativity  – A Window of Opportunity

Towards the end of last year I was inspired to approach an organisation that I have worked with for many years, to inform them that I can run creative online workshops for their clients. When I was inspired with the idea, I was on my way out to run errands, so I told myself that I would email the organisation later on in the day – but something was pushing me to do it immediately – so I stopped what I was doing and sent an email…30 minutes later the manager called me and said “You are a God-send! I was told by my director that I need to offer workshops to parents while they are home – and I was wondering what to do! You contacted me at the exact right time!” 

She then booked me for 5 weeks and paid me more than double my usual rate! After the 5 week period, she extended the booking for 10 more weeks. I posted about these classes on social media and this led to another paid opportunity, providing families with creative learning and care packs. 

4.) Changing the Niche – A “SMart” Move!

I run a children’s party planning business with my sister and before the pandemic our database was filled with bookings. We entered into 2020 being “booked and busy!” However, this all came to an abrupt halt when Covid struck! After taking some time to adapt to our new restrictions, we turned our focus to online parties. Many parents, though no longer able to have a traditional party, still wanted their children to be able to celebrate with friends, so, like many entertainment companies, we offered zoom parties. This then led to us offering virtual Christmas and end-of-year parties to corporate organisations. This was new territory for us, but we were grateful for the exposure as this led us to quickly discover a new niche…Companies were now looking for interesting virtual team building exercises to keep their staff members motivated while working remotely! We offered a range of fun games and activities that could be hosted by us and completed within a short period of time. This really took of and is still taking off! Being forced to adapt has created brand new opportunities and given us lots of new ideas! We have now adapted our niche to include more than children’s parties.

These are just a few of the open doors and opportunities we have had throughout this period. There are many more! What I have learnt in this period is:

i.) Our God is the ultimate Entrepreneur! He is the Creator of Creativity and because of this, He is never short on ideas. His ideas are the best and if we want to prosper, it is extremely important to be attentive to His voice

ii.) God is willing to help and answer all of those who truly believe in Him and ask for His help!

iii.) God will not bless those who are doing nothing! At the start of this pandemic, I felt I had drawn the short straw as a business person, but I quickly saw that having an entrepreneurial mindset is what has helped myself and my family to thrive during this period. We haven’t lacked anything – and that is because we were quick to act on new ideas. We were resourceful – and God was able to bless our resourcefulness!

I just wanted to share this with you our expectations for the past year have been exceeded. Not only has God more than provided for us, but He enabled us to have quality time as a family, without having to worry about anything. 

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3 thoughts on “Melissa’s Pandemic Palava – a story of faith and resourcefulness”

  1. Beautiful testimony absolutely love it and I can agree God has indeed provided for us all during this pandemic#OurGodIsFaithful


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