It was a most enlightening experience, catching a glimpse into the life of Kate Shephard during the run up to COVID-19 and the subsequent Lockdown.
Described as a traumatic and transformative experience, Kate paints the picture of the very real, up-close and personal issues she has had to face with family members contracting COVID-19. coupled with the decisions about the future of her business she had run for 15 years.
2 Weeks prior to lockdown having weighed up the alternatives, risks and probabilities, Kate decided to close down the business she had started at 18 years of age and had kept afloat, through water crises, recessions, load shedding, the collapse of the economy, new branches, and a brand new venture about to take off in London. The decision was quick and brutal, as her business had been her everything.
In their state of shock, 3 days into Lockdown, the family put their heads together and decided to make masks. They worked hard and fast and in no time it grew from small scale to large scale. With old contacts, clients and social traction the masks took wings. They began outsourcing the making of the masks, to support the locals as well as the ladies in townships. They then formed a scheme of donations for the masks which was the primary reason for starting the business, and are presently working with schools, big businesses and corporates to amp the level of donations.
Kates present norm is very different to what it was, saying sleep is something they can only “dream” of. Creating a start up during lockdown, with no assistance with the kids, the endless cleaning, feeding and schooling, coupled with no boundaries associated with clients due to “no real working hours” meant they lost a little control. Online Exercising, which she had done for years, fortunately made gyming easy.
Regarding social media…..Kate has this to say: “I don’t scroll, its dangerous to get sucked into the comments section, as it just forces your mind to reel in more ways than you need”.
Kate sees the mask business as forging new communities, but shes aware, that masks are not the future. In spite of that, together, they continue to build the business as if it were, succeeding in creating a business, roots up, to sustain them for the past month and most importantly, raise enough funds to provide food for the staff below the breadline, whom she had been forced to let go, means the world to her.
Kate initially believed her power was her business, and being a business woman, led to her feeling defined by her success, however, and when it was all taken away she felt lost. Unsure of who she was, where she was going, and what to do next. Kate says she still dosnt have all the answers, but shes realized the strength is within her, and that, in retrospect, its her personality and her soul that define her, not her business and that she could rise again! Kate had thought that her design businesses were great because they had evolved with the process of time, but has proved what she can do with a simple piece of cloth and some seriously good people…
Kate says: “I must just apply that to the future. Whatever it holds. I suppose I was mostly afraid of the unknown, what was next… over the past week or so I’m seeing, that not only do I create what is next, but that I can do it…from the bottom of the pit, from the depths of nothing and losing everything I can even build in that. Ive discovered there is not much to be afraid of. (Except maybe spiders, and that will never change)”.