Every generation has a moment it will never forget — a moment that impacted us collectively and indelibly as a nation. For this generation, it is the day we realized that COVID-19 was not a distant concept causing us mild anxiety from the other side of the world. It is the day we realized that the virus had reached our shores, our cities, and our communities. It is the day that children were sent home from school. Basketball games were cancelled. Restaurants were emptied.
On Friday, March 13, 2020, amid rising cases of COVID-19 and the first reported instance of community transmission, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a statewide emergency. The state of Texas — and the world — came to a collective stop.
The Pandemic Pause
“For a moment, I held my breath,” says Custom Drapery Design owner and lead designer Brenda Baxter. “There were so many unknowns: How can I protect myself and my family? How can I protect my clients? How can I protect my team? I worried I would lose my livelihood.”
“I gave myself the weekend to pause. I learned as much as I could and collected my thoughts,” she shares. “Then, we got to work.”
“We immediately regrouped as a team Monday morning. We met over videoconference to get organized and huddle together as a work family.”
“Before talking work, we talked about how we were all doing, how our weekend was, etc. It was important to recognize the heavy emotions and potential fears during this time. We needed to support each other professionally, but also personally.”
I have an amazing, resilient team,” says Brenda proudly. “After watching industry webinar after webinar with coaches and seasoned industry professionals for insight and shared ideas, I came up with a plan. My team embraced it and, together, we put into action.”
Our first step was to promote a “We Are Open” campaign on social media. We created a quick promotional video from our homes.
The message? We are prepared to be creative and continue to design for your home via Zoom, FaceTime, etc. “Together, we can do this,” we emphasized.
The campaign worked! Within a week, calls were coming in. Clients at home — with extra time and suspended travel and entertainment budgets — realized now was the time to address nagging design needs.
Our team mailed clients our design sketches with fabric samples and then presented the design project via videoconference.
Remote Possibilities with Ready-Made Drapery Panels and Custom Hardware
With this new emphasis on remote design, we also found our reach expanding to out-of-state clients — a silver lining! We worked hard to expand our e-commerce business, shipping ready-made panels and custom hardware across the country.
Brenda (with the help of her suddenly home-bound, college-age daughter) created numerous social media presentations to inspire as well as inform. Brenda shared her passion for design through demonstrations of motorized “smart” blinds that raise and lower on your schedule. She exhibited the range of drapery hardware available to suit modern and traditional tastes. And she mixed and matched trims to show these touches accessorize fabrics just as jewelry add dazzle to clothing. These conversational and engaging videos brought Brenda and her design team into the homes of potential clients and kept the sales momentum going.
Custom Drapery Designs continues to post beautiful content to social media, engaging with our audience and building on our substantial following — not just domestically, but internationally. Our Pinterest account regularly attracts close to 500,000 views each month from those seeking inspiration for their homes.
Safety has been paramount. Throughout the pandemic, everyone at Custom Drapery Designs was required to wear masks, and air and germ purifiers were installed in the design office. We participated in national #MaskUp campaigns so that clients and partners could be assured that we were safely operating according to CDC guidelines.
The precautions were successful, and our firm has maintained a 100% healthy work environment. This month, we celebrated that all of our designers and installers are fully vaccinated!
Together, We Can Do This
Today, as the pandemic wanes, we look back on our transition with wonder and pride. We not only survived but flourished. More and more new clients are calling, trusting the effectiveness of safe protocols.
But it was not the new clients that kept us going these past 14 months, notes Brenda.
“We were blessed to have stellar repeat clients who were not traveling so spent this budget and more on total renovations and updates,” says Brenda. “We are forever thankful and appreciative of our repeat client ‘family’.”
To everyone in our client family — the new and the repeat clients — who entrusted us with their homes and their projects … thank you.
Together, we did this.