How are wedding suppliers coping with the current health crisis? Part two.

In my last blog post I talked to Trixie from Libertii Beau make up and David Fox, next lets meet musicians Jaya and Sarah from Chapel Hill Duo and see how they are getting on.

How has Covid-19 affected your business and how have you managed the inevitable postponements?

“Like many others in the performing arts industry, we have taken a massive hit financially as a result of the CV-19 crisis. Although we play for all manner of events throughout the year, we earn most of our income by playing at weddings during the summer months. Due to the lockdown we have had well over half of our yearly bookings cancelled/postponed. Fortunately, we’ve been able to successfully move the majority of these to future dates, so we are very happy about that! Of course, this will have a knock-on effect as well as we will be losing out on future bookings with future dates being snapped up by couples rescheduling from this year.

It eventually got to the point where we were less concerned about the financial implications, we just wanted to do our best to help them find a new date! We’ve done our best to stay with them throughout the process and offer suggestions and a sympathetic ear when needed!”

What are you doing to keep your business healthy during the lockdown?

“The first week or two was basically spent doing ‘damage control’, we pretty much spent the whole time emailing and on the phone to people. It was only when the mad rush of postponements calmed down that we were able to stop and think about ‘next steps’ for the business.  The stress and anxiety had had a big impact on our creative output and we, at first, found it very difficult just to look at our instruments! So, we focussed our efforts on walking, cooking and baking – a lot of baking!

A turning point was when we were asked by a friend, the Master of Music at St. Wulfram’s Church in Grantham, if we would be willing to record a little ‘virtual concert’ video for him to send to his choir members (ever since the lock down members had been volunteering to record little concerts for the entertainment of the other members and to help maintain a sense of community).

We came up with the idea to ask the choir for requests from our song list and it was a huge success! We shared the video on our Chapel Hill Duo YouTube channel and had an overwhelmingly positive response on all of our social media pages, with more requests coming in left, right and centre. It was so nice to feel like we were making people happy with our music again that we decided to make it a weekly event.


What advice would you give to others to keep themselves motivated and optimistic during lockdown?

“Mental & physical health are always a good place to start when it comes to battling something like this lock down. Do your best to get in one physical activity and one ‘feel good’ activity a day. The ‘feel good’ activity can be anything like baking, colouring, watching TV, playing xbox, facetiming a friend, having a bubble bath, a cheeky G&T… anything that allows you to feel safe and in your comfort zone (mine’s reading and Sarah’s is crocheting and watching Star Trek!)

For us it’s all about our ‘safe place’; sometimes it’s to go for a long walk, sometimes it’s to cook/bake, read, crochet etc. We keep checking in with each other throughout the day to see how we’re doing and to see if we need to adjust our approach to the day at all.”

This pandemic has given many people the opportunity to reassess goals and ambitions when the world gets back to normal , what will your goals be moving forward (can be business or personal)?

“The pandemic is interesting from a business perspective as it has put very drastic but also very specific restrictions on how we can interact with each other. Advertising has gone entirely online practically overnight as a result of the restrictions and it has created difficult conditions on social media and on other platforms that we’ve traditionally used.

We recently described trying to be heard on social media at the moment as ‘shouting into an EVEN MORE crowded room’. Quite amazingly, and particularly in musical circles, there has been a burst of creativity and content flooding social media and it has left us struggling to advertise efficiently. With these difficulties in mind we have decided that our time is best utilised working on long term projects that will leave us with lasting resources, standing the test of time for years to come. Our philosophy is that if we can come out of lockdown with a stronger foundation then we will be able to make the most of it when society regains some semblance of normality.

Our work has always been founded on the idea of creating a ‘portfolio career’, a necessity for modern musicians. Essentially, we try to diversify our portfolio as much as possible; selling albums and sheet music online, doing workshops and educational projects and basically exploring any and all ideas that we think might be lucrative. The restrictions the pandemic have imposed really underpin the importance of this philosophy even more. We will be working to even out some of the areas that we have possibly neglected in the past so that our portfolio is a little more resilient to unforeseen circumstances.”

Chapel Hill Duo at Charlotte House

Thanks Jaya and Sarah, that was great. Next lets meet Caroline from Caroline Chamberlain Bridal Couture.

Caroline designs and makes bridal couture at her studio in the Engine Yard at Bevoir Castle.

How has Covid-19 affected your business and how have you managed the inevitable postponements?

It has been tough. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time really as I had only moved premises 4 months earlier so all my savings had gone into the move, I was just beginning to get known in a new area when we got the government advice on the 23rd March and I had to temporarily close the studio. I had final fittings and collections, along with new brides booked in throughout April, which have all had to be cancelled, these will get rebooked in once we have a clearer view on when we can actually go back to work. Since we have no idea currently when we will be allowed to re open, it does make life quite worrying. I rely on on seeing my clients face to face for my business, trying on dresses and fittings etc. I am in contact with all my clients tho and they are keeping me up to date with their new wedding dates, many have moved to next year, so once we know when lockdown is lifted we will reschedule everyone in.

What are you doing to keep your business healthy during the lockdown?

I’m trying to keep people interested in my social media by posting regularly so Brides know I’m there when lockdown is lifted! I’ve done a few design consultations over the phone and email for new clients too. I’m taking the time to do things that I have been wanting to do but usually get put on the back burner because I would be sewing! I’m in the process of sorting a blog, I’ve been updating my Pinterest as i have learnt that rather than a social platform it’s a search engine! I’m setting up an Etsy shop too and have made a few Bridal Accessories to sell on there. 

What advice would you give to others to keep themselves motivated and optimistic during lockdown?

I’ve tried to start the day with exercise, it always makes me feel better, tho I have to be honest I certainly haven’t managed this everyday. Keep in touch obviously with family and friends, I’m in lockdown alone so this has been vital to me. Try to focus on the end game, this situation will come to an end and when it does we need to be at the top of the game to pick up where we left off and make our businesses a success to get over this incredibly difficult time. The business aside, I got involved with a group called For the Love of Scrubs on Facebook and in all honesty I have them to thank for keeping me focused and motivated. Alongside the work I’ve been doing for my own business I have been making scrubs and laundry bags for the NHS and that has really given me a purpose and helped me to feel useful while being stuck at home during this time. 

This pandemic has given many people the opportunity to reassess goals and ambitions when the world gets back to normal , what will your goals be moving forward (can be business or personal)?

From a business perspective I just want to succeed. I love what I do, and the plan with my move to the Engine Yard was to take the business to the next level and to just keep doing what I love, designing and making Wedding Gowns for beautiful brides. That goal has not changed and I sincerely hope when things get back to normal I can pick up where I left off. Personally, being on lockdown in a flat with no garden and in a city suburb has made me realise I really want to live in the countryside and get a dog! It has made me reassess lots of things to be honest, there’s nothing like a lockdown to highlight what’s working in our lives and what isn’t. Hopefully, this experience will bring some positives eventually. 

Thanks Caroline that was great too, I have shot a lot of fashion with Caroline and here is a fantastic image from a few years ago of Carolines iconic Union Jack dress.

Caroline Chamberlain fashion shoot.


About masseyphotography

freelance wedding, pregnancy and new born photographer based in Lincolnshire.
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