Lockdown With Gem
Have you heard there is a nasty flu going round? We thought it would be good to catch up with Gemma Oaf and see how she is getting on during the craziness of this pandemic and lockdown.
Read Gemma give an open and honest insight into how Lazy Oaf is doing, her WFH set up and how you can buy some of her clay pots with all proceeds going to her local NHS Hospital, Whittington.
How is Lazy Oaf Doing?
Like everyone, we are trying to do the best we can to keep safe and hope we come out the other end. I have run Lazy Oaf for nearly 20 years and survived, floods, fires and organ removals but this microscopic fuckery was threatening to take us down harder than any other.
I spent the first few weeks in a blur of stress, sickness and tears, I desperately wanted to find a way of keeping those that worked with me safe, my suppliers going and keeping what I have spent most of my life working on, alive.
I am sure you have heard the same thing from many small businesses, our experience sadly is not unique, Covid has been hitting small Independent businesses hard, and we are no different.
It has not been easy, it has involved some very difficult decisions and it is something that is in no way over. I have an incredibly supportive team, so smart, creative and resilient and am lucky to have them. We don’t have a large supply chain and many of our factories are small and we have worked with them for a long time, they rely on us, so we have tried to work with them to ensure that there is still a flow of business, whilst also taking all the precautions necessary to keep safe.
Having closed our two small stores, we have also seen our trade business dramatically reduce, but have seen some of our incredible indies thrive! Luckily it’s our online business that is keeping us going, shout out to our warehouse and all the couriers in the world! It is our incredible Oaf community, our customers that I also owe so much thanks to, you guys are have been the best, I am so grateful and appreciate all your support, more than words can say.
Working and running Oaf from home has been quite strange but also has had some good perks (mostly proximity to the fridge)"
What is your Lockdown set up?
Working and running oaf from home has been quite strange but also has had some good perks (mostly proximity to the fridge). I have Crohn's Disease (an Auto Immune Disease) which means I am in a moderate/high risk category, so here in the UK I have been told to self quarantine for 3 months, no going outside, I am now in Week 8. I live with my hairy husband Chris, a hairy dog, Bob, and currently also my not so hairy bestie, who moved in temporarily before this all happened. I have ventured outside a few times, once to hospital to get treatment and the other time to rescue our office plants. Half my home is now a plant hospital.
I have mostly been working from one corner of my sofa, but have now migrated to the kitchen table, so I can have a small commute from day to evening, this might not last.
During Lockdown, from this sofa corner, I have spent 2 hours watching The Fitness Marshall on Youtube and that has been the full extent of my keep fit regime in 8 weeks.
What’s going on with your WFH fits?
Anything that has an elastic waist band. I freaked myself out last week by putting on socks for the first time in weeks, I’ve been shuffling around in slippers. There have been several days where I have forgotten to brush my teeth. I have seen a lot of people asking about quarantine beauty regimes, mine is a huge tub of Nivea soft and a hair brush (used occasionally).
Not knowing what will happen next, is the hardest challenge, so we just have to adapt and do the best that we can."
Biggest challenges running a fashion business from lockdown?
Not knowing what will happen next, is the hardest challenge, so we just have to adapt and do the best that we can.
I miss being with my full team (we have had to furlough 2/3’s of our team). Everyone that remains is having to wear many hats, and they are doing an incredible job!
A lot of video calls, not everyone likes looking at themselves as they talk, I am trying out a variety of careful hand and chin poses that minimise my wobbling chin.
It has been, and will continue to be, incredibly stressful. I feel overwhelmingly responsible for so much, not a great mix personally for me and Crohn’s Disease, so being at home means that I have personal support, a bed and Netflix when I need it! I know so many people are dealing with so many more difficulties right now so feel grateful for what I have.
What’s for dinner? Snack times?
My Hairy other half, just so happens to be a chef, so have had no end of delicious dinners and snacks. I am in trouble for saying this as he is practically Michelin starred but my favourite has been the Weird N Tasty Snacks we created, I sampled everything. Nutella and Wotsits work as a combo, blew my mind.
See all of them here
How are you staying creative and inspired during these times?
The parts of Lockdown I have really enjoyed is being able to be more creative. We are trying to create all our creative content from home, which has been so fun. I have spent a few days creating cocktails, photographing swimwear and building buddies out of clothing, something that I haven’t had chance to do for a long time!
From an extra curricular point of view and for sanity sake, I have tried to differentiate my weekends from the weekdays by activity type, as I can’t go outside. A lot of the weekends are now filled with content creation however, when I stick to it, I have creative projects on the go, that become meditative and nourishing (sounds so cringe, but have been soul saving in the chaos).
Pottery is my number one go too always, my house is filled with pots, however I can’t go to the pottery studio. I have turned to punch needling, I can’t knit or crochet but turns out I can punch needle and create tufted pieces of fabric with pots on them.
I have also started a ring carving project, which has seen me destroy every attempt at a ring about 6 hours in.
Throughout all of this, there has to be a funny side, and I am always looking for it.
Have you learned any new skills or rediscovered some old ones?
I have rediscovered how bossy I am.
I am good at cutting Dog Eyebrows.
I am good at Regional Accents except Northumbrian.
I am really good at watching Masterchef
Weirdest dream you've had:
Last nights was pretty good, I dreamt that I was part of a Witches Coven with three others all against our will. We had silver discs implanted into our hands that we had to prise out of our skin to break the curse, it was pretty scary.
Despite the shitness, I am laughing a lot at home (perhaps the upside of experiencing all forms of intense emotions)..."
Bob's fave thing about lockdown:
Bob is having the best time. He is enjoying having constant tennis ball throwers around. Treats on tap, and no haircuts!
What's made you laugh the most or what's passed the most time?
Despite the shitness, I am laughing a lot at home (perhaps the upside of experiencing all forms of intense emotions). I am really appreciating any kind of talking dog video, trash dating telly and have a constant stream of stupid jokes on the go at home.