I was listening to a podcast the other morning and the host, in talking through her 5 biggest moments of 2020, happened to use the phase “Hindsight is 20:20.” Something we’ve all said hundreds of times, but it hits a little different this year for obvious and then even more obvious reasons. 2020 was unlike any year before it, and while we are all excited to shut that door firmly behind us, it’s worth taking whatever time needed to reflect on what we’ve learned and how we’ve changed and grown. Looking back, or hindsighting my own 2020, I came up with my list of 5 moments or milestones that stand out from the past year.
1) IL Anniversary Celebration: Valentine’s Day weekend is the date we celebrate the anniversary of Irene Leigh and this past year, to mark our second year in business, we went all out! The celebration included three days of three different kinds of fitness classes (pilates, yoga and barre,) sips and snacks, gift card giveaways, and a specialized coupon book with discounts to some of the best local fitness studios, eateries and more! It was energizing to see the turn out and visit with existing friends and customers and meet some new faces too! It turned out to be the last event we were able to host in our shop, but we look forward to safely sharing our space again in the future.
2) Covid Closure: Like most other local businesses, March 16th was the day we closed our doors following guidance from the state and local government to keep our customers and ourselves safe from Coronavirus. At the time we thought it would just be for two weeks, but that deadline got extended again and again. It was a scary time as we didn’t yet understand much about the virus, and also to be closed without any clarity on when we would be able to reopen or how we would pay bills in the meantime. Luckily our amazing local and country-wide community showed up for us. As we rushed to get all of our inventory on the website and send out emails and social media posts, customers near and far were choosing to shop small and spread the word to their networks. You saved us and I will be forever grateful.
3) Red Backpack Grant & Reopening: By Mid-May we were entering our 8th week of closure and my positivity tank was starting to run out. We’d flexed what retail magic we could, messaging sale and highlighting what new arrivals we were still able to receive. Government funding was still a bit of a question mark and the financial well was drying up. But then all of the sudden there was a glimmer of hope. An email popped into my in-box from the Global Giving Foundation announcing that our application had been chosen in the first round of recipients of the Red Backpack Foundation’s grant! Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, had started the Red Backpack Foundation as the charitable piece of her organization and because of the Covid-19 crisis, she pledged to donate $5,000 to 1,000 female founded businesses across the country. A longtime fan of Sara, I recorded a short video and submitted an application asking for the funding to help support the return of my staff once we were able to reopen.
This recognition, and the timing of it, meant the world to me. It was the wind back in my sails that I desperately needed to keep my dream and my business alive and moving forward. A few short weeks later our doors were able to re-open to the public, and again our community showed up. You respected and supported our safety policies and stopped in to shop or just check and see how we were managing through the pandemic. Seeing people again, masked face to masked face, was soul warming. People need people, that much has never been more clear to me. While it was not a typical summer in Saratoga Springs the sunshine started to melt our fears and give hope to the future.
4) My Brother’s Wedding: My brother met the love of his life and after a few years of dating proposed to her back in April 2019. They spent well over a year planning their perfect wedding day but in July 2020 it was made clear that Covid was not going anywhere and so their 200+ person dream wedding would have to be postponed. Having already had a long engagement, another year was going to be too long to exchange vows. So with a super small gathering of immediate family and closest friends my brother became a husband and I gained a sister-in-law on a sunny, windy September Saturday. I can say with the utmost certainty, I have never seen either of them happier. It was a day of smiles and laughter from the first mimosa to the very last toast. Again, a testament to the power of being around people; everyone in attendance was swept up in the love, pure joy and excitement that the bride and groom had for each other and the next phase of their journey together. I will always remember that strong and powerful wave of love and happiness we all felt on the beach that day.
5) Move to California: In my late twenties I was living in San Francisco and decided that the only good reasons to move again would be for the right job or for the right guy. Note that I was clear that it wasn’t just A job or A guy; I’d done that before and learned from it. Fast forward a few years later including two east coast moves for great career opportunities, and I found myself this fall packing my car to return to California for the right guy. Of course relocating 3,000 miles away from the best job I’ve ever had was a risk, but one I could only have made knowing that I was leaving the shop in the right hands. Enter Shelby, one of the kindest, most trustworthy, thoughtful and capable people I have met. It was good timing for both of us and our seamless partnership and her support all year long has been invaluable. Additional thanks go to my family, especially my Mom who road-tripped across the country with me. It was a once in a lifetime experience we will never forget; safely and respectfully driving through new states and photographing several western national parks. Now begins a new chapter of life living in Southern California and I’m so excited for everything to come!
Have you taken time to reflect on this past year? What are your top 5 2020 hindsight moments? Write it, post it, or simply just talk it out with friends or family, but I recommend doing it!
It’s with a grateful heart that I remember the past year and look forward to the next, wishing you all health and happiness.