• Maggie Koller

The Covid 19 edit.

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by Maggie Koller The 2020’s have begun in the most unprecedented fashion. Who would have thought we would be avoiding people like the plague a year ago? We have been ill prepared for all the sudden changes. Ok. Enough with all the puns. So what have YOU been up to during the Coronavirus social distancing period?

Many people have been learning to enjoy the simpler things. Visit any hardware store lately and you would swear it’s Summer holidays. You’ll bump into former colleagues amongst the orchid soil mix in the garden centre and chatty neighbours perusing the paint swatches. The queues imply many people are off work with time on their hands. It’s hard to deny there has been a surge in domestic DIY projects. People are trying to fill in the endless days with long awaited to do lists and pastimes. Who knew baking would become so trendy- Grandma would be proud.

Whilst it all sounds more peachy than ice cream on a Summer’s day, it’s not easy peasy cherry pie for many other people. Notwithstanding that vulnerable people’s lives are actually cut short by a devious interloper which has overtaken the world like a dastardly villain, most of us who are young and fit are lucky to not be directly affected by Covid-19. And yet- The Conversation claims “............we’re just starting to collect Australian data. One preliminary study shows about 30% of survey participants have moderate to high levels of anxiety and depression.” April 30, 2020. So what’s going on? Isn’t more free time what we have always wanted? Isn’t it precious to spend quality time with your family? Getting off the rat race treadmill is always what we’ve wanted right?

Is all this free time too much of a good thing?

Even for those lucky enough to have a job- never mind anyone coping with unemployment and financial distress- many of us have probably experienced there’s a downside to all this simplicity. Workplace stress, boredom, social isolation, worrying about loved ones, parenting stress, and home schooling is probably familiar to most of us.

So what have we been up to at Orange bicycle designs during the social distancing........... Free time? Huh? What’s that again? Boredom? I wish! We’ve never been busier actually. Wow! there must have been a surge in prolific hat production? It’s true online orders have increased during this time. That is always fabulous of course. But that’s not it actually ......I’m Maggie and as the owner of Orange bicycle designs, when I’m not chasing the ultimate dream creating fabulous hats and bags at Orange bicycle designs, like many businesses in the growth phase; I need to earn an extra source income too.

Recently instead of focusing entirely on making hats and bags I’ve been working as front line staff during this Covid- 19 crisis. I also work part-time and casually in a regular job as a secondary school Social Sciences teacher here in Sydney, Australia. For the last 3 months I have been ensuring students understand the significance of World Heritage Sites and perilous nature of Food Security in Geography or how to draw up a budget and avoid scams in Commerce and this has been an incredibly challenging time for most of us with differing reasons. The 3 months has been a super steep learning curve for frontline staff including myself, prepping meaningful lessons for Term 2 using the latest educational and video conferencing applications. Whilst teaching has it’s joys, once this terms teaching gig ends at the beginning of July, I’ll be able to focus again on my ultimate labour of love; Orange bicycle designs.

Luckily here at Orange bicycle designs we have a fabulous team here that does amazing work through social media, blogging and sewing production. I can’t do everything myself and Alex, Madison and Nicola are three wonderful team members who help keep Orange bicycle designs enjoying the ride even when I’m busy doing other things. The business couldn’t function without them. One of the subjects I teach at school is Business Studies and I was telling my students recently that quality Human Resources is possibly the most important asset in any company.

Australia has been doing a fantastic job halting the spread of the virus. One of the reasons for that had been the swift cancellation of any crowd based activities. For us that means there has been no market or retail trading since February. Sydneysiders may remember we had regular mini cyclone weather towards the end of our Summer which also cancelled out some markets, before the virus emerged and turned the world on it’s head. Online business in step with the general trend has picked up in this period whilst the traditional and usual trading route of face to face trading had been closed off for the time being anyway. However we are so looking forward to seeing and meeting other people again and getting back into the swing of market fever in the second half of the year. Fingers crossed.

So how has it been for you during this unprecedented beginning to the 2020’s. What has been your experience with work and family? How are you coping with the Coronavirus social distancing? We would love to know. Personal stories are often better than fiction.

So what’s yours? Go on tell us.........

Lastly Happy Mother's Day to all those fabulous Mums out there. Please spoil yourselves this Sunday!

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