Last week we moved studios. Yes, it feels like something which has happened overnight, but as always it is one of those things that bubbles away behind the scenes and quite honestly we were too nervous to jinx it by talking about it out loud. In true Aesthetic Laundry style, we signed on the dotted line last Monday and moved out of our original studio on the Tuesday! It was a manic manic week to say the least.
Our new studio is in this beautiful building. We even have one of these gorgeous windows!
The conversation for a new studio actually began at the beginning of 2021. We had spent the build up to Christmas 2020 juggling what would normally be our busiest season with November's lockdown and continuing social distancing. Following a December like no other, we were rapidly locked back down again at the beginning of January and that is when we pretty much decided enough was enough.
It is usual to know when you have finally outgrown your current work space, when your growth is reflected in sales. However had COVID-19 not taken place, both Heidi and I know we would have been able to continue in our small but cosy studio for a little longer. The physical space was small, but we had managed to make the set up incredibly efficient to house 5 sewing machines and a cutting desk.
The original production studio where we have been for the past 4 years
However as soon as 2m social distancing measures came into play, we had to reduce the team numbers in the studio by over 50%. Which immediately had a detrimental impact on capacity, turn around time on orders, which in turn of course hit sales hard.
Looking back, perhaps it was our naivety that had us thinking in the summer that with easing of restrictions and the 'eat out to help out' scheme coming into play, this was the beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel; so when we found ourselves back in lockdown 4 months later, we decided to take a leap and find a new space.
It has been months of searching followed by some stars aligning, that saw a space become available in May in the same area as where we have been for the last 4 years.
The new production studio
The space is double what we had originally. It is on the ground floor (previously we have lugged fabric up two flights of stairs!). It has windows. And most importantly we can have the whole team in together. We even have the space to add more sewing machines and team members.
However with all these amazing elements, we have the risk that definitely comes when you take a leap that feels slightly like your hand has been forced rather than the next obvious step forward. Coupled with the fact that we do not have any additional funding or investment, we are now relying on the fact that with the end of the lockdown now in place and the return of some form of normality kicking in, it will mean that businesses start to bounce back.
The move has not been made without serious consideration. But it is a risk that we are willing to take, in the hope that the giant leap of faith pays off in the next few months!
Here goes the next chapter of AL....