Thirteen years ago I decided to open SugarMango, just as we went into recession!  I thought if I can make it through this I can make it through anything.  Fast forward to 2020 and a pandamic.  When I first had to close the doors of the my boutique store and head home for lockdown one my heart was breaking, I didn't know what was going to happen and if I'd loose everything I'd poured my heart and soul into building.  

The first week or two were spent sitting in front of the news waiting to here anything positive, just a glimmer of hope was all I needed to sustain me, frantic web searches for information on loans and emails to suppliers asking for delays in orders.

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This was one of the most stressful times of my life, and believe me I've had my fair share.  Luckily support came from customers and suppliers with words of encouragement and shortly afterwards the government announced the finacial support.  What a relief, I now knew I'd be ok.  Little did I know that the expected 3 month lockdown would happen not once but two more times, with a total of 7 months being closed.

But us small business owners don't give up easily, I busied myself with online courses to improve my knowledge of websites and social media, and set myself a goal to improve my online presence.  While I watched others on Instagram working out or home schooling I attached myself to my computer and dug into SEO, keywords and analytics. 

This time enabled me to grow my women's online boutique presence and continue trading during the pandemic lockdowns.  My focus was to bring my collection to my customers at home, I missed our interactions and chitter chatter, but with some great support from my customers I never felt forgotten.  It's great to be back now and trading properly.  One positive from lockdown has been so many new people discovering their local high street, just from having the time to walk around their neighbourhood.  

My hope for the future is that people will now rediscover their love for small local independent businesses and want to live in places with vibrant high streets that offer a community.  The vibe in my Southbourne high street is really buzzing with people and full of great businesses that really deserve to do well, and with our fantastic community behind we will thrive.