2021 - The year that was ....
Posted on December 29 2021,
Well … wasn’t that fun! 2021 definitely was something … to tell you the truth, it has been incredibly hard to sum up this year. There were highs and lows; steady parts then some hectic, intense and frustrating parts. There were laughs, tears, anger, joy and love. But we managed to get to the end, and we couldn’t be happier.
2021 was the year of the big FOUR OH too … we had two milestone birthdays which were celebrated, of course, with friends and family.
So, let’s look back at 2021 and see what happened in the year that was supposed to make everything better!
First Quarter - January, February, March
We started January with some good memories. We kissed 2020 goodbye with a bottle of Prosecco and did a big cheers to new beginnings. After 2020 and lockdowns, we looked at 2021 as the year that we were going to make some huge changes and the first quarter of the year was looking great!
We have always had big plans for the front space of A Beautiful Occasion. We have an amazing showroom which was being used as a very basic shop (with very limited stock) and for meetings with our couples. We decided to really ramp this up and actually start selling homewares, gifts and of course flowers out of there. So, we put some plans in motion to start with the next exciting chapter of A Beautiful Occasion.
We also had some ideas kicking around our minds in regard to a coffee cart or van … this is something we had been wanting to do for a while but really couldn’t envisage how we would A. find the time! and B. learn how to make an amazing coffee on top of everything else … funny how world works sometimes though!
From 1 January to 31 March 2021, we completed 31 weddings and events. At that time there was minimal restrictions in place, and we were so happy to see so many amazing and beautiful couples tie the knot after probably around 60% of them having to change their original plans!
Second Quarter - April, May, June
That little idea we had about a coffee van came to life in April with the arrival of Satra Coffee Co. The cute little white van sits in the grounds of A Beautiful Occasion and they threw open their windows on Friday 16th April 2021 and have been going from strength to strength ever since! We just love having Satra Coffee Co with us, not because they have the best coffee going around, but Sally and Tracy are just such a delight. They have carved out a beautiful space, made a vibe out of our otherwise boring garden and have really made a mark of the coffee space within Port Stephens and we couldn’t be happier for them.
So, with the arrival of Satra, we decided to officially open our shopfront as a florist, gift and homewares store. We searched high and low for amazing brands that are not anywhere else in Port Stephens and started to really make A Beautiful Occasion the number one place in Port Stephens for flowers.
In May we hosted Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea at A Beautiful Occasion. We had over 50 lovely people attend raising over $2000 for the Cancer Council. We had Satra onboard supplying beautiful coffees and some great prizes kindly donated by First National Port Stephens, Custom Built and Tynan’s Wines.
This quarter saw 27 weddings and events go ahead which was so amazing and we did some beautiful photo shoots with Nelson Bay Golf Club and Crest at Birubi which we loved being part of.
May was also Mother’s Day and we delivered over 100 bunches over the weekend from Friday to Sunday. The doors were also open to our shop to allow for people to come in and collect and enlisted the help of family (thanks Nette!) and we were completely blown away by the amount of people coming in to buy their Mum, Nan, Grandma or whoever gifts and flowers! Really reiterated to us that we had made the right choice in pushing ahead with the storefront.
Third Quarter - July, August, September
This quarter started like most others … COVID was still lurking but not really affecting us too much. Voting had opened in the Port Stephens Examiner Annual Business Awards, and we decided to enter for the first time ever. We asked for the support of the local community to vote for us and support you all did!
By now, we had the shop well and truly humming. We had brands like Mr. Consistent, al.ive body, Bespoke Letterpress and Frankie Gusti and we had regular customers, something we only ever dreamed would happen.
Then, on the 5th of August 2021 the daily news conference confirmed all of our greatest fears; Port Stephens was back in lockdown. We were in the place we really thought we would never have to be. Back to not seeing friends and family, back to home-schooling, back to Zoom cocktail hour and back to the uncertainty that lockdown brings to a small business.
We decided this time to keep the flower deliveries going with online ordering the only option. We closed the doors to our shopfront and pushed everything to our website to allow our customers to place orders for loved ones. We were worried to say the least … there were remote meetings to discuss how we would get through this, how the staff would work, how we would be back to juggling home-schooling and running a business and how we would cope. The stress, like most small businesses during this time, was 100% real. Leaving the ordering open turned out to be the greatest decision we could’ve made. From when we were locked down on the 5th of August till, we reopened the store in October we took over 1000 orders. We delivered these, contactless of course, with card messages mainly being “We love you”, “Thinking of you” and “COVID sucks”. There were bunches for birthdays missed, bunches for wedding days that never came, bunches for funerals that people couldn’t attend and bunches just because. We felt the love from everyone around us. It was hard, yes, but also so rewarding. We had market bunches on a Saturday which was great and something we had never done before. We had customers coming and picking up their orders, contactless of course, of a Saturday and we really enjoyed the support of locals who loved this new option. So many people would come down, grab a coffee and their bunch and be on their way – it was a vibe.
Our families and staff members were all on hand to help during this time. With limited staff allowed at A Beautiful Occasion, most of the calls were taken remotely and a roster of deliveries evolved. We took it all in our stride and got through the other side of lockdown with a new sense of achievement and excitement about where the business was heading.
During this quarter we did, wait for it, 2 weddings! Yep … you read that right!
Third Quarter - October, November, December
This month started with us still in lockdown and home-schooling. The kids weren’t going back to school till the end of October and some of us were able to come back to the office one or two days a week. The flower orders and deliveries were still going strong, and we were excited to get the shop open again.
So it was with great excitement that on the 18th of October 2021, we reopened our doors and we got back to business as usual. Yeah, there were masks and QR codes, but that was a small inconvenience to have our beautiful customers back.
This quarter is when the winner of the Port Stephens Examiner Business Awards was announced. This was our first time entering the awards and we were hoping to take out the Florist category. The winners were announced on Thursday 25th November and to our complete surprise, and of course delight, we had won! We were so incredibly excited and were just so grateful that we had the support of our customers, friends and family who had all voted. It was a moment like this that really makes us look back and how far we have actually come … we celebrated this amazing achievement with our team, and some bubbles of course!
This quarter also saw the return to weddings with most restrictions either lifted or lifting. We completed 26 weddings and events. One weekend in particular was our biggest in the history of A Beautiful Occasion. That weekend we successfully completed three beautiful, entirely different weddings and all with amazing feedback. The team all came together and just the logistics alone in executing these weddings was enough to have us feeling a little anxious. Safe to say that the first Monday in December, we were all a little tired, but we were on the home stretch towards the end of a crazy year.
Late in December we enjoyed drinks with our team and of course Satra. We played secret Santa, we ate amazing food, we received beautiful gifts from customers, and we ended the year just how we started it; with a big cheers!
So, thanks to everyone who played some role in our year; from our amazing staff, our friends, our families and our customers. We have loved what this year has taught us, which is even when you think that nothing could get worse, that sometimes having the right people around you just make everything better and OK.
We love you all and thank you so so SO much for your support.
Love Amy + Sara xx