by Cherie Jerrard
The night before my daughters' school closed she had a cry and while hugging on the sofa I told her we’d turn a negative into a positive.
Of course it wasn’t that straight forward. We struggled with home schooling and like everyone else I had to adapt to loosing half my income, worrying about the health of my mother and find ways to keep supporting us.
Like many self-employed ladies, I have my fingers in a few pies. I work freelance, I am a part-time fitness / dance instructor and I run Cherie did this. Lockdown wiped two of those out straight away. I lost a big contract for freelance illustration and the gyms closed, so my dance classes stopped instantly with no pay. Quietly panicking while trying to entertain a 10 year old was hard, her worries being eclipsed by my own. Her Dad isolated early on so Pearl was with me all the time. The whole world went into a strange state of limbo and fear was compounded by constant news updates.
My instinct was to support others and I was keen to give things away and offer letterbox gifts in the hope it would help us all feel less isolated. Crafty kits and things to 'make and do' from home became my focus. A downloadable pdf on how to make a sausage dog out of toilet roll was an early creation (linked below). Wooly Cloud Making DIY Kits were very popular (you can see more of these at @every._.cloud). I did free dance classes live each day, and I recall doing one while baking cakes and another while cleaning the bathroom!
Looking back I may have been a little crazy, and I have nothing but respect for instructors who have continued their classes throughout, Joe Wikes you’re a marvel as are you Liz Parkes (@parksey11). It was comforting to have social media as my community, something I’d previously questioned. I will never forget the friendly people who danced with me through the madness.
After about 6 weeks I began an Art Club with a London based friend I’d nearly lost touch with. We have a common love of creativity in various forms, we met when I was working at an art shop in Islington. This was a turning point for me as art has always been my saviour. It helped me escape for a couple of hours every Sunday, we plan to keep this going. You can hear our ramblings and join the art challenges set each Sunday at Midday, usually on @cheriejerrard
Before lockdown I was approached by Not on the High Street to join their site as a ‘Partner’ … during lockdown seemed the best time. I started getting up at 5am to work on my ’Store Front’ and digest the mechanics behind the scenes of their super sleek website. Don’t even get me started on algorithms. Once Pearl was awake it was hard to concentrate. Inevitably this took some time to get up and running but as a company NOTHS were very encouraging and supportive during a time when it was hard to keep going. There were tears and it took about two weeks to do the bare essentials but now my partner page is live and kicking....notonthehighstreet.com/cheriedidthis
By chance I posted a photo of a pin badge on my Cherie did this Instagram account. It had been in my range since last year. It’s a classic Rainbow & Cloud…I was surprised (unbelievably I hadn’t cottoned onto the Rainbow craze in the early days) how popular this pin badge was. NHS workers began sharing them and sending them to each other as gifts. Before I knew it I’d sold out and was making more, humbled that the people I should be thanking were helping us even more. Next came the Rainbow Masks, based on the design I’d used for the pin badges. I waited until local makers, who have a high standard of manufacturing my products, tentatively reopened. Having worn the disposable masks I wanted mine to be more up lifting, to make the best of a bad situation. With our mouths covered we cannot share a smile so it’s important for me to bring colour and positivity.
Pearl refused to wear the paper masks so I found the softest fabric I could, now she wears it at any opportunity. She helps me get the orders out and although her home schooling is often questionable we have eventually worked well together, I believe she’s learning invaluable life skills. We have turned our negative into a positive and feel extremely grateful to the community which has helped us through. Where we go from here I’m not sure but I’m proud of us for getting this far.
As we all return to some aspects of our previous lives I hope that my mask can help us to keep sharing the positivity. Each mask has a pocket inside for anyone who wants to add a filter and they can be washed at 60 degrees and reused.
I’d like to offer Ladies-who-Launch a discount on two or more masks purchased so I’ve created the code staysafe for a 20% discount exclusively for all of you. Please visit www.cheriedidthis.com to order yours now.