We were all significantly impacted by the world turning upside down as COVID-19 changed everything. Due to the pandemic, many businesses worldwide had many positives and negatives to general functioning and overall success. We spoke with several of our much-loved suppliers about their journeys over the past couple of years and how we have been able to support them. Our ethos at Byron Bay Gifts is to endorse local brands, big and small, that we align with to propel us as a company and our suppliers forward.
“During this difficult period, the world seemed to become a bit more kind. People were looking for ways to support people from afar and were sending each other care packages and messages of love and support.” (Kieren Keegan, Brookies Gin)
One of the hardest adaptations for many of our favourite local businesses was a total change of operations; losing face-to-face interactions with customers is a big part of many industries and often the soul of why we do what we do. Getting to know colleagues and clients through vibrant conversations just didn’t feel quite the same via a zoom call. Speaking to Greg Taverna at Essentially Australia, he pointed out the fundamental parts of their trading that they had to press pause on completely, “we could not do trade shows or trade conferences; we also lost some face-to-face connections with some people we really like in our industry.” Katrina Murphy from the Byron Bay Coffee Company sang a similar tune, “we really missed being able to visit cafe clients, to help with staff training and support”. Social distancing was tough to manage when done remotely; Kieren Keegan from local distillery Brookies Gin spoke up about the difficulties they faced making sure their staff could handle the change of workload when suddenly producing sanitiser during desperate times. “ It was important to check on the mental health of the team as it was almost impossible to separate the problems of the world around us from our personal and work lives”.
“We were very lucky that we already had a great working relationship with Byron Bay Gifts prior to the pandemic [...] and we were also fortunate enough to keep up with supply with their increased gift sales.” (Katrina Murphy, Byron Bay Coffee Company)
On the other hand, many of these businesses had moments where they thrived via their online outlets; as shopping turned into a completely web-based experience, people were going straight to the source to get what they needed to make lockdown as comfortable as possible. Essential oils, coffee and gin, were undoubtedly up there to cushion the blow of isolation, but it was not all smooth running. Losing international customers was and still is an issue; with the global shipping delays and fear of contamination a very real thing, it put pressure on the local community to be the sole income for many businesses. Part of Byron Bay Gifts set up is to provide this steady line of production and demand to our stockists. Establishing a company that sends gifts and hampers was a prevalent business to be a part of in these challenging times. We love what we do because we want anyone and everyone to be able to share their feelings and appreciation for those they love, and showcasing brands that deserve to be seen and enjoyed makes it all the more worthwhile. Katrina Murphy described their successful experience with us; “with the increased sales in gift hampers over the pandemic, our brand reached a broader audience. We gained a number of online coffee subscriptions due to trying our product through a Byron Bay Gifts Hamper.” Brookies Gin also discussed the positive outcomes of aligning with us (and we feel very flattered indeed!). Kieren Keegan openly spoke about the unique platform we provide for local businesses; “Byron Bay Gifts are just fantastic! I love their business model, and I feel privileged that they choose to represent our products in such a professional but beautiful fashion. They showcase our products alongside other authentic, local, quality brands, and their messaging is one of luxury and premiumisation.”
“The local businesses feel like family to each other, and I think we genuinely love seeing each other succeed because business is tough, right!” (Kieren Keegan, Brookies Gin)
For us, giving back is so important; the community we have in the Northern Rivers is remarkable, and this was never more prevalent than during the recent crisis we experienced with the flooding. The shock and devastation were and still are immeasurable but being part of the extensive clean-up efforts and rehabilitation of the land was not even a question for so many living here. Risking safety, cleaning out destroyed homes and comforting those who lost everything was a monumental task. Being able to offer aid in the face of disaster was vital, no matter what that was, from donating supplies to offering up accommodation; every small action helped. Greg Tavern describes how Essentially Australia was able to donate stock during this time: “When the 2022 floods came, we were in a position to donate anti-mould essential oils like Lemon Myrtle and Tea Tree to the flood-affected people in our region.” Likewise, Brookies Gin had no hesitation in getting involved; “we operate under core values and behaviours and contributing to the community is one of our top priorities.”
At Byron Bay Gifts, we feel so fortunate to live and work here in Byron Bay, to be in a position to support local businesses in times of misfortune and unprecedented circumstances. Life throws so many curveballs but having mutual support and our family of stockists makes all the difference.