· By Oonagh Simms
I’m here. Keeping going. Sending out marshmallows...
So, if I’m perfectly honest with myself things haven’t felt ‘right’ for a while. Politically, socially, you know, the big picture things. We all kept on acting up, eating out, buying the unnecessary. But, really, there was a niggle wasn’t there. A little ‘Is this ok?’ niggle. The Brexit divide that dragged on and was used as a quick way to shrug off problems seemed only symptomatic of more fundamental issues- from globalization, racism, economic insecurity, the climate crisis- it was all there. Simmering.
And now look.
What the actual hell has happened here?
So, it’s been a bloody weird few weeks. There has been the inevitable up and down of finances, the fear of losing our lovely team, suppliers, stockists. But, that’s not just me. I’m not special here. The Government support for small businesses has been a lifeline and will hopefully see us through this. But we don’t know that.
We just hope it.
Then there is the existential crisis…
The 'am I actually going to try and sell people gourmet marshmallows during a global pandemic one?'
My online store is still going. My ingredients were bought before this happened. I have boxes of freshly made marshmallows that were whipped up ready to go to stockists for Mother’s Day and Easter that have closed their doors. I can send parcels myself without the need for any of our team to put themselves at risk. And wow do people need cheering up right now. We’ve sent treat parcels, mother’s day gifts with heartbreaking gift cards, small tokens of love and affection and warmth and hope.
Because we are all facing challenges on a scale that would have been unimaginable only a few weeks ago. People are frightened for the health of their loved ones, worrying how they will pay rent, feed their families or open their doors again. And to cope with that, we’re connecting differently. We’re calling more. We’re writing more. We’re gifting more. So I’ll stay here for that. Until it feels wrong to do so.
And I’ll use this time and space to learn. And help. There is so much I’ve wanted to learn and develop over the last few years but have found reasons why I don’t have time. Well, now we have time. And I’ve signed up for the NHS Volunteering scheme, which I urge you to do. You can do this whilst social distancing- it’s dropping off medical equipment or giving a call to vulnerable people. Click here to register.
And afterwards? When we all go back outside and breathe and embrace and share. Then what? Will marshmallows feel like an unnecessary luxury we can live without? Probably. But that’s not the point. We still need craft products. There is almost no area of craft that doesn’t have some historic link to our manufacturing, trading past or our multicultural present. That’s not forged through sharing and learning. Craft makers contribute to economic growth through driving innovation in products and processes. So, yes, this is just fancy marshmallows but it’s about more than that.
When we’re more aware of disgraceful food surplus and food poverty. Of unequal distribution and the need for genuine sustainability then, hopefully, the food industry will look and behave very differently. We’re all reliant on each other to behave responsibly and safely right now. I hope, collectively, we come out of this better. So, yup, I’m here. Keeping going. Sending out marshmallows.