TNTP in the time of COVID-19
Hi friends! It’s been a HOT SEC since I’ve posted on the blog, let alone shared anything aside from DIY projects.
With all the balls I find myself having to keep in the air and other digital platforms that require tending to, The Neon Tea Party’s original outlet always seems to be the first thing to fall by the wayside. (Did you know that TNTP started as a blog?!)
But with everything going on in our world right now and the desire so many of us feel to document this unprecedented and historic time in our lives, I’m back on the blog today to share details about the unforeseen journey this business has taken the last two months.
While crafty posts are also certainly in the immediate blog pipeline, the main point of today’s post is a story I’ll call, “Remember that time we FINALLY moved TNTP into a studio, only to move it back to the apartment two weeks later because of COVID? That was fun!”
Let me back up a second.
At the beginning of this year, after over three years of operating and growing The Neon Tea Party out of our tiny 1-bedroom Manhattan apartment, we found the PERFECT private office in a beautiful coworking space, 20 minutes walking from our apartment, and around the corner from Sam’s office. It was a dream come true! In February we signed our lease and began to transition into the space. We even hosted three pom pom workshops with our NYC community to help bring the decorative vision of the space to life!
Yesterday, with heavy hearts and fabric masks tied around our faces, Sam and I moved the last of The Neon Tea Party’s things out of our perfect downtown studio space. It was sad and it kind of felt like the world had just played one big (and not-at-all funny) joke on us. But, it was kind of okay, too, because the bright side of this whole situation is that The Neon Tea Party is growing like never before as we put our entire focus on connecting with YOU, our online community, by providing virtual craft workshops, an ever-growing library of skills tutorials, and keeping our online shop stocked with all the craft supplies you need to keep busy, sane, and even joyful during this time.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the chronicles of TNTP’s journey the past two months, keep reading! But if you’re pausing here, please know how boundlessly grateful I am that you’ve been turning to The Neon Tea Party for your crafting exploits while you’re stuck at home. My goal during this time is to keep your spirits high and your hands creating so that we can all come out the other side sane and more deeply connected with our creativity than ever before!
On March 1st, The Neon Tea Party made the big move out of our apartment with much help from Sam, my dad (who came in from New Jersey to help us with the move), and my amazing assistant Madison who played a major hand in getting us settled into our new space. The next day, Madison, Sam, and I got to work planning for our studio opening, which was to be held the following Thursday, March 12th.
On Wednesday, March 11th, the day before our launch party, the world learned that Tom Hanks had COVID in Australia, America’s NBA season was canceled, and that we all basically had to head for the hills. The three of us spent much of that day going back and forth as to whether or not we should cancel the next day’s party until finally, we made the devastating but responsible decision to call it off.
We finished out the rest of the week at the office, shipping out as many orders to you guys as we possibly could, and began to consider what the future could hold for TNTP, if it wasn’t going to be an in-person craft studio.
On Friday the 13th, Sam and I walked home from the studio (his office had closed the day before), optimistic that we could still safely work from there since we had a private office and the majority of our floormates had stopped showing up. It was going to be great to have a safe office to walk to and work from each day, we thought!
Not one hour after arriving home and pouring ourselves some wine on our building’s stoop to take the edge off of the nightmarish week we just had, Sam and I received an email from our coworking office informing us of an unconfirmed COVID case on our floor.
We kicked back what was left in our glasses and, without blinking an eye, we were on our way back to the studio to rescue as much inventory and supplies as we could fit into a Lyft XL.
Over the weekend, and as the vibe in New York City and America at large became increasingly grim, we decided to make another trip to the studio to retrieve any remaining inventory, shipping supplies, and bulk craft supplies that could be turned into craft kits and used for demos. And it was a damn good thing we did!
On Monday, March 16th, we received an email informing us that the COVID case on our floor had been confirmed and that our office was being shut down for medical-grade cleaning. Not to mention that Monday marked the first unofficial workday of quarantine in New York City, with most non-essential workers making the decision to stay home. (NYC’s official shelter-in-place mandate began on March 20th.)
I’m infinitely grateful for the problem-solving skills and nimbleness that entrepreneurship has taught me because, also by Monday the 16th, I had thrown together a three-week plan to kick off virtual classes and offer themed promotions on our craft kits and supplies. I decided to turn the lemons we were all being dealt into electric neon pink lemonade and figured that if we were all going to be cooped up for a while, at least we could all craft together at home!
Well, apparently you guys had the saaame idea because we’ve been getting crafty together every week since!!!! The past seven weeks have seen TNTP’s biggest sales by a LONG shot (hello 5x-ing our monthly e-commerce revenue!!!), we’re gaining hundreds of new Instagram followers each week, and most importantly, my connection with YOU, our Neon Community, is stronger and craftier than ever before!!!
It is this community and the momentum that you all have helped TNTP to achieve that is the iridescent-neon-unicorn-rainbow lining in this ominously dark cloud upon us all.
And it is the stride I feel that The Neon Tea Party is finally hitting–after three and a half years of pouring my heart and soul into this business–that made breaking our lease and officially moving out of the TNTP-Studio-that-might-have-been kind of okay after all.
Our decision to break our lease was quite simple. Paying NYC rates on an office space made sense when we could both operate the business from it AND utilize it to create community and host craft classes. But without the latter, the monthly rent we’d have to continue paying on a space we weren’t using to its fullest would be a big waste. Not to mention, the uncertainty around when the heck we’d be able to attempt opening to the public again!
As I look to the future, I genuinely have no idea if and when we’ll give opening the TNTP Studio another shot. Everything around this pandemic we’re living through is so uncertain. When will we be allowed out in the world again? When we are, will strangers come together in small groups for activities like crafting? Will we have to sit six feet apart? How long will it take until a vaccine is approved and administered to all so that we can FINALLY return back to normal life? And when that happens, will “normal” look the way it did before COVID-19?
But the one thing I am sure of is that no matter how this all plays out, The Neon Tea Party will be here for you online, bringing you joy in the darkness, and reminding you of the boundless creativity living inside of you that not even a global pandemic can take away.
Peace, love & neon,