An open letter to British shoppers…

Dear British shoppers,

I write this letter today with huge thanks, but mostly with a call to arms #CampaignShopIndependent

I’ll begin by saying thank you, for supporting your local high street shops and online small businesses throughout lockdown. It’s been so exciting to see the appreciation of independents grow. The innovation many of them have responded with has been incredible, as I knew it would be.

I closely follow this with a plea; now you’re doing it, please don’t stop!

These brilliant businesses have always been there and now you’ve found them, you must continue to support and champion them. As non-essential shops in your towns begin to reopen, I guarantee you that the people standing behind the doors of independent shops will be waiting with bated breath, eager to see how their business can function with the new social distancing measures in place. Measures they’ve agonised over and painstakingly finalised, all the while having the safety of their staff and customers at the absolute forefront of each decision. If they have remained closed, I guarantee it would have felt like losing a piece of themselves.

These brands, offline and online, are someone’s dreams – their entire life – they live and breathe it! 

So I ask that you remember who was there for you when you needed them most. Whether convenience over conscience still seems like the right choice? Whether genuine connection and community holds more value for you now? You must ask yourself if you would miss that corner shop that kept your cupboards stocked and always welcomed you with a smile when things were scary? You must ask yourself who brought joy to your front door when the outside world felt a little bleak? And now ask yourself what would the world look like without these magic brands bringing colour to our grey.

I hope this ‘great pause’ has woken us up. That we’ll continue to be more conscious consumers and that we’ll support our local traders and our small businesses, who are the backbone of this country. That you choose small, over big.

So on Monday, I implore you to show your support to your local independents as they throw open their doors, with anticipation. Be kind, be supportive, embrace your community and just, show you care. 

Never forget, they need you. It’s not easy to make a small business work nor make a living out of it, but can you only imagine what life would be without the heart of our communities or the creativity in our lives?

Let’s back small, always. 

Join me, the Holly & Co team and the small business community as we continue our fight for #CampaignShopIndependent

With love,

Holly Tucker MBE

Mono-tasking over multitasking

This week I took a moment to breathe a little. Not a week off as such, but a break from all the video content and daily Instagram LIVES, to go a little slower and focus on some projects that were paused as we poured everything we had into being there for the small business community, and building SME: SOS.

I’m feeling a sense of coming to ‘the end of the beginning’ with this new normal, as everyone finds their pace and what was SOS mode is now part and parcel of each day, and it made me realise I needed a shift in mindset, to maintain momentum and offset the isolation fatigue I can see around me, and feel coming on myself!

It’s also been half term and whilst you might think I’d have spent a lot of time with Harry and Frank over the past 2 months, I knew we needed to take some quality time for us as a family and stop trying to do so much each day (no confetti cannons and hoovering arguments for just one week has been bliss)! I know I’m not alone in this feeling, and that the realities of having the kids at home have been setting in for many. With June on the horizon, let’s take a deep breath and brace ourselves for the next wave of changes.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll have heard me say my nickname since I was little has been ‘Hurricane Holly’! But I realised that even hurricanes have the ‘eye’ – a glimpse of calm in the middle of whirling energy – and that I needed an ‘eye of the storm’ moment, so that I can keep up with the whirling energy of Holly & Co and this amazing community.

So this week I’ve been practising something called ‘mono-tasking’ – the total opposite of multi-tasking, which women excel at and can sometimes become a badge of honour, but to our own detriment! Mono-tasking does what it says on the tin; you dedicate yourself to one thing at a time and solely do that one thing. It can be as simple as allowing yourself an hour to cook and enjoy a meal, or allotting yourself two hours to reply to emails then promptly moving on to something else. 

It sounds so simple and perhaps too good to be true, but I can tell you now this approach has made me so much more efficient this week, and allowed me the time to actually take a break. It’s so hard to do this as a founder, you always feel as though there is something you can do – and there will be! But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

And there’s science behind this approach too! Studies show that when you switch from task to task, it can take you up to 50% longer to finish those tasks, as opposed to sticking with one project from start to finish before moving onto the next one – that’s twice as long to do everything?! And it doesn’t take much of a distraction to derail your train of thought either. In a study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology, an interruption just under three seconds— barely even long enough for you to change tabs or glance at your phone— doubled the rate of error; a four-second interruption tripled it. Mono-tasking is clearly the way forward!

This is a huge element of the Enrichment Era; cutting the crap to get shit done and live the good life… I highly recommend trying it!

Flexible working – the key to ‘the good life’?

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realise we only have one.” ― Confucius

I’ll start by defining what I mean by ‘good life’…

Building your own ‘good life’ means having one life that is filled with all the magical strands that make you, you. Your work or business, your family and friends, your passions and dreams; all woven into a beautiful tapestry with equal measure and meaning. As Henry Dimbleby said on Conversations of Inspiration, ‘There’s no such thing as work/life balance, there’s just life’!

Now you know what I mean by good life, think about all the threads that make up your life, and really ask yourself, do they get treated with equal value? Think not just of work and family, but of your hopes and dreams!

On my Instagram Live ‘Interviews with The Experts’ this week I chatted to Pippa Murray, founder of Pip and Nut, and she said she has always dreamt of moving to Cornwall but, until now, it had not seemed possible. And last week I spoke to Asma Khan who said she’s realised that, although she is doing what she loves, she never really takes the time to properly look after herself, and this period has allowed her to do that – and she’s started boxing! Both Pip and Asma said they are looking at ways to bring a more equal balance across all areas of their life with them into the next phase of business, post-corona.

Because remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup! YOU are the duracell battery of your business, and if you don’t recharge you can’t give your business and team the best of you.

Something I have found completely life changing is the amount of time I’m saving time by not traveling here there and everywhere across London going to so many meetings – even meetings within the office! Not only am I getting so much more done work-wise but I have also found a small slither of time to do something for me. I can’t quite believe I’m saying it but I am finally going to try yoga with my sister and co-founder Carrie.

Are there any old habits that you’re still holding onto that no longer make sense? In the office we used to start every day with a team 10am, where we’d catch up and unblock anything that was stuck… we started off having these everyday when working from home, then on Mon, Weds, Fri and now we are just doing Monday and Friday! It’s enough for us to stay in the loop as a team and frees up time for more productive tasks.

I so desperately want to make sure that this ‘great pause’ is not wasted. So I urge you to recognise the changes you need to make and make them – for good. Flexible working is undoubtedly the key to allowing everyone, whether a small business owner or not, to build their good life. But we must recognise this privilege and not allow these newfound chunks of ‘free’ time dissolve away into our day.

Use your old morning commute time to do the yoga you always said you would. Take an hour in the evening to work on your dream that always takes a back seat. Play with your kids in your lunch hour! Get those niggling jobs around the house done and love the place you call home!

I for one most definitely plan on using this unprecedented time to make life long changes, for me, my team and my business.

 

I’m certainly taking on some lessons right now and making some hard choices.

I’m certainly taking on some lessons right now and making some hard choices. Realising thanks to this ‘pause’  (but if the truth be told, I’ve been feeling like I needed to take care of my mental health since mid last year) that I needed to wake up to my own mental health and not just look out for others.⁠

I’m an ox and always have been. Hurricane Holly is my name and so it’s easy for all to think that I can grin, bear and swallow. But I’ve realised the time has come to start allocating my energy into only the ‘light’ – so that I can refuel my soul.⁠

What I mean, is that I’m going to take this experience and for the first time, admit to myself, that I need to start to care more for what I absorb. So that when I expel and put out to others, it’s genuine energy and light ? rather than coming from a tank deeply empty on the inside.⁠

And I think it’s taken the worry for the world, our family and health to slap me in the face and just wake me up, to the preciousness of not only life but the fragility of our mental happiness.⁠

This is a period of time, never experienced in our lifetime and it’s the opportunity to reset the things that have been going wrong in the past. We can’t control the future or others. But we can control ourselves, today and what we wish to spend energy on.⁠

It’s not selfish, it’s looking after your mental health. It’s looking after you, so you can care for those you love and what you love to do.⁠

Have you asked yourself, what you need to reset? What you should be brave enough to tackle? Why will you be proud of yourself, when you look back at this period? Are you happy? Do you look after your mental wellbeing as much as you should or could?

As ever, please share SME: SOS with any small businesses you know, so we can reach and help as many as possible through this difficult time! Join me everyday on Instagram for my Daily Bulletin and to access SME: SOS resources and community, please head to @hollytucker for all the latest information and follow the conversation with #SMESOS

I promise, my house doesn’t usually have a zebra by the front door!

I promise, my house doesn’t usually have a zebra by the front door! But I was asked to take part in this shoot with all the proceedings from the feature going to wonderful NHS Charities.⁠

So Mr. Mudley and I got dressed up to bring some colour to lockdown in this week’s HELLO! Magazine!

Thank you to the brilliant Nicky Johnston for this picture taken all the way from inside his parked car!

As ever, please share SME: SOS with any small businesses you know, so we can reach and help as many as possible through this difficult time! Join me every day on Instagram for my Daily Bulletin and to access SME: SOS resources and community, please head to @hollytucker for all the latest information and follow the conversation with #SMESOS

I F*cking Love Admin!

That this ‘pause’ we’ve been given, allows us to prioritise so many things that ‘normal’ life never let us get around to. And I know, I just know… we all have some ‘fucking admin’ that needs our attention!⁠

We don’t know when we’ll be getting back to the outside world but just think what your future self will think… if you do not nail it now!⁠ VERY DISAPPOINTED I can tell you that for nothing!⁠

I want you all to visualise yourself wearing this badge (thank you dear Rock Cakes for this amazingness) and just get cracking! Tell me the admin horror shows you are all putting off!?

As ever, please share SME: SOS with any small businesses you know, so we can reach and help as many as possible through this difficult time! Join me everyday on Instagram for my Daily Bulletin and to access SME: SOS resources and community, please head to @hollytucker for all the latest information and follow the conversation with #SMESOS

Communication fatigue and how the bl**dy hell I’m coping!

I don’t know about you, but the amount of communication I’m receiving is higher than it’s ever been before! Ironic, seeing as we’re in a ‘lockdown’ scenario.

I’m trying to sort this out. Working out where we should be directing our communication…as in, not everyone using every platform and every WhatApp group with no law and order!

I was fascinated to learn, and it certainly makes sense why I feel the way I do, but notifications send our brain into overdrive, triggering anxiety and stress, and at the very least, hyper-vigilance, which is meant to protect ourselves from predators, not the phone!

Whether you hear it or see it, the alert can trigger a whole host of emotions and those emotions are chemical reactions! The side effects include everything from stress and anxiety to excitement and even feelings of addiction. You know that feeling, where you can’t, not respond! Do not Google this whole topic as I have to write this post – it is a bit scary!

I just read, and can’t believe it, that after a notification which forces you to switch between tasks (respond rather than continue doing what you were doing), it can take about 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand, according to a study from the University of California, Irvine. ‼️23 minutes – fuck!! I think it’s really fair that as we try and help our businesses survive this pandemic, teach our children (as if we are teachers!), keep our homes going and our sanity in check – to tell people how you need to manage your communication. Direct people to the right ‘group’, put an OOO on emails that explain you’ll take longer to respond and generally not feel you have to respond to all incoming texts and calls.

I also believe that having days of digital detoxing is a good way to just help the brain have a day off from it’s texting, posting, and emailing duties! So, today I’m going to take a day off my phone and all it AMAZINGLY. This photo is by the amazing Jessica Dance Maker.

As ever, please share SME: SOS with any small businesses you know, so we can reach and help as many as possible through this difficult time! Join me every day on Instagram for my Daily Bulletin and to access SME: SOS resources and community, please head to @hollytucker for all the latest information and follow the conversation with #SMESOS

Royal Mail #ThumbsUpForYourPostie

I mean, thank goodness for Royal Mail. I feel so very grateful for a service that keeps this nation ticking over and our businesses strong. And I know this community is just beyond grateful too, for every postie who’s ensuring that each and every one of our small businesses, literally, stays alive.⁠

I know we’re all doing so much, but Royal Mail has asked me to share with you a campaign called #ThumbsUpForYourPostie. We know how important it is for us all to show our appreciation to all the posties – so I’m asking you all, to give them a thumbs up (from a safe distance) to keep spirits high. How can you get involved?⁠

  • Take a selfie of you and your family (or housemates, or dog…) giving a thumbs up when you see your postie
  • Use #ThumbsUpForYourPostie to post on your social media⁠
  • Finally please share, share, share! We want our posties to know that they are massively appreciated!⁠

If you head to the Royal Mail website you can even download templates for your minis (or you!!!) to colour in and stick up for your postie to see! Show your postie you care #ThumbsUpForYourPostie #thankyouRoyalMail #SMESOS

Resilience

As we all panicked about the amounts of rice, pasta and chickpeas (!) in our cupboards, unknown to ourselves, we had cans and cans of resilience hidden at the back of our shelves.⁠

Only a month or so ago, if someone had turned around and told you that your entire life would be turned upside down, but not only that, your business would be put into a stress position  and made to hold that pose for the foreseeable future – you just wouldn’t have believed it! Not only would you have laughed nervously, but the reality is – you couldn’t have even processed what that actually meant.⁠

What we’re all going through is history and no one knows what the end of this story will be, or even, will there be an ‘end’ for the foreseeable future?⁠

So for now, like Popeye, rely on your cans of resilience and know we’re built to fight, to survive, to hustle, to change, to morph and generally to navigate to brighter times.⁠

Thank you, dear, Paper Joy UK for the brilliant ability to download this amazing design and for us all to be able to stock resilience in our cupboards!

As ever, please share SME: SOS with any small businesses you know, so we can reach and help as many as possible through this difficult time! Join me everyday on Instagram for my Daily Bulletin and to access SME: SOS resources and community, please head to @hollytucker for all the latest information and follow the conversation with #SMESOS

You are not alone #NoExcuseForAbuse

I’m sure you were the same, but when we went into lockdown, my heart instantly went to those who were going to suffer more, than the loss of being able to go outside. I worried so much, for those in bad relationships, but my heart broke for those in abusive ones.⁠

For those of you who have listened to my podcast with Jay Blades, you will recall I broke down as he told me how a number of women wanted him to thank me, for helping them be able to build a business. This then meant they were finally being able to leave the abuse within the home. I was in shock. I was humbled, sad and happy all in one.⁠

And unfortunately, my earlier fears were not unfounded. Not only was there a 120% increase in calls to the helpline in a 24hr period, but the number of deaths of women killed by men has soared to 16. This shocking number of women who have lost their lives is the highest it’s been in 11 years and double the average.⁠

I’m sharing this photo of a heart in a hand to remind anyone suffering from domestic abuse that #YouAreNotAlone. This is the hashtag of the campaign Priti Patel launched recently. She has pledged to help all who ask for help, making sure the perpetrators are removed from the homes and not the victims. But in some cases (where necessary) making sure the victims and children are placed in safety. In France, they have taken over hotels for victims of abuse.⁠

At home should not mean at risk. If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse isolation rules do not apply. Repeat – Isolation rules do not apply.⁠ If you are in immediate danger, call 999. And, this is new, if you are unable to talk press 55 on mobile and you will be put through to the police. You can also call The National Domestic Abuse Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (0808 2000 247).⁠

To anyone suffering from domestic abuse, please, please remember that help is still available #YouAreNotAlone #NoExcuseForAbuse

How are you surviving… what are your new rituals?

I hope this made you smile and you thought….YES…that seems very familiar! Because that’s exactly what I’d hoped would happen when I asked dear Veronica Dearly to create something for this community that sums up the wonderful upside-down world we’re all in.⁠

I don’t feel I’ve ever been as connected to one team more than I do now! And I’m sure they feel the same when it comes to my round face on one of their devices! What makes me laugh is that it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, someone will be eating!

I shared my new found treat with the team yesterday (I’m trying to be good!) of only 2 Pringles at 5.30 each day! Of course, I’m eating brekkie, lunch, supper and a tea-time snack… but I need something to say, ‘well done Holly’ as I come up to the end of the day!⁠

Please, please share your funny habits and rituals with me on my Instagram that you’ve got into as small businesses and founders! I know it will really raise a smile and that is really needed right now.

Join me everyday on Instagram for my Daily Bulletin and to access SME: SOS resources and community, please head to @hollytucker for all the latest information and follow the conversation with #SMESOS

Not all heroes wear capes!

They say “not all heroes wear capes” and after the last couple of weeks that feels more true than ever!

Last week, as I took part in #ClapForCarers with Frank and Harry, I was reminded of the importance of showing people how much you appreciate them. So I wanted to take a moment to say a huge THANK YOU my heroes!

  • The Royal Mail for bringing us letters filled with joy & parcels full of supplies
  • Teachers for continuing to support our children from afar
  • Shop workers for working tirelessly to keep us fed
  • Drivers for bringing us necessary goods
  • The NHS for keeping us safe
  • YOU!!! For continuing to bring creativity to the world when it needs it most!

Who has been your hero this week? We would love to know, you can how them you care by sharing and tagging them in this utterly brilliant picture over on my Instagram, @hollytucker, by the wonderfully talented Suzi at Twisted Twee.

To access SME: SOS resources and community, please head to @hollytucker for all the latest information and follow the conversation with #SMESOS