What did 2020 mean for NoBaked Cookie Dough?
2020.. I mean wow. I don't think I could pick just one word to describe 2020. Unexpected? Shocking? Disheartening? DIFFICULT? All of them seem equally accurate.
At the beginning of 2020, NoBaked was coming out of its slowest season for our scoop shops. We had realized that our customers wanted to come in and grab cookie dough to take home, but didn't want to hang out in the shops. Meanwhile, we were paying rent for retail location storefronts, not small spaces with drive-thrus or pick-up windows. We were re-evaluating our model and we were optimistic that spring would bring success to us and to our franchisees as we shifted our focus to promoting our storefront catering options. We had planned to begin putting some focus on e-commerce and wholesale as well, but we wanted to do so at our own pace and not out of necessity.
At the beginning of March, my husband (Jimmy) and I were working full-time in our Nashville scoop shops to save the company some money. I was 9 months pregnant. Hello pregnant me:
On March 3rd, a tornado hit Nashville that left one of our shops with damage and no electricity for weeks. Our building and parking lot:
We shut it down and planned to reopen once the city recovered from the tornado destruction in the surrounding areas. March 15 came and restaurants in Nashville were required to close due to the spread of COVID-19. My due date was 12 days later. At that point, Jimmy and I looked at each other and simply said "What are we going to do?" We had full-time staff members who depended on their paychecks from NoBaked to pay their apartment rents and mortgages. They needed their jobs with us and we couldn't fathom having to lay off the whole company of people who had become our friends. We had yet to pay our own apartment rent for March and I was about to give birth to another human that we needed to take care of. We were panicked but we weren't defeated. By this point in NoBaked's life, I had learned that our customers responded best to us when we are being honest with them. With that in mind, we figured that we should just tell the truth and hope for the best.
We told our customers that we needed their support. We moved our storefront staff members to our online store operation and we showed our customers the faces of the people that they would be supporting if they ordered our cookie dough. We finally put a face to the hard work and love that goes into making our cookie dough. See the post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B92H9mrpXRC/
Not surprisingly, our customers jumped at the opportunity to show their support. We didn't have to lay off a single full-time staff member thanks to the support we received. This small sign of loyalty that turned into something huge was exactly what Jimmy and I needed to encourage us to keep trying.
I began switching all of our marketing efforts to e-commerce. We found a company to help us with digital ads and we offered items like our Quarantine Care Package to try to help make a dark time seem a little brighter. We continued improving our operations and fulfillment processes to ensure quicker shipping timelines, consistency, and cookie dough that everyone would enjoy. Somehow, we found our way in a world that seemed so lost.
Navigating COVID-19 is the hardest thing NoBaked has ever been through.. but we made it. Today, we're stronger, more consistent, and much more aware of who we are than we ever would've been without the past year of struggle. We've got a brand and company identity that is sure and true to who we are. I'm proud of what we've become and what we'll continue to become as we face the lingering effects of last year.
Our story is just one personal experience of 2020. Others lost their jobs, couldn't pay their bills, had to learn how to be teachers, had to work in hospitals with patients who couldn't be comforted by their loved ones, lost loved ones without being by their side, and were isolated and alone for months. I would be surprised to hear that anyone would describe 2020 as "good". It created struggles that nobody could anticipate. For me, it wasn't all bad, sure. I had a baby who is now the brightest light of our lives. Jimmy and I ran a company during a terrible time that ended up causing the pivot that we needed all along. We were reassured and encouraged by the support that we felt from our customers, staff members, family members, and our friends. I saw neighbors treating each other with kindness and I saw people join together like I had never seen before. There was good in 2020, but I'm not sad to say goodbye to it.
So how do you move on from 2020? Don't try to forget it. Carry it and all of its lessons with you forever. The growth that can come from bad times is so necessary and so much more beneficial than what comes from good times. Embrace it and, if necessary, work to change your perspective into a positive one. Struggles make you stronger and 2020 was one heck of a struggle.
P.S. If you're a customer that has supported us over the past year, THANK YOU! You have all of my gratitude.