What a year it's been. It dawned on me recently that it's been ages since I’ve written a post. I write a TON on our Instagram page, but it’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything in this format. I think a little part of me has been avoiding sitting down here with you all and reflecting back on what this year has really been. Because it's been hard, you know? Everyone says that the first year of business is tough. It's the time you make mistakes and learn, evolve and grow. The tough is expected. But a first year AND a pandemic? It was nearly insurmountable. I jokingly say that I’m permanently traumatized. But, really, I’m not kidding.
Sorry. I know this has been a horrible year for everyone. And I'm just one story in a sea of others. But I'm guessing that if you're reading this, it's because you care about something here whether it's me, Le Village in general or you just stumbled on here through the magic of Google. So I'm going to use this space to be honest with you and pull back the curtain a little bit.
We were a fledgling business that had opened 4 months before COVID. (4 months!) I had planned for a 6-month runway but not much more. As the numbers rose and lockdowns hit, I remember sitting down and running the numbers. And it became clear how really and truly screwed we were. How was I going to make money as an in-person, membership-based service that depended heavily on events on the weekends? How. The. Hell?! I spent many sleepless nights up worrying about my business and my employees, too many hours away from my child (of which spending more time with was the whole reason I started Le Village!) and too many weekends working. I thought a few times about how it would feel to quit. No one could blame me. I’d be one of a thousand statistics.
But I couldn’t figure out what I'd do next. I’m a problem solving community builder, so if I couldn’t do this...then I had no idea what else I could or would even want to do. So, I worked even harder and spent more time learning about what mattered to us as a brand. I pivoted my business model. Community and connection is a tenet of who we at Le Village are and what we set out to do, and I had to continue my mission COVID be damned. I created Connected, which moved all of our classes online so that our teachers and students could still continue seeing each other and learning. I created virtual happy hours and meet-up groups for the parents so that our families would be supported and could find ways to support one another. I created Unboxed, which provided another opportunity for our students to keep learning and for their parents to have these beautiful moments of connection with their kids without adding more stress and planning to already chaotic days.
And we survived. Barely, but we did it! I have managed to not be a statistic this year. I have to remind myself often that simply by surviving that I am succeeding. How Le Village is still alive when brands like J Crew, Paper Source, and Chuck E Cheese have filed for bankruptcy, I’ll never know. 60% of small businesses have permanently closed. That stat alone keeps me up at night. That shuttered storefront was someone’s dream. Their life savings. But that’s not us. Le Village is still here and is back on our mission to share our coworking and childcare space with others and grow nationwide.
If you've gotten this far and are still reading, I want to thank you. Thank you for opening yourself up to what this year has looked like for me, especially in a time when it has been so hard for us all. If you're a member of Le Village or a supporter of CONNECTED or Unboxed, a special thanks to you. We literally wouldn't be here without you supporting this small business. We opened our doors a little at a time to support our families, and our families gave that support back to us tenfold. I’ve sat with my members in tears, no facade in play, no pretend positivity. I’ve had them lift me up, and tell me “we’ll make it through this”. They really meant “we”, us, Le Village. When I needed them they were there. If that’s not a community I don’t know what is! The sleep deprivation is real, but so is the love and trust we have all placed in each other. I’ve learned so much more than I ever thought possible about valuing each other. This place wouldn’t have worked without it and I don’t take for granted how unique that is. This year truly showed me what the support of a village looks like. So thank you again. I couldn’t have made it without you.
I can’t wait to share all of the amazing plans we have, backyard patio fun, outdoor movie nights, cocktail hours, our new PM play...just so many amazing things! Stay tuned! I promise our next blog post won’t be long behind!