In the midst of the pandemic, our wreath kits allowed us to spread joy, transcend distance, and transform The Suffolk Nest into what it is today. From logistical headaches to heartfelt messages, here’s the story of how it all began
Wreath making classes had been one of our most popular offerings pre-pandemic, but when restrictions were imposed in 2020, these face-to-face sessions had to be cancelled and we were forced to let a lot of people down. Rather than leave them disappointed, we decided to launch a DIY wreath kit that our customers could enjoy creating from the comfort and safety of their own home.
Seasonal wreath kits are still an important part of The Suffolk Nest today. Each season, I redesign the kits with a new colour scheme, materials, and foliage choice. Our loyal customers eagerly await each design drop and I love the fact that the kits can still generate such excitement two years on!
An overwhelming response
The Suffolk Nest was still in its infancy in the autumn of 2020; we had around 80,000 Instagram followers but no website to facilitate online orders. Instead, our wreath making kits launched on my Instagram stories one morning in mid-October and the response was incredible! I’d have been delighted with just 50 orders but by midday, my Instagram DM inbox was overflowing, and we’d already exceeded 100 orders.
While I was excited to see that our seasonal wreath making kits had struck a chord with our audience, I quickly found myself feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared. There were several details that needed ironing out as quickly as possible to ensure we could fulfill orders and deliver people a little piece of joy during a tough time.
The logistics of posting out kits was an immediate concern: which containers would be best, where could they be purchased, and could our local postal office handle the quantities we were seeing? It quickly dawned on me that we’d need to employ a reliable courier service. Gathering supplies was also a potential problem; each wreath making kit featured 19 different elements that we needed to source.
Finally, there was the issue of space. We were operating from our home and had two children under two to contend with, our youngest daughter was only 5 months old at the time. To say that things were a bit chaotic would be an understatement.
Going live with DIY wreath kits
Ever since we started The Suffolk Nest, I’ve wanted to share my passion and make flower arranging accessible to everyone. That meant that each of our wreath kits had to be easy to assemble, and we wanted to support people by providing a real-time video tutorial.
Chris was the first person to suggest going live on Instagram. I don’t mind admitting that I was dubious about the idea at first - and extremely nervous! Live was a new feature on the platform that I’d never used before, so the thought of presenting a lengthy DIY wreath tutorial to hundreds of viewers was terrifying.
But with Chris by my side; I pressed the button and went for it. Creating the set up in our living room with a lit fire burning in the background meant that I could pretend I was only speaking to Chris instead of the 600 viewers that had immediately started sending questions our way. Thankfully, once I was completely immersed in the creative process, my nerves faded, and I relaxed into the tutorial.
Delivering joy nationwide
The initial demand for wreath kits didn’t subside. Lockdown was a tough time for us all and we heard from many of our customers that they were planning to use the kits to connect with their loved ones on Skype or over the fence with their neighbours. This instilled a sense of responsibility that drove us forward, despite the logistical challenges we were facing.
Every evening – once the girls were in bed and Chris had finished work for the day – we’d spend hours combing my Instagram inbox, responding to enquiries, and taking down orders. We found ourselves staying up until 3am almost every night for three weeks, and even had to pull an all-nighter on one occasion.
And then there was the moss. You might not think that just one item could cause such a headache, but mossing wreath bases became one of the most time-consuming parts of the process. I found that I needed to start mossing each base three weeks in advance if I were to have any hope of getting them finished in time! Every spare moment was dominated by moss and bags of it were stored all over the house, in every imaginable nook and cranny.
Preparing the first shipment
Organised chaos became our norm. The deliveries kept on coming and our home and garden were overtaken by foliage, moss wreath bases, brown paper bags, and cardboard boxes – more than we’d ever thought possible. Luckily, we’d established a production line to keep things moving. We spent days relentlessly packing little brown bags full of decoration goodies, so much so that you could always hear the rustling of bags in the background when Chris was on his work Teams calls! But we had a deadline to meet and thankfully our youngest loved being carried in a sling while we stood for hours making up the bags.
Our work from home situation got serious when I received a call that we’d be receiving the Christmas spruce directly from Holland and were asked whether we had a sizeable warehouse available for them to park up and offload the pallets! Needless to say, when we accepted the delivery, our house was turned upside down and the garden became a forest. I could see the fear on Chris’s face when he realised we’d have to store this fresh foliage in the garden we’d just renovated. We spent hours cutting the mountain of spruce down to size (despite some of the pieces being as big as Chris!) We even made it into a competition as we argued over who had the best and fastest cutting technique!
Finally, we roped in my parents to help us pack up the wreath kits and keep the girls entertained. We worked tirelessly, with boxes stacked up to the ceiling until the courier came to collect.
The final product
Once the first shipment was out the door, I went to bed with a huge sigh of relief. That is, until I realised that the deliveries would be arriving the next day! I couldn’t help but worry about potential issues, customer complaints, or any other difficulties that were now out of my control.
As it turned out, I could have slept peacefully after all. The morning arrived and all the messages I received were positive – everything had arrived perfectly. I could have cried with relief!
Those initial reassurances were followed by photographs of finished wreaths, and we were flooded with heartfelt messages expressing thanks and joy. We were completely blown away by the impact our seasonal wreath making kits had had on our customers’ Christmas. Our kits were able to bring people together at a time when many of us were forcibly separated from our loved ones and local communities. It was an incredible feeling and we felt like we’d created something very special.