Kerri Jamieson of Warrah Workshop in the Falkland Islands shares how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting her embroidery business and the “inevitable” orders from the military base for ‘Lockdown Tour’ tops
The Falkland Islands, home to garment decoration business Warrah Workshop, has two confirmed cases of coronavirus at the beginning of April. Local testing is not possible so tests have had to be sent away, and UK air links had been disrupted to the islands during March, but have since been restored. Social distancing is being observed on the islands, as in the UK.

“All people movement between the islands has ceased, so we’re now effectively stuck on the West until the situation changes, but we don’t tend to go to town much anyway so this is no major hardship,” explains owner, Kerri Jamieson. “The local infrastructure services are all doing their utmost to keep critical supply deliveries running while keeping their employees safe, so not much change for us, except meeting the plane now involves waving at the pilot from a distance rather than the usual chat over the pre-flight paperwork.

“For Warrah Workshop, social distancing is the norm. We are extremely fortunate in that we are geared to isolation in the business and at home. The irony is that in the current situation some of the downsides of being so remote have suddenly become serious benefits. Because of our location we keep a fair amount of stock on hand, and have other stock already in our 8,000 mile supply line. We also operate entirely by mail order. Our nearest neighbours are eight miles away (not counting the penguins, seals and dolphins), so the two-metre rule is not a problem.

“I’ve had frankly amazing support from the local Post Office, Falkland Islands Government Air Service and the ferry service all doing their best to help with supplies and deliveries, in our tiny and close knit community – it’s amazing what you can achieve by just picking up the phone and asking for help.”

Coronavirus tour tees

Up until the end of March, Kerri’s business has been quite busy, but she’s starting to see the expected slowdown as businesses, schools and clubs either close or hunker down for the duration. “On the upside, we are still getting orders from the military base here for tour T-shirts, including the inevitable ‘Corona Virus Tour’ and ‘Lockdown Tour’ tops. I suspect we will see a slow trickle of business over the next few months, but we are in uncharted territory.”

The lull in business will give Kerri time to service her Barudan embroidery machines, work on self training, investigate new software solutions, reorganise the stock room (which she says is “seriously overdue”), and generally explore ways to work smarter.

“Motivation is always going to be an issue in quiet times, and a mental kicking is sometimes required, but I am optimistic that we can put the downtime to good use and weather the storm.”

Kerri practises her social distancing on the local dolphins
How to work in isolation
As print and embroidery shops send their staff home to isolate, some owners have moved production into their garages or spare rooms to allow their businesses to keep ticking over during this uncertain period.

Kerri Jamieson of Warrah Workshop in the Falkland Islands is 180 miles from the nearest paved road and runs, she says, “probably the most remote embroidery business in the world”. She offers her advice on how to make working alone enjoyable and productive, and shares how the coronavirus is affecting her business.

“Working in isolation is certainly the norm for me and I am very happy with it,” says Kerri. “I love what I do, I love the quiet and peace of our location, I love being my own boss. However, it’s not for everyone, so what works for me is not going to work for all.”

She has made her working environment as comfortable as possible, and has music playing, pictures on the wall that she loves, and a backdrop on her computer that lifts her spirits when she turns it on – anything that makes it just that bit easier to stay positive, she says. “I also think it’s important to recognise the upsides, however small: I love not having to spend hours in traffic jams, I love not having to shoehorn myself into crowded trains and love not having to cope with that one inevitable annoying office co-worker.”

She has a routine of working days and hours that she sticks to where possible, but is clear that sometimes things don’t go to plan. “If I’ve slept badly or am distracted (and let’s be honest, we’re all a little distracted at the moment), there is no point forcing myself to do a tricky job that requires concentration, some days do get written off.”

Above all, Kerri advises, to be kind to others and, more importantly, to yourself. This is an unprecedented and scary situation and there are going to be days when we all lose the plot, it is to be expected and you just have to let yourself have those moments, then move on.”