It's been 49 days since Aruba closed it's borders, a curfew was put in place and my self-isolation journey started.
It's been a rollercoaster of emotions, which I am sure it has been for you too.
I've had good days and bad days. Days of laughing hysterically and days of crying uncontrollably, but I'm still here, still healthy and have somehow managed to maintain my sanity.
Here's what been going on behind the scenes at Dushi HQ....
THE HUSTLE IS REAL
The first few weeks of quarantine was not that different from my daily life in all honesty. I work from home already, so nothing changed in that department, but I did notice that my online sales dropped dramatically. I completely expected this to happen as I totally understand that peoples financial circumstances have taken a turn for the worse so purchasing a cute beach themed slogan tee for their vacation (that probably got cancelled) is not exactly a number one priority right now.
Due to my sales dropping, this also meant that my income from Dushi Designs became basically non existent so I had to brainstorm on how I could adapt my skills to continue to work and keep my head above water. Luckily I have always designed websites freelance and this side hustle is what has gotten me through so far. Thankfully friends and clients from around the world have been recommending me which has kept me afloat and brought in a steady stream of cash which has allowed me to feed myself, my fur babies, the street dogs and pay my bills.
Also, I have had many conversations with the owners from the Sunset Shack. As you know, they are my flagship store on Aruba and have stocked my merchandise pretty much from the start. We have both grown our businesses together from the ground up and worked so hard to get to where we are today. It's been a really turbulent time for small local businesses as all the bricks and mortar stores have had to close their doors. Thankfully we thought quick on our feet and from week one of lockdown Sunset Shack started to offer free home deliveries across the island. They also converted their store in to a warehouse.... And something else.... Something which we are going to share with you this week so keep your eyes peeled!
As my Mama lives in another country and my boyfriend works overseas, I am kind of used to being alone and not seeing my family for long periods of time. Having said that, before this pandemic took over the world, I already felt lonely but I guess it's a feeling that I just kind of got used to.
Being a solo entrepreneur, having a long distance relationship and family that live abroad is tough enough but during this time I have missed human connection more than ever. I have always been good at keeping in touch with friends and loved ones and was the first to reach out to everyone in my circle to check in on them but knowing that I can't just jump on a plane and see them in person has really made me put extra effort in to make time for video calls so I can see all their gorgeous faces and have some much needed belly laughs!
I have had catch ups with my old school friends, ex colleagues that I used to work with as cabin crew, people who I met whilst travelling... So many amazing friendships have been reignited because of COVID19 which is a positive that I am happy to take away from this situation.
Have you been catching up with old friends and making time for family FaceTime sessions?
Over the last five years since I first started Dushi Designs I have barely taken a minute for myself. Always on the go, always creating new designs, always working hard behind the scenes. I decided at the beginning of lockdown that I did not want to be pushy and go all in with aggressive advertising during the pandemic so I took a step back and gave myself a break. I cannot even begin to tell you how great it felt to look after myself and not feel guilty about not working.
I've had pamper days at home, digging out my stash of beauty products that I haven't used in ages; clay face masks, coconut hair treatments, diy homemade aloe moisturiser.... I have really enjoyed taking a moment or two for ME!
Not only has it made me look better on the outside but most importantly it's made me feel amazing on the inside too.
As I am home alone and my house is under construction (yes, I live on a building site) I have had to teach myself how to use power tools! Usually my boyfriend does most of the heavy labour and renovations but of course he is not here as he is locked down in another country. So I made the decision to have a go at doing some projects myself.
I can now use a drill and a chop saw! WOO HOO!
I have been sanding and cutting wood to put up shelves, made a dressing table and even a bird box. Go me!!!!
I also managed to figure out how to use a jack hammer and have been digging big holes in my garden to plant my palm trees, mango tree, frangipani and cactus.
It was back breaking work and my thumbs are still numb from the vibrations but it was totally worth it!
Now my garden is coming together nicely and is starting to feel like a place that I can enjoy rather than avoid.
As far as routine goes, I have never really had a strict one set in stone. I guess that's the up/down side to being self-employed.
Somethings never change for me though and the only tasks that I do by the clock every day is taking care of the animals.
My 3 rescue dogs wake me up at 6.30am every morning by jumping on me and giving me kisses... Yeah... I am one of those gross people that let my dogs lick my face!
Once I have had my cuddles with them, it's breakfast time for my babies and then I head out to feed the stray dogs living on the streets in my neighbourhood.
Some of you may have seen them in my Insta stories. Every now and then I will post a little pic or video clip, not to say, "hey look at me feeding the strays" but actually my goal is to bring awareness and remind people that even though there is a pandemic going on right now, there are still problems happening on our tiny paradise island that need addressing.
The overpopulation of stray dogs has been an issue for as long as I can remember. Over the years I have rescued more dogs and puppies than I can remember. But it's never enough. There is always another dog that needs rescuing tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that.
Right now I have 9 stray dogs that I feed each day. I used to feed them twice a day, breakfast and dinner, but because my income has been reduced I had to cut that down to just once a day. I can't even tell you how bad I felt about that because these dogs depend on me to fill their bellies each day, give them fresh water and love and attention.
I wish you could see their sweet faces when they see me turning the corner... They come galloping down the road, jumping on me, licking me, wagging their tails so fast with excitement. I always spend a little time petting them because I know that is the only human interaction they get. They are so loving and cute but it wasn't always like that. These street dogs have been so much, some have been previously owned and dumped in my neighbourhood, some were tossed out on the street by their family once they was no longer a cute little puppy.
In fact two of the dogs I feed were locked up inside a garden because their "owner" had moved house but failed to bring her dogs with her. It blows my mind to think that people still do this in this day and age. But sure enough that is what happened.
I have their full rescue story coming up in another blog so look at for that!
Leading on from my daily dog ritual.... I also helped rescue 5 puppies!
They had been abandoned (by a human) on top of a cliff overlooking Baby Beach. They were terrified and was hiding on a bush. I left water for them and a little food but I wasn't able to touch them. So I called for back up from my dear friend Zoraida from Luna Foundation to see if she could bring some trapping cages to help capture them.
Sure enough she came along with some volunteers and we spent 2 hrs trying to catch them safely. We managed to get 4 but one ran away along the cliff top. As I live nearby i said I would stay behind and continue to search for this final puppy.
Well.... It took me from 2pm until it went dark on that first day.... Searching in the bushes, climbing through cactus, jumping in and out of peoples gardens.... And the same again the next day from 7am until 5pm.... Finally the final puppy resurfaced and made her way back to the original location where she was hiding with her siblings. I told myself it was the smell of the cooked chicken that I had made for her that enticed her to come out from hiding! Whatever the reason was, she survived all night and day until eventually she was scooped up and reunited with her brothers and sisters at Luna Foundations safe haven.
I slept like a baby that night. Knowing she was safe and sound and could now start her journey to heal again. Hopefully all five puppies will be healthy enough to be adopted very soon.
"You are so lucky being locked down on a Caribbean island!"
I have heard this a LOT from friends of mine overseas, and yes, this is true. I do consider myself "lucky" to be self-isolating on One Happy Island. I can walk to the beach, take a dip in the sea, feel the sunshine on my face.... But Aruba has it's fair share of problems just like anywhere else in the world.
We have limited medical resources.
The island depends mostly on tourism.
Many people have lost their jobs.
People are struggling to feed themselves.
Families are now relying on food parcels.
It's a scary situation and I haven't felt frightened like this in a long time.
Aruba is considered one of the safest islands in the Caribbean and for the most part I always feel safe here when I am alone.
The last time I felt unsafe was back in 2012 when the oil refinery closed and there was lots of people who lost their jobs. I know people can do things they wouldn't normally do to survive when they get desperate and this last week has made me feel that way again.
Just a few days ago I went to my local store and a young boy of maybe 12/13 years old asked me if I could buy him a bag of rice because his Mother had no food. I felt so awful because I didn't have that much cash on me, just enough to get him his rice and some frozen chicken. He was so grateful and had tears in his eyes when he thanked me.
I got in my car and burst out crying because I just felt so bad for him.
Who would of thought that this would be happening on our little piece of paradise? People starving and not being able to feed themselves and their children.
There have been two break ins in my neighbourhood within the space of a few days. Which for my neighbourhood is unusual because it's so quiet and peaceful where I live. I even caught two masked men running by my house (with full ski masks on covering their heads) and jumping in to a getaway car then driving off with no lights on. That terrified me because I don't know what I would do if someone broke in to my home and honestly, I don't want to find out.
If someone did try to steal from me they would be sorely disappointed because I really don't have anything of value to take anyway. As I told you before, my house is under construction.
I have no furniture except for a bed, wardrobe and desk. No television, a crappy old iPhone 5 and not much else... So if they did get inside my home they would be MAD AF!
So yeah... Being in quarantine on a Caribbean island has it's advantages for sure, but it also has it's downside too. Just like everywhere else.
To end this on a positive note I have to mention my amazing Dushi Family... You guys have been awesome! Checking in on me via DM's and lovely emails. Some of you have even left me super sweet messages in the comments box when you have purchased something from my online store. Those little surprise notes really do brighten up my day and lift my mood like you would not believe! So thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart.
Did you see our amazing giveaway by the SaltLife Family last week?... These guys wanted to give me a boost and arranged this cool giveaway to give someone a $100 gift card for my online store.... I mean.... WOW! WOW! WOW! It was so unexpected and meant the world to me. Not only did they give one lucky winner a fabulous prize, they also introduced loads of new people to my little beach brand so I can spread the island vibes to even more people now!
I am truly thankful to everyone who entered and if you missed out on this giveaway... Don't panic, you have another chance to win some dushi swag at the end of this month.
All you have to do to enter is download the free gift for May and join the #DUSHICHALLENGE
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