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Bellerby2

Practicing Patience and Perfection

Peter Bellerby, Globemaker: Keeping Ancient Globemaking Alive During a Pandemic

In Britain, the coronavirus outbreak is having a similar impact on small businesses as in the United States. Government assistance helped bring some measure of relief, but the future is uncertain, and fears are running high. Some small business owners had the foresight to set aside rainy-day funds that could hopefully tide them over this dark period. Peter Bellerby, the founder of Bellerby & Co Globemakers, had planned for that at the onset of starting his business. From his London warehouse studio where globe artisans quietly work their trade, Bellerby shares the impact coronavirus is having on his handcrafted globes business and lessons to be learned.

Photo: Harry Mitchell

Hunker Down and Get On With It

HOW ARE YOU, YOUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES, ETC., DOING?

Thank you, all well, for the most part, and the family is well. A few friends have gotten quite ill, including one with two young sons! And our illustrator went down quite badly. She only comes into the studio once a week normally, so it did not catch on! A few others had mild symptoms that could have been something else (headache, cough) and had to quarantine, of course, to be safe.

HOW HAS THE CORONAVIRUS AFFECTED YOUR LIFE, YOUR BUSINESS, ETC., AND HOW ARE YOU COPING?

We have been affected like every other company in that we have to close apart from absolute work. We’ve had to reduce our numbers in staff both by people showing symptoms, people living with vulnerable relatives or partners, and people unable to get to work without exposure to unsafe situations. It has reduced our capacity dramatically. We are still getting through a percentage of our order book and are also taking new orders. Though, of course, not too many at a time like this.

Personally, there’s a lot of paperwork and logistics to work through as an independent business owner. Having to read a lot on taxes and accounts and government dealings, I remain confused about most of them because clarity is hard to come by.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OUR BUSINESS LEADERS AND GOVERNMENT?

To businesses, I think the most important thing is to show confidence. It’s too easy at this stage to get caught up in the negativity, fear, and horror stories. But life will return to normal. To the government, leaders need to lead from the front and need to be performing, at the very least, the illusion of miracles daily.

DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS, IDEAS, RECOMMENDATIONS, WISDOM, ETC., TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?

Ever since I started this company, the most important thing for me has been to build up a position for a rainy day. It seems somewhat surprising that so many companies don’t do this. Equally remarkable, the government relies on printing money to do this. But maybe that is my naivety on the workings of money supply and macroeconomics.

Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell

HOW DO YOU THINK THIS EXPERIENCE WILL IMPACT OUR LIVES AS WE MOVE FORWARD?

I suppose the most fundamental point is that this reminds us that the world has no borders. It will be a constant reminder. Those in charge must be truthful about what is happening. That way, we can better prepare for recurrences. So many countries (look at America and Mexico) rely on help from neighboring countries. Now, they’re cut off from things like farming. On a forward basis, it is hard to imagine there will not be a hard recession, hopefully, briefly. It will remind us all that we should not take anything for granted.

Hopefully, it will have a positive impact on how people will eat (learning to cook at home / eat more at home / not eat fast food), who is important in our lives (the ones reaching out at this time), how we travel (jetting off on long haul or short trips).

More people are getting to know their neighbors and realizing the importance of caring for those less able in their communities. And this can continue after the pandemic is over. Hopefully, people explore healthier eating habits, spend more time connecting to loved ones and keep that up, and when things open back up, invest more into their local economy and travel more locally on trains, etc.

I think people will travel less for business and business meetings as they see how things could and can still function. Hopping on a plane to New York from London once a week for a business meeting might seem crazy to some people and some businesses now.

Photo: Harry Mitchell

I think everyone has had a moment of taking a hard look at their spending and habits and figuring out what is most important in life. So, I do hope some good comes out of this for many people. Perhaps some positivity and new habits that can carry on when things do return to normal.

Calm in the Midst of Storm

Bellerby reaches back in time to re-create the ancient art of fine globemaking. The meticulous craft is a calm repose in contrast to today’s stressful digital world. Perhaps through this pandemic, we will all slow down, reflect, and take stock of what’s important to us, as Bellerby suggests. Take some time and treat yourself to the time-honored craft of globemaking by reading our article on Bellerby & Co Globemakers.