Help from the Australian government
Sarah and the team quickly swung into action, utilising government incentives including the Government Guarantee Scheme, part of a $250 million COVID-19 Creative Economy Support Package. Under the scheme, the Australian government guaranteed 50 per cent of new loans to eligible lenders, meaning small businesses like Sarah’s would have access to additional funding to help them manage the impacts of COVID.
Sarah worked with her ANZ manager Amir to secure the loan, as well as further funding with a business overdraft. “Amir’s really gone above and beyond to help us,” she says, reflecting on the time they met in a car park, masks on, to sign the documents required for the overdraft. “We were on a deadline, and we really needed to ensure that we had funds secured to weather the storm. Quick action was essential as we had no idea what to expect in the coming months.”
They also applied for JobKeeper, which they didn’t end up needing. In fact, Sarah says they were able to keep on all of their staff.
“The extra money has been really helpful,” Sarah says, “It was good to have the assurance that if we used it to purchase items, we had some extra stretch in our cash flow.”
They used their overdraft to continue to purchase stock, which Sarah says was extremely beneficial to the business. A couple of months later DesignByThem no longer need the overdraft and it has been paid back in full.
On the up
After an initial drop off in sales queries, Sarah says they’re seeing an influx in orders again. The showroom and warehouse have reopened, and the team is talking about hiring another staff member.
“Things have changed from how they were in March and April, but we’ve been able to continue with our product releases, orders have continued and stock has continued coming in, so that’s good!”
International orders have started coming in too, particularly from the United States, says Sarah. “We have been working with a team of interior designers in California, supplying Australian-designed and produced furniture to Spotify, Netflix, Nike and Google.
It’s really exciting.”