In short, here is a timeline of how we survived (or are trying to survive):
– ITB was cancelled
– It’s time to get home ASAP and try to be an inspirational leader, and convince the team everything will be ok.
– Malawi has its first COVID-19 reported case.
– We cut all non-essential costs but maintained our best staff. We put everybody on 50% pay/time.
– We updated all our presentations, photos galleries, videos, info documents and the like and remained hopeful and positive.
– We started working on a new website which we aim to launch in April 2021 and rebrand as Crafted Africa. Watch this space…
– We came up with Plan B and launched Wines & Wings importing wine from South Africa and supplying around Malawi (with an added bonus of supporting the SA wine industry during their lockdown alcohol sales ban), to provide better wines, gins, whiskies, brandy, craft beers and the like to our part of the world, and most importantly to create and extra revenue to maintain our key team.
– We built a yoga deck in the garden for my girlfriend to do Yoga classes – Yoga at Wines & Wings Guesthouse.
– We commenced renovations to expand our guesthouse in Lilongwe (More info here).
– COVID-19 cases in Malawi is still very Low.
– Our first wine order arrived. 80% were sold by the time they arrived, and the rest sold pretty quickly. EXCITING TIMES.
– Our second batch of wines arrived, double the size of the first order. 65% were pre-sold. Again people were thirsty and the wines moved quickly.
– We converted half our kitchen and pantry into a wine shop as we expanded to deal with demand (and perseverance to survive COVID.
– Malawi is still relatively COVID free so we held our first wine tasting event, which was a huge success.
– We had our second wine tasting evening which was a huge success.
– Our staff moved back on to 80% pay/time to cope with wine sales, tourism postponements, cancellations and maintaining the high standards we set ourselves.
– We continued to take small steps in the right direction.
– We spent 5 weeks in the Cape Winelands meeting the movers and shakers of the wine industry. It was important to do this, to have good relationships with the wineries, understand the products better and make sure the pricing is spot on.
– My girlfriend, Lotte and I got COVID and spent another month in South Africa recovering (and then enjoying everything Natal has to offer).
– We returned home. Tourism enquires seemed to be increasing. Does 2021 have potential?
– Wine sales and tourism enquiries continued to rise and we made the decision to put the team back on 100% pay/time from 01 March.
– A happy team back to full time and excited about what the future holds.
– All of our team have completed the Beverage Intelligence Wine 101 online course.
– Team wine tasting: The team share a bottle of wine together after work most afternoons…
– Wine tasting, team bonding and downtime is important.
– Our first wine order from South Luangwa in Zambia. I will hand-deliver.
– We are excited to have your clients return and to add wine tasting, yoga, our guest house and other side hustles to their future trips to Malawi.
– We hope to start wine tasting events again and look forward to the end of the rains.
– We hope to officially launch our rebrand, Crafted Africa soon and are holding thumbs that tourism will return to our beloved Warm heart of Africa.
Thanks for reading, if you have any questions let us know – Mike Varndell
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