Lessons from Berlin 1996

Absence makes the heart grow fonder they say. I think that’s true.

In 1996 after graduating from the School of Journalism  at the University of Regina, I was invited to #Germany as a #journalist to cover Green Week, a huge agricultural trade show. I was working in communications at Farm Credit Canada (FCC) and freelancing as a journalist.

One of the conversations I will never forget was with a student who grew up on the east side of the Berlin Wall who told me that after the wall came down in #Berlin, the challenge was learning to live together as family again after being separated for 28 years by political ideologies that manifested as The Berlin Wall. I asked - how do you do it? He said - we are family. We may have had different views and experiences but we are family.

Today I am thinking about how life has changed and what it means to be a family.  

We have changed. There is no doubt.  The way we live, who we spend our lives with, the places we go, the clothes we wear . . .

As a shop owner, I have changed my business model too in order to survive during the pandemic, but truthfully, my business has been on a trajectory of its own since the beginning, because I always felt that retail of the past - the idea of generic walk ins - is a thing of the past. 

As a business owner and provider for my famiy, I had to make some decisions long before the pandemic for the good of my family,  I made the decision in 2019 to expand my consulting practice, and actively set out to obtain a full time contract.  In preparation, January 2020 I announced that I was going to operate by appointment only. 

My peers in the boutique world told me that people would not accept the idea of shopping by appointment.  But I believe that my business works for me, not I for it. 

And so effective January 2020 I closed my doors to random walkins.  It was a big risk to take, but truthfully, the business case for walkins just wasn't and still isn't there, because my customers are like me - they are working and iving their lives wearing multiple hats and carrying responsibily for their families, their careers and their businesses.

Fast forward to March 2020.  I accepted a position in Winnipeg and moved with the intention of coming back on weekends, and running the store online from Winnipeg.  By the end of the first week there, COVID 19 had landed hard, and I came back to work from home.  I also learned on my way home that the government had closed my business and sent everyone home to work.  

And that was the official day our lives changed. Now 21 months later, I continue to offer shopping by appointment and I have opened my doors to "old school" shopping without an appointment on Saturdays.  My online store, which was launched in 2017 to provide another option for customers, became the new front door.  

One of the things for which I am grateful over the past 21 months is that the new way of living and working has brought our community of ZOESTS together in a more global way.  We are here in Regina, and across Canada, and into the United States, Europe, Austrialia, and the United Kingdom.  

And while we are separated in some ways, we are connected in the ways that matter.  We are connected through a shared set of values. 

As we look to the end of 2021, and toward the future, no matter what happens to my store with a door on 12th Avenue in Regina, this place under the sun  will continue to be where we connect.  

With love, 



#thewalkmatters #entrepreneur #covid_19 #family #historyisateacher #ideology #wallofberlin #family

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