From the Desk of Kate McCrea / Small Business Smarts

Making it through the COVID Crisis by Staying True to Our Purpose

From the Desk of Kate McCrea / Small Business Smarts

We've just marked the one-year anniversary of the COVID Pandemic, and I am reflecting on how far McCrea's Candies has come.  Despite the difficulties that COVID presented, we overcame the year’s challenges and thrived.  The key to McCrea’s success?  Staying true to our purpose: connecting family, friends and loved ones through the gift of caramel.

When the State of Emergency was declared in Massachusetts, business at McCrea’s Candies came to a complete halt. Our attention quickly shifted from managing a rapidly growing company on track to reach new milestones to doing everything we could to ensure McCrea’s would make it through the second quarter. It was as if someone had hit the pause button and put our company in stasis, leaving us wondering when – and if -- we would ever be able to hit play. 

The resurgence of business started with a simple phone call from a non-profit business that we consider to be an old friend. Community Servings is an organization that provides food to chronically and critically ill people. The organization gives back to the community in a variety of ways, from providing kitchen training to hosting a local farmer’s market. Ten years ago, when McCrea’s was a fledgling company, Community Servings offered us a spot at that market.  Our participation showed us that we had a product people adored and helped act as a catalyst, confirming that McCrea’s Candies as a business was viable.

The call that came from Community Servings in late March of 2020 was asking if we would still be able to participate in a Mother’s Day fundraiser we had signed on to before the Pandemic. We were 100-percent committed to this campaign even though our entire staff had been furloughed, and we hadn’t the slightest idea how we’d pull it off.

We brought back a skeleton crew to hand-pack almost 1,000 boxes of caramel complete with beautiful hand-addressed Mother’s Day cards. As we processed the packages, carefully matching the hand-written cards -- each bearing a loving message for mom -- to the mailing labels we had printed, the words on those cards started to work magic. The love being sent all over the country in our boxes of caramel had a tremendous impact on our tiny team of people. The connection between family and friends was still there despite the pandemic.  It energized us. 

After that, we asked our customers to nominate people who were working through the COVID crisis for their communities, recommending frontline heroes who deserved a box of caramel.  We shipped out hundreds of boxes along with a handwritten note expressing gratitude for their hard work and devotion to the job. Again, the love sent out from customers to doctors, nurses, mail carriers, and grocery workers, was inspiring. We even sent a package to a K-9 unit and threw in some treats for the pooch!

We could feel our purpose coming to life with the generosity and good will of our customers and partners and that momentum carried us forward. Life returned to the business like a slow breath of fresh air. Our purpose, connecting family and friends both new and old, was the oxygen that we needed to recharge after the initial shutdown of the business. We again realized, it’s not just a box of candy but a wonderful way to share joy and forge connections with others.

The work we were able to do while our business world was dark kept us going. When orders started coming in, we were ready to ramp up production. We experienced the powerful benefit of maintaining purpose in the face of uncertainly and the result has been immeasurable.  

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