Pei Sim, the owner of Paper Craft + Pantry, shares her quarantine routine.

COVID-19 has radically changed our routines as we stay home to slow the spread of the virus. We’re asking local women how it’s affected their day-to-day life and what advice they have for keeping structure at home.

Austin Woman: How has your life changed because of coronavirus?

Pei Sim: Like a lot of other people, I feel like my world has sort of been turned upside down! As a business [with] physical space where we operate as a retail business and host weekly educational and creative workshops, we are simply unable to conduct day-to-day business. I am concerned about our employees and how I can keep giving them work so they can remain employed.

AW: What is helping you stick to a routine?

PS: Having a young infant forces me to stick to somewhat of a routine as my days have been and still are dictated by a very small, adorable human being. Trying to carve out time while she is napping to strategize and attempt to support my business to keep [it] afloat while we are closed is really challenging as I get, on average, 45-min chunks to work. Having such a broken up time to work isn’t my ideal work scenario as it feels very disjointed and difficult to stop and restart again, multiple times a day.

AW: How are balancing working from home with kids at home, too? Any advice for other moms in the same situation? 

PS: Set pretty low expectations of what you can actually accomplish, prioritize what truly is urgent and needs to get done first, ask for support from your spouse or partner.

AW: What is your go-to recipe right now?

PS: Anything from The Defined Dish recipe book!

AW: What’s your favorite podcast right now?

PS: Live Free Creative podcast.

AW: What is discouraging you right now, or what’s been difficult to face emotionally/physically/mentally/etc.? 

PS: It’s been discouraging to see how the current situation seems to have brought out the worst in some people. It’s been emotionally and mentally difficult receiving unkind messages from people who do not fully understand how I am truly just trying my best to navigate these uncharted and unprecedented scenarios/days that I never thought I would have to be in a position to handle. Closing our shop wasn’t a right or wrong decision—to me it was a necessity. People wanting me to do more than I can emotionally for the business because what I have left in me needs to be focused on my 3-month-old daughter right now.

AW: What is encouraging you right now?

PS: The extreme support, love and kindness those in our community have gone out of their way to show me and the business. Fellow small businesses who are just as fearful and uncertain, reaching out to see how they can help us in any way, from offering their services, time and even product. It’s a true testament to the people who own small businesses; it takes so much guts and it also takes a special kind of person who gives what they can, even if there’s not much to give right now.

Also, the look on my infant daughter’s face when she flashes a gummy smile.

AW: How can people support your business right now?

PS: We are accepting orders through our online shop! Placing an online order with physical items allows me to have work for our employees to do. 90 percent of the physical paper goods on our online shop is printed from a local Austin printer (an older couple who also employs their son with special needs to run their printers in their warehouse), [so] this will allow me to continue to print from them and provide them with business.

How has coronavirus affected your business and your daily routine? Send us an email to potentially be featured in our Quarantine Diaries!


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