When Erin Jamieson established the Sensory Studio in Fairy Meadow, her plan was to gradually grow the business through bricks and mortar retail, an online store could wait.
This all changed when the pandemic arrived.
"As soon as COVID hit it amplified the need for us to move online pretty quickly, so I think we turned around the website within a week," said Ms Jamieson.
At the time, the store had barely been open for four months, however Ms Jamieson quickly found a much wider market.
"Being online, we're able to access communities from Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, so that kept us going," she said.
The rapid growth online demonstrated the wide need for Ms Jamieson's business. The store sells sensory, education and wellness resources for babies and toddlers through to adults and is an inclusive store that caters for all abilities.
In store, this has meant creating a safe space where parents, carers, teachers, children and adults can browse without feeling judged. Online, the diverse needs of the customer base also needed to be taken into account.
"I've tried to keep it simple and accessible to appeal to a wide range. Kids can shop online and I've got elderly people shopping online," Ms Jamieson said.
Efforts to build a community among those who shopped at Sensory Studio also moved to online, with Zoom calls for for a mothers group running once a week.
Plans are now underway to expand the business, but just as important, Ms Jamieson said, has been the ability of those going through similar experiences to connect.
"The other day I had three or four women in the store. They're all feeling much the same, having a bit of a hard time and we all ended up grabbing a coffee and having a chat about it.
"It's lovely to have that support for other parents going through similar situations and have a chat in a safe, secure way, knowing that there's no judgement."
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