2020 has been nothing short of unusual. Everyone across the world has felt the stress of uncertainty, particularly those who work in the travel industry. In trying times, you will often hear people say, ‘keep going’ and to ‘keep being resilient’. Resilience is something BAME Women In Travel’s Break Through to Excellence guest Dee Gibson is familiar with. As an interior designer and Hotelier, Dee reflects on how she approaches hardship and has turned this year’s business challenges into new opportunities. And provided helpful tips and tricks to try.
Dee is a London-based interior designer and Hotelier, a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur with a career in interior design spanning two decades. In 2017 Dee built Kalukanda House, a boutique hotel in Sri Lanka offering an authentic holiday experience. 2020 has seen COVID-19 pause the travel and tourism industry, but a year before Sri Lanka was victim to a terrorist attack. Dee hadn’t had an easy ride and these factors have impacted her initial vision for Kalukanda House. But Dee notes that resilience is the product of hardship, you can’t have one without the other.
Dee’s approach to transforming hardship into resilience consists of 3 steps:
Allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself (for a few days) and don’t beat yourself up for feeling the emotion
- Conduct damage limitation
Take a breath and to buy yourself some time, look around and figure out what you need in the here and now
Look for opportunities rather than making knee jerk decisions that don’t suit you in the long term.
And, apply a Kintsugi perspective. Kintsugi is a Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery by filling the cracks with gold, instead of glue. The practice of putting pieces of an item back together and including a new aspect creates something as beautiful as the original, while highlighting the journey it’s been on- or its resilience.
Dee notes Kintsugi has been instrumental throughout the pandemic as it has provided the opportunity to talk to other business owners and form partnerships that, under normal circumstances, may not have been formed. Dee expands on this, comparing the initial first months of lockdown to being ‘caught in a traffic jam’. Her business was put on hold but instead of making one of those ‘knee jerk decisions’, she found an alternative route.
By reaching out to other business owners and entrepreneurs like a Sri Lankan writer, a bespoke tea blender and creator of heirloom jewellery collaborations blossomed; leading to a further snowball effect with others of creativity and partnership. Dee explains the idea of collaborating with other businesses and individuals was one already in the making but had been put on the backburner. By breathing ‘new energy’ into an existing idea, Dee applied Kintsugi by evaluating ‘where the cracks are and how I can fill them with gold’. The result being Kalukanda House remaining relevant in clients conscious throughout the pandemic, while Dee built successful new relationships with other business owners.
Dee’s career and experience are a testament to the power of resilience and the importance of putting ‘one foot in front of the other’ in times of hardship. But we could all do with taking a bit of gold and creating something beautiful.
To listen to Dee Gibson’s on BAME Women In Travel- Break Through to Excellence Podcast please visit the link below
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