Covid Made Me Think About Closing Down My Business, Until I Found A New Revenue Stream! [Update]

Published: April 11th, 2023
Judith Treanor
Temples and Markets
from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
started February 2015
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

I am Judith, the Founder of the online curated and ethical store Temples and Markets, where every product has a story. I launched the store in 2015 and I showcase sustainable accessories, bags, jewelry, and home decor unique to South East Asia.

Most products are handmade from sustainable and or recycled materials.

My customers are generally high-mid demographic females who are interested in unique gifts with a sustainable edge.

My best-selling products are from Zsiska Design (jewelry) and water hyacinth basket bags from artisans in Northern Thailand.

After 2 years of Covid, I was contemplating closing my business as things had been so tough. However, I had a much better year in 2022 ending up 14% on the previous year’s revenue in-store sales alone. However, I was able to also find an additional lucrative revenue stream which I shall speak about below.

It can take years and years to see sustainable income from your business, and those years will be full of ups and downs.



Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

My additional revenue stream in the past year has helped to turn things around for my business. The pandemic made 2021 the toughest year so far.

In 2022 I wasn’t sure if I’d keep the business going full-time. However, I decided to pursue my connected business The Pop UCollective more rigorously. The Pop Up Collective was formed in 2017 to ‘do bricks and mortar retail differently’ and was a means to bring retailers together to share pop-up shops and curated events.

There weren’t many opportunities for The Pop Up Collective during the pandemic, however, that changed in 2022. Sydney had experienced record-breaking rainfall meaning that outdoor markets were frequently canceled.

I saw the opportunity to create a pop-up indoor marketplace in a building due for redevelopment. I rented the space but charged 20 or so vendors each week the stall holder fee.

This was a short-term project because I didn’t have a long lease on the property, however, something else came out of it - a monthly night market event called Shop and Sip at a very popular beachfront pub. I’ve created a unique shopping event unlike anything else in Sydney.

Revenue-wise - I charge the stall holders $120 for their space. Our Christmas market had 30 stall holders, making it the biggest event so far, Shop and Sip began in June 2022.

In addition to Shop and Sip, I’ve also put more investment into stock for my adjunct store Beach Kaftans I used this business in the past to purchase clothes for my regular summer pop-up shops. Fashion tends to bring customers into bricks and mortar stores.

This past year I diversified more when it came to the wholesale fashion I brought in. I used the wholesale website Faire to purchase resort wear for the pop-up I did Oct-Dec ‘22 which was pretty successful. Revenue for Beach Kaftans fashion in the Oct-Dec pop-up alone was $6200 (just over the revenue for my longer-running store Temples and Markets in the same pop-up shop).

Another string to my bow has been assisting other brands to activate pop-up shops for an agreed fee. I recently helped international homewares brand Villeroy & Boch activate a successful 3-month Christmas pop-up in Sydney.


What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

Retail is getting harder and harder due to current cost of living pressures, and rising interest rates. Every sale is a challenge as consumers have less disposable income to be spending on nonessential items. Bricks-and-mortar retail in its traditional form is just no longer a viable concern on its own.

I did a 2 ½ month pop-up shop Oct-Dec ‘22 but it was evident that the big sales (multiple item purchases) only came through once I’d discounted the price of my items. Consumers rarely want to pay full price for anything any longer. We’ve trapped them in a never-ending sales cycle.

We have to keep finding new ways to attract consumers and make shopping a unique experience.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

One thing leads to another. The indoor marketplace I created in March-May 2022 was incredibly stressful. Market stallholders will always blame everyone but themselves or forces out of anyone’s control for their lack of sales. Inevitably I copped their criticism as the curator of the market.

However, that stressful experience led to something wonderful - the Shop and Sip monthly night market events at a nearby beautiful pub. The activations team at that pub had seen what I was doing at the indoor marketplace and reached out to me for this collaboration.

Do take time out for yourself and enjoy the things that bring you happiness, and try and balance life and work.

I have always said that small business owners shouldn’t be afraid to let their businesses evolve or branch out into different revenue streams. I keep learning that lesson, and it's a good one!

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Now we are on the other side of the pandemic restrictions, and travel is back on the agenda, My store Temples and Markets came out of traveling to S.E Asia originally, and it has been very hard to keep sourcing products and maintaining my enthusiasm without traveling to that region. That will change this coming year.

I will also keep looking out for market curation opportunities. Consumers in Sydney seem to enjoy shopping events as opposed to traditional bricks and mortar shopping so I will keep creating events to keep them coming out and spending, and supporting small local businesses.

I don’t tend to think long-term in life or business so I won’t answer “what are the plans for the next 5 years”. A cancer experience in 2006 meant that I live for today not in 5 years!

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

Brazen by Julia Haart. Julia’s exodus from the Hassidic life she’d been in for decades, and her success later in life as a fashion designer and business owner, demonstrates that anything can happen in life, and you just have to go for it!

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?

Do not expect success to come overnight, and don’t measure success in terms of $ only. It can take years and years to see sustainable income from your business, and those years will be full of ups and downs. Some things are out of control and if your business was not meant to be then so be it.

There are too many same businesses out there so be unique and know your niche/demographic. As a curator of markets, I see too many jewelry/candle/skincare brands and I’ve no idea how they think theirs should be any more successful than another unless there’s something very unique about theirs.

Do take time out for yourself and enjoy the things that bring you happiness, and try and balance life and work. Exercise, healthy eating, and spending time in nature are all as important to a successful and fulfilling business life as working your butt off!

Where can we go to learn more?