It’s a small world after all

This small but dedicated team continues to weather the pandemic storm.

23 October 2020 | Business

Gerine Hoff

There is almost no industry in the country that has not borne the brunt of Covid-19, but along with the hospitality industry, the events sector is also going through deep waters.

“I think I can speak for everyone in the events industry when I say that we’ve really had a tough time,” says wedding and events planner Monika Breytenbach of Piccolo Mondo (which means ‘small world’) in the capital, and who has been involved in this industry for more than 25 years.

“Since the first lockdown we have not been allowed to do any events, and financially it’s been a rollercoaster.”

However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. “With the easing of restrictions, we can slowly but surely restart with events. Still, it is not easy since only a maximum of 50 people are allowed, which is not a lot for a wedding or a big event. But we’re doing our best to jump over these hurdles and to remain positive,” she says.

When it comes to her and her staff’s survival, she is quick to thank her husband, “because without him, we would not have survived,” she says.

During the lockdown period, the team decided to work on a skeleton staff basis. “We were closed for a couple of weeks as well, because it simply was not viable to remain open. At the moment they are still on a 50% pay reduction, which is terrible for me. Thankfully they are a wonderful team and they just said that ‘we are in this together’. Once things go back to normal, we will reimburse them.”

She adds that while she and her staff try to remain positive, the situation remains difficult for them. “When you’re used to a certain salary and then suddenly it’s less, it’s a challenge.”

However, things are looking brighter. “Events are starting to pick up and everyone in the industry is hoping that soon restrictions to allow more than 50 people per event. Thankfully, many of my brides decided that rather than cancelling their wedding completely, they are just postponing to next year. So, I’m hoping next year we are going to be really, really busy!”

While many events companies are battling, Breytenbach feels that most industry players have realised that now is the time to stick together. “There is no such thing anymore that everyone can do things their own way. We have to help each other.”

In this light, Breytenbach says she’s working on developing an internship programme, so that someone who has lost their job or is interested in the events industry, can come on board.

Piccolo Mondo doesn’t only do wedding planning, but the décor set-up of any event, which includes flowers. And they work within any budget with different packages available.

In terms of what’s popular in at the moment, Breytenbach says she isn’t a copycat and prefers individual styling. “But currently big, bold flowers are very much in fashion, as well as the Bohemian look.”

Answering the tongue-in-cheek question on how she handles “bridezillas” (and their mothers), she says: “I’ve been fortunate never to have very difficult brides. Perhaps because I’m older than my brides, I think I’ve learned how to handle it.”

Looking ahead

Besides the company’s “day job”, one of the things Breytenbach and her team are looking forward to is creating a small coffee shop inside Piccolo Mondo.

“It all happened during lockdown. I realised we’re going to have to do something to generate an extra income. Besides the light and health-conscious dishes that we’ll have available, the big thing is actually the coffee. We’ll be using locally roasted, wood-fired beans that have a really amazing taste. It is something out of this world!” she says.

Also, in a bid to support the entertainment industry and to lighten peoples’ sombre mood, Breytenbach says she’s working on plans to get musicians to perform at the business premises. For a small fee, guests will be able enjoy a light meal and a glass of wine while they relax to the sounds of local artists.

They’re planning to start with this in November and will continue with these plans into the new year, so watch this space!

Piccolo Mondo is located in Hyper Motor City in Windhoek. Contact her at 061 241 669, [email protected] or visit her Facebook page.

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