A blog from Army&You’s winter 2022 edition by Suzanne Kavanagh @anniebeauaccessories

Less than one year into our dream posting to Cyprus schools and businesses shut and we were only allowed to leave the house for one walk a day, it was hard to believe how quickly and drastically life had changed.

As much as I loved the quality family time during lockdown, I need to keep busy. To have this taken away was a huge struggle. At the time, I owned an alterations business on camp, which couldn’t continue. When the rule of face masks came in, I began receiving messages asking if I would make them. I knew that I needed to use my skills and do my bit for the pandemic; and so my (third) baby was born – Annie Beau Accessories.

After putting an ad on the community Facebook page, I was inundated with orders and subsequently spent most evenings sewing hundreds of face masks. I’ve never complained about not having anything to do since!

Realising that I enjoyed smaller scale sewing and selling a product rather than a service, I started making matching headbands, scrunchies and hair bows. The military community in Cyprus were so supportive of my little business and I will forever be grateful for how they helped it grow. Some days I’d be on the school run and I’d count how many people I could see wearing my accessories – that was always a proud moment.

Working from a military quarter can be challenging. I’ve gone from having the entire top floor, to now a desk in the corner of a very small dining room and all my fabrics in a cardboard box.

Now that both my children are in school, I have more time during the day and it feels more like a ‘normal’ job as I’m not having to put all the hours in during my evenings. It can get overwhelming when lots of orders come in at the same time and you’re the only person responsible for making them, but I’ve learnt to be honest when the wait time is going to be longer than usual. Nearly all of my customers are military mums so they understand that life can get in the way sometimes.

Army life can be so hard when you’re constantly having to start from scratch and make new friends, but having a business is a good way of meeting new people. I feel lucky to be in a position where something I love doing has turned into a business, and that it’s one I can take with me wherever the army sends us.

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