Everybody’s got one, their story for the year 2020. As the year comes to a close we thought we’d share ours. Ours is a tale of separation, desperation, relief and hope. 2019 saw our family with a new opportunity, the chance to start a life in a new country and experience an eastern culture very different to what we knew. I was courted for a new job as creative director for a company in Singapore so we packed up our life in Cape Town and I flew over to get started while the rest of the family moved back to Durban for what was supposed to be a few months prior to joining me in Singapore.

Fast forward 6 months to January 2020 and I found myself redundant, serving 3 months notice and scrambling to secure a new role during the traditionally quiet period following Christmas up until the end of Chinese New Year. And then Covid19 reared its head and struck with a force that had the world reeling and our family separated. I was locked down in Singapore and the family locked down in temporary accommodation in Durban. With prospects dwindling in Singapore and Covid looking set to become a more long term problem our efforts turned to repatriation or face being separated far longer than any of us wanted. From the end of my notice in March until May we frantically joined every repatriating group we could, contacted embassies and political parties to ensure my name was included on every list possible to be able to return home. The mental and emotional strain on Zee (at home with two young boys, temporary home, home schooling) and me (alone in Singapore) was immense with every day bringing stories of disappointment by people failing to get home, airlines or governments letting them down and opportunists looking to profit off peoples desperation, all countered by stories of hope, solidarity and sometimes blind faith that everything would turn out OK! Finally on the 15th May I began the long journey home, Singapore – Kuala Lumpur – Doha – Johannesburg – Durban, through largely deserted airports, exhausted travellers with heartwarming and tragic stories.

After two weeks quarantine in Johannesburg we were finally reunited in Durban on the 25th May almost a full 5 months after returning to Singapore in January. But what now? We’d last lived in Durban in 2014 and although we’d stayed connected through family we didn’t have the work and social networks we had in Cape Town and with lockdown, Covid concerns and most companies working from home how do we get over the disappointment of not being in a new country, reset and restart our lives?

During lockdown in Singapore I began watching some inspiring creatives @ChrisDo @PhilipVanDusen and their respective teams, consultants and guests as well as @JohnAshton copy writer, friend of one of my first creative directors – @BillWallsgrove and author of the ebook The Kitchen Table Method. The first seeds of the idea that we could create our own business were planted, doing what we love and offering our expertise and experience to help others, other agencies, entrepreneurs and small companies and even some of the larger companies? You never know.

So our fledgeling Crombie Creative company began, myself, Barry, with my packaging and branding experience and my wife, Zee with her studio and production management combined with web design. With the support of some wonderful companies I connected with in Singapore #DesignBridge #NiCEdesign #HolmesandMarchant #WhyBrandDesign and some old SA connections #FountainheadDesign #LemonadeDesign we’ve managed to scrape through this disaster of a year and look forward to what next year will bring. Happy New Year to all our friends, family, colleagues, connections and contacts. If anyone wants to reconnect, share experiences, hear some more of our story or even wish to be part of our story going forward like, share and comment…here’s to a great 2021