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December 2020: We're Celebrating 9 years!

What a year! Trips were cancelled, school was online, and employees worked remotely. So many families spent more time at home and in their yards than in as long as I can remember. That translated to valuing a thoughtfully-designed residential landscape more than ever before. We're so thankful that our build team works outside so they can feel safe while able to make a living, and that we could fulfill at least some of the demand that came across our desks. I'm also thankful that our clients were understanding that timeframes and office life meant something completely different in a year where kids were Zooming for class in the background of both sides of our screens during Zoom design presentations because we were all in the same boat.

As a business owner, this year was rough emotionally. For a few weeks, we were uncertain if landscape construction would be considered "essential" in Austin, and we went ahead and paid all of our employees full paychecks while we waited it out. This was a gamble that paid off because (hallelujah) we were awarded a PPP loan and kept the doors open. Well, more than that, we kept our team together and the momentum on our projects. Design never stopped since we in the office could work remotely, so we played a bit of catch up while trying to adjust to the schedule that this crazy year imposed on us. There were delays in ways we couldn't predict, like plant unavailability, material shortages, and reduced hours of the stores and distributers we rely on.

I like to reflect on my year though an app called 1 Second Everyday for both my personal and business photos and videos. See video below for the OES 2020 mash. Watching it, I feel so proud of the kind of projects we took on this year, including more complex built work than ever before, like roof decks (that we couldn't photograph because the pandemic hit), workshops, fountain + fire features, screened porches...I love how exciting the design needs have been and that our clients trust that we'll come up with something cool they couldn't picture initially and that we go on a collaborative journey together. At the end of this year, we're currently working on our 127th built project.

Since my 2016 1 Second Everyday post HERE, there are a few notable ways we've grown: we expanded our design office by hiring more designers; we are no longer working out of our detached office behind our house and are now located at 828 Airport Blvd, Studio 1 in Austin, TX...although we did spend some quality time in that office for much of this pandemic; and we were able to provide full health insurance benefits for our employees this year. The last one is huge - as a small company, that always felt out of reach, but we know now more than ever, we want to support our employees and make sure everyone is healthy.

My resting state is that of positivity, so even with all the crazy the year has thrown at us, I want to capture all that was good, so that when we look back 10+ years from now, I'll see this instead of the anxiety memes I shared on my Insta stories. Here's to a better 2021, our 10th year as a design/build firm. We already have so many exciting projects in the books.

-Angelica Norton

Co-founder of OES


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