When I decided to start writing about my journey, I had a whole plan for the first ten blog posts. It broadly outlined all the things I would talk about. According to that plan this post was to be about digital printing and the process I follow while I create my prints. However the world hasn’t really been accommodating of our plans this year, has it? Everything has changed drastically over the past couple of months and COVID-19 has occupied a large space in everyone’s mind.
Many people all over the world have been affected in more ways than one. Jobs have been lost, families displaced and the tragic loss of loved ones. It didn’t feel right to carry on with my plan and talk about “Digital Printing”. It seemed so irrelevant at a time like this and I just couldn't get myself to do it. I haven’t posted a blog for three months now, again going against my original plan of having a blog post up every month. I finally decided I wanted to share my experience of managing a small business during a global pandemic and how it has changed my thought process with regards to my business.
In the midst of a global pandemic, fashion almost seems irrelevant. However, it is a big part of me and it’s what has kept me going. Fashion extends beyond just a pretty dress on a runway. It connects people, it employs people, it inspires and it brings joy. At a time like this I think we all need to be reminded of simple pleasures that exist around us.
People were washing their hands excessively and using face masks to protect themselves. While speaking to a friend she told me about how she had not been able to get a mask for herself, thanks to people panic buying and was afraid to step out to buy essentials. This made me think, and I decided to make a DIY video to help people make their own face mask, using an old t-shirt/material that they would have at home.
I honestly had no plans of making them to sell. But reality hit, as people weren’t ordering clothing and all my custom orders were on hold – no events were happening and people weren’t going anywhere. There was absolutely no income coming in. Resources were very limited since we were still in a lockdown, so I had to work with materials that were already available with me. Most face masks were disposable and not helping the overflowing landfill situation. I decided to start making reusable cotton masks. They are eco-friendly and can be washed and re-used and are slightly more comfortable as they are made out of cotton. Also, working with material that I already had in stock was more sustainable and that is something I always like to keep in mind while working on a product.
When you run a small business you don’t have a large cash reserve, whatever you make ends up going back into the business and this helps the business scale and grow. So when that regular flow of incomes comes to an absolute standstill it is very difficult to keep going. I also wanted to give my tailors an opportunity to work on something and earn money. The tailors I work with are employed on a job-work basis. So this means that, as and when I have a collection to produce or a custom piece to make I employ them to work on the project and pay them accordingly. Some of them had travelled back to their home town while some remained in the city, trying to get work. I was lucky to have a whole bunch of you amazing people support me during this time, whether it was buying a mask, placing an order or shopping from our Sale section.
Talking about our Sale, I never run Sales on our collections usually because I don’t keep high profit margins and discounting pieces just doesn’t turn out to be sustainable for the business. But like I mentioned I was working with what I had and I had a bunch of stock with me on hand and decided to discount those pieces and sell them without contributing to more production. Another reason was to give people the opportunity to buy something without feeling too much of a pinch in a time where most people are dealing with financial constraints. A win-win!
Apart from this it has really made me think and scrutinise the way I have been working and running K.Kristina for the past (well almost) 6 years! I want to give more meaning to each piece that is created, something that goes even further into telling a story and something that is valued by the person who ends up owning it. It has always been about quality and not quantity and that is something I will retain. Money is in the numbers when it comes to fashion and apparel in general, however I believe we can be more mindful as manufactures and educate our customers in investing in quality products and not going for something that isn’t made to last, just because it is a lower price.
From a business stand point I think it is always important to adapt and change in order to survive, however we need to value the people that work with us and make sure our customers understand that value when they see it, in something they buy. It is not just a product to use for a while and then discard, but something to cherish, preserve and pass down to future generations.
The past month I have been working on some ideas, and thinking about how to incorporate these values into my products. Hopefully, I will be able to share more details with you all soon. But for now I hope reading this makes you just as excited for new and better, more mind-full things that are yet to come.
Lots of Love,