Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns have put tremendous pressure on the global economy, with New Zealand being no exception.
TEXT: ADAM BRYCE
Extreme times like these are renowned for changing the way that businesses and industries operate — creating innovative productivity methods and new ways to communicate and manufacture.
Here, we speak to Ingrid Starnes about her namesake fashion label, Ingrid Starnes.
Have you implemented any changes that you will keep post-lockdown?
We already used Slack to communicate between the stores and the workroom but have, like everyone, added Zoom calls that work really well to involve everyone at once. We’re going to be bringing more ways for customers to talk to the team, and see the clothes and our online offering. It may be some time before people are visiting shops and trying on clothes as per the old normal. And we’ll be working to make clothes that we see a need for in today’s climate.
What have been your biggest take-away lessons from this time?
That we are all so connected and part of a community. The businesses that make it through a disruption of this size, are those with a strong community around them and customers who want to support them and see more from them. But, at the bigger scale, that’s the same with everything. We need to grow the things we value and care for the things that need supporting. It’s been really lovely to have this pause and see the care for people out there.
In what ways has the lockdown forced you to adjust future plans for your business?
In very large ways. We had been at full stretch opening an exciting new retail store which, now, will be launching in a whole new world and a real challenge for viability. We have also opened an equity crowdfund to offer a way to bring our community into the business, so we can bolster working capital to ride out this period and grow out of this stronger, together. We want to have a wider circle of people to share the journey with, shape the offering, and learn and grow with. It will be vital to keep doing what we are doing.
Tell us about the low moments and successes you’ve experienced and how they’ve affected your vision.
There have certainly been some hard moments. They’ve made us decide whether we would be swept away or try to find a way to make sure we can get through this, keep working with the local industry and keep our team. That’s what led us to try this new and brave and scary thing, in a crowdfund. We wanted to find a way and that has led to something with real hope for a new model. The response has been amazing so far, and that is really heartening and humbling and a huge responsibility.