Marnie Wears Henry Bib Apron in Charcoal with Tan Straps
ELK is a Melbourne based fashion label founded 16 years ago. We design contemporary collections for women with sustainability and ethical production at our core.
I am certain that this will be the single biggest challenge we will ever face in business. We have been overwhelmed with support from our customers and are inspired by the way our independent stockists are evolving and adapting to cope through this time.
The grace and humility shown by our team has been a beautiful thing to see as well - so we are drawing on this energy of support and reinventing ourselves to make sure we come out the other side.
To act quickly. This situation is moving so fast that it is difficult to plan but there’s danger in waiting.
By nature we are risk averse and have grown slowly and carefully so making rapid, major decisions is not necessarily in our nature! We were given the advice to make changes quickly, to make decisions and produce a plan, rapidly halting any risk of sinking ourselves and our team right at the start.
So we did and even though every decision made was tough, it not only minimised long term damage it provided our team of 110 people clarity early on and helped us to provide leadership in a time that was vitally important.
Effective and consistent communication is the key to connection. I speak regularly to our own management team ensuring that we are providing the right information to make their teams feel looped in and to keep morale high.
We use systems like Flexibuzz for weekly updates, we have regular Zoom meetings and for the broader audience we use EDM’s and social media. We made the decision right at the start of this period to fight with all our might to get through and we have made sure that our team know this because they too are right there with us…..we are going to come out swinging!
We have an amazing network of people around us who act as supporters, advisors and counselors. The situation we all find ourselves in is unprecedented and we are all trying to figure things out as we go. Learning from each other, sharing resources and lending a hand will be one of the tools for all of us getting through; its community spirit.
To keep your customers aware of your position. Be honest with them and open to what you can and can't do.
You cannot afford to stop marketing - no news may lead them to assume you aren’t open. Also careful consideration around language is key. Our team are mindful that many of us are feeling quite fragile so a gentle, kind approach to language and marketing initiatives is important - you need to almost nurture your customers through this period so that they are with you on the other side.
We have always boasted of a very connected team but I do think after this that their awareness of the fragility of business may lead to an even deeper appreciation for what it means to work in a family owned business.
We work with the responsibility of not only our business on our shoulders but also that of our suppliers. They are doing it harder than most as we work with many in developing countries. I hope that our team will feel more invested in the broader success of ELK because we've all seen how quickly this can change.
We are all in this together and will emerge from the ashes more connected, with real clarity of what's important in life and maybe a little bit of cabin fever!