Most retail operations are struggling right now, but fashion businesses find themselves in a unique position to turn challenge into opportunity. Foot traffic and event-based sales have all but disappeared, while demand for basic protective equipment such as masks and gowns has skyrocketed.
Here are two fashion companies finding new ways to do business during this time of uncertainty and unpredictability, with help from their JumpStart advisors.
Valerie Mayen | Yellowcake Shop
Project Runway alum and Core City: Cleveland Impact Program grad Valerie Mayen built her fashion business around luxury clothing, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out many of the events Yellowcake Shop relies on for revenue, leaving her wondering what to do next.
So, she went back to basics and started selling simple white face masks along with a “buy one, donate one” option to help get more masks to organizations in need. As demand increased, she partnered with other local creatives to launch a new line of coronavirus-inspired clothing, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Cleveland Food Bank.
“It’s a win-win, as we can provide income for sewers who need it and masks for health-care workers who are requesting them.”
– Valerie Mayen, in Freshwater Cleveland
Mayen has worked with many JumpStart advisors since completing the Core City: Cleveland Impact program. Most recently, she has been working closely with Venture Partner Anne Richie, who has served as a critical advisor and a sounding board during a time of great uncertainty.
“Valerie is naturally curious and forward-thinking. She also knows what she’s best at and when to ask for ideas and input from others,” said Richie. “That’s a really important part of making the right adjustments at the right time. Entrepreneurs often feel like they are on an island and it only gets worse during times like this, so it’s important to know when to seek counsel to get a diverse range of ideas and help you make the best decisions.”
Nicholas Harper | Eden Couture
Nicholas Harper’s Eden Couture has also made the most of this challenging time. Before COVID, the Northwest Ohio Impact Program participant was building his business around custom garments, high-end tailoring and image consultation. But when the pandemic canceled prom season, he lost the majority of his spring revenue.
Reading news about mask shortages and luxury brands converting their operations to make protective equipment inspired him to join in. So, he partnered with one of his bulk fabric providers to get the templates and the supplies and started sewing. His designs have found homes as far away as Florida and he is now partnering with Toledo nonprofit Connecting Kids to Meals to provide staff with protective masks.
“I’ve truly enjoyed working with Nick through the Impact Program and even more so during this difficult time,” said Adam Salon, one of Harper’s main JumpStart advisors. “Without hesitation, he pivoted to transform his business to meet the needs of the community amidst the outbreak. We’re continuously talking about margins and strategy and how he can come out of this situation stronger than before.”
To read more stories about how JumpStart client companies are making a difference in the midst of COVID-19, click here.