Combating COVID-19 challenges like a boss (For designers)
I don’t want to bore you with the obvious as everyone is well aware of the grave situation that is looming overhead all of us with the countrywide lockdown that has adversely impacted the entire fashion and retail industry to which none of us are an exception to, and has brought severe distress to the cash flow of many designers and SME fashion entrepreneurs.
Hopefully, in the next 3-6 months, the negative effects of COVID-19 should start to taper off and countries and economies should bounce back strongly with renewed strength & enthusiasm. But until then, it is imperative that in order to tide through the current crisis, we need to take some concrete steps to safeguard our collective future. So our team at GetNatty thought of a few points as stated below that might be of help to overcome the challenges as a designerpreneur in the time to come.
1) Contacting FDCI for support funds – FDCI has taken the lead to set up a COVID-19 Support Fund (CSF by FDCI) to provide financial assistance to small businesses and young designers in need. For further details, please write to at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) Cut down on monthly expenses & increase your runway – I know this sounds like common sense, but it’s important to understand that while you can do very little to cut down on fixed expenses, you still can cut down on the majority of your variable expenses such as any third party retainers, marketing and promotion expenditure, and allied business expenses wherever possible. The next 2 quarters are going to be the most crucial, and hence having a longer financial runway is going to help your business survive so do what you can to reduce cash outflow.
3) Force majeure – The legal term you should know – Force majeure is basically an event or effect that can be neither anticipated nor controlled. It is a contractual provision providing temporary reprieve to a party from performing its obligations under a contract upon the occurrence of a force majeure event. So if and when you need to use this legal provision to safeguard your business against any third parties with whom you have entered into an agreement with but are not being cooperative in these rough times, then you can invoke this clause to provide interim relief from the liabilities arising as a result of non-performance during this critical period.
4) Revisit your business model – Only those businesses who will succeed in revamping their business model to meet the needs of the time are the ones that are going to survive in the long run. So, it’s very important that you use this downtime to the best of your advantage and think of new ways of growing your business both during and post COVID-19 period. Focus on what has worked for you, what has not worked for you, and what you think is something new or innovative that is worth trying out. Whether you should start adopting more to online methods of doing business such as using third party video streaming apps (New GetNatty App coming soon with this feature) for showcasing products online and engaging your customers or tweak your product offerings such as introducing a completely new line of products, or figure out a new way to sell more, or generate revenue from a totally different source, whatever it is – you do what you need to do to sustain and to keep your business ahead of the game despite all the odds.
5) Make products that are more wearable and sell-able – Spend some time thinking about the products and collections that will not necessarily look good on the ramp, but are actually more wearable and will move quickly. Be creative for sure, but at the same time be even more practical and think from the point of view of a customer. It’s important to understand that whether you are an established designer brand or an emerging one, consumers today, for the next 3-6 months at least and probably, even more, are going to cut down on their monthly expenses due to the economic downturn and may look for products that are easier to wear on regular days and are perhaps also quite easy on their pockets. So it’s imperative that the next line of collection that you develop is done keeping in mind their present expectations and requirements.
6) Figure out a hygiene factor as one of the key USPs – By now it is obvious that people’s social interaction habits are going to see a shift which includes placing more importance on the hygiene factor in the time to come. So, in order to make the most of that opportunity, think about what it is that your brand can do to tap into that change to stay relevant and create brand recall value. Is there a hygiene factor that you can bring in the way your product is made? or in the way, the raw materials are sourced? or is there something you can do to your product’s packaging? or is there a unique hygiene factor that you can implement at your store? Like it or not, as a business owner you need to use every opportunity you get to your own advantage and provide a favorable shopping experience to your clients.
7) Donate your efforts – Fashion brands around the world have shown a lot of great examples of using their craft skills to make protective masks and gowns from their existing or leftover materials and distribute them to hospitals, healthcare workers, NGOs, and others. This very kind gesture has the potential to not just save lives but also generate a lot of goodwill and positive word of mouth for your brand. If you are looking for an NGO in Mumbai that is distributing masks to healthcare workers then reach out to Shroff foundation or you can contact your local municipality’s civil hospital and donate your efforts.
8) Take care of your people – Lastly, In these times of distress, the media and the people in general around us don’t always make it very easy to stay upbeat. So, as a business owner, we must realize that the number one responsibility that we have is to keep everyone motivated who works for you directly and indirectly and to keep the morale high as there is a lot to get done not just right now, but most importantly after the lock-down is lifted. The real battle is yet to begin, one that we will have to fight for the next 3-6 months at least. And a positive-can-do attitude and having each other’s backs will go a long way to help us all sail through.
Hope all this makes sense. It’s the times like these that truly test the quality of entrepreneurs, businesses and the people who rally behind them. And if you have survived thus far through your passion, dedication & perseverance, then I am sure that you shall continue to not just survive but also thrive in the coming years and reach the pinnacle of success in our fashion industry.
Among-st all this, you please make sure to take care of especially yourself and your families. Stay safe.
Founder & CEO