I am Claire Emma Harris, founder of my own British based luxury lingerie – Emma Harris.
The early months of 2020 saw new business relationships blooming, with both current and new stockists and my loyal customer base loving my new collections. My newly designed collection Melody was proving a huge hit & the orders for the upcoming months were greater than expected. 2020 was looking very promising.
Then Covid-19 hit.
Thinking back, I was glued to the news, waiting for more information, learning more about Covid-19 as the story unfolded. That’s how I remember the first few weeks of March 2020.
What followed was a period of uncertainty; how will this virus affect our lives, our professions & our businesses?
The Emma Harris atelier produces beautiful lingerie and loungewear which is sold into luxury retailers the world over. As retailers shut their doors, these orders were put on hold. This meant that the larger orders which my staff produce daily, dried up, they had no work & I felt powerless to provide the work which they need for their income. As a business owner, in particular a small business owner, you do feel very responsible for your staff & therefore I had to stop and think – what do I need to do to keep my business running and my staff in their jobs?
I’ve always applied a flexible approach to my business, with wholesale, drop ship & direct to client orders collectively combining to form one main business. With wholesale orders nonexistent, now was the time to innovate!
I concentrated on offering drop shipping and website orders; and giving both retailers and consumers an even better deal – knowing that even though that presented me a financial challenge, it would hopefully pay off longer term. Thinking that this may be the time when loungewear that could be worn in furlough as needed, I quickly designed and produced my new Everyday Essential collection – Anais. To my delight, that paid off with a lot of interest from retailers and my loyal customers and increased new orders.
I’ve reached out to influencers to help promote brand recognition & as I have more time, social media posts are being posted more frequently. This is becoming a growth period for my brand.
I have a bricks and mortar business, an atelier & a team of skilled staff. Although I am a small business, I do have essential business costs to cover. However, my sleek, sharp approach to lingerie production is really proving it’s worth right now. I produce to order, which keeps stock costs to an absolute minimum. Minimum stock = no supplier bills pending. It’s also a very special and unique way to sell luxury items. When orders are placed; we pick up our scissors & literally get cutting.
Along with moulding my business to curve to the current way of life, I have entered into a new business territory, by temporarily offering part of my studio as a supplier to the NHS. Some of my staff may not be working on Emma Harris at the moment, but they are keeping their skills alive. Sewing skills are learnt over a long period of time, nimble fingers remain skilled by using them frequently and what a lovely project to be working on. We are very proud to be supporting the NHS and I believe, if you can help, then you should.
All in all, this may have been a turbulent time, but I feel optimistic – there is nothing like adversity to make you pull out your best work and I’m proud that we have been able to do that while supporting our retail partners and customers too. Here’s to the future!