'We are not laying any of our team off. We cannot do that especially at this time.'
'It will be hard for them to find other jobs now and we will not let our team down now.'
Kaveri Lalchand, the Chennai designer, works purely with linen.
Since she founded her label K Clothing in 2011, Kaveri says she has never had a dull moment.
From a single store in Kodambakkam in Chennai, the designer has expanded her brand to Kochi and Mumbai and employs over 100 people.
The prolonged lockdown has forced Kaveri and her team to shut down stores and look at new ways to retain talent and push online sales.
"As an individual and as a company, I stress on TEAM WORK a lot so I have been in touch with everyone to keep their morale, spirits and dedication high," Kaveri tells Divya Nair/Rediff.com.
How are you dealing with the lockdown?
We have a large team of 110 people which includes tailors, pattern masters, embroidery karigars, printing staff, sales staff, admin etc.
All my stores are closed and we have no sales at all. That is why we have been working on online sales and have been active on social media to keep the brand alive and connecting with customers through posts and interactions
How do you motivate your employees?
We have all been in touch with each other every day. We have WhatsApp groups. I do some training sessions on Zoom.
We have been playing simple, fun quarantine games. I am sending video messages to my tailors and asking them to send messages back.
It has not been easy and we have been pushing online sales to be able to collect funds to pay our workers.
But as an individual and as a company, I stress on TEAM WORK a lot so I have been in touch with everyone to keep their morale, spirits and dedication high.
Did you have to lay off any staff?
No. We are not laying any of our team off. We cannot do that especially in this time.
It will be hard for them to find other jobs now and we will not let our team down now.
We are in touch with weavers and karigars. We are working on new developments besides helping them now and will continue to support them in the future.
What are your plans post lockdown?
Focus on online sales.
Tweak our new collections taking into consideration the situation and the sentiments of our clients (and our sentiments too).
Maybe introduce a new line of products as well -- we will have to see.
This is all new and unchartered territory.
We have tried to project how things will turn out and we have planned for the next 3 months, but really we do not know how things will turn out, so we will just have to wait and watch.
We are brushing up on old skills, learning new ones so that we can be prepared for anything.
One thing I know for sure is that we all need to look out for each other and help each other out of this.
Landlords, tenants, employers, employees, sellers, buyers.
This is not the time for ME, but for WE.
In your opinion, how can the government help?
The fashion industry has to find a way to sustain itself for the next 6 months and then we are home free.
This can be done by advances to artisans, low interest loans, deferred payments, policies for rent waivers etc.
According to you, what are some of the mistakes or decisions entrepreneurs should avoid making during this time?
The only mistake you can make is if you have not used this time effectively to brush up on old skills, learn new skills, plan, spring cleaning and connect with customers.
What are some of the skills and sectors or job roles that may hire talent in the next few years?
- Digital marketing
- Lot of commercial transactions will move online – so anything that will help in that field.
Career tips that have worked for you.
- Understand your customer
- Reach out to them and go to them instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Your message to aspiring designers and entrepreneurs.
Distill to the beautiful core of what you as a designer have to offer and then go out and present it to the world!
Your message to the class of 2020.
Initially, grab every opportunity.
Try and test different things out -- new markets, new products, just keep trying out things till you hit on a formula that works for you!