Well, here we are, mid-May and things look...different.
The last few months have been a bit of a blur. I've spent a lot of time sewing masks
and not much else and I'm endlessly grateful for all of your support and purchases but now I find myself stuck with a bit of a dilemma.
This past week, the provincial government announced that Ontario will start the slow, careful process of re-opening some facilities and businesses. For me, the key words here are 'slow' and 'careful'. There is so much that we don't know about the Corona virus. There is so much uncertainty surrounding what comes next and I’m not quite ready to re-open the doors of Mandala Design just yet.
I had a wonderful online meeting with my fab Mandala co-workers on Friday and our thoughts and feelings about re-opening right away were unanimous. Slow and steady wins the race. There are so many things that we need to consider. Practical things like, how do we stagger or schedule customers? Change-room remodels (we’ve got curtains and now that’s a no-no!), stock levels (I’ve been sewing masks for the past months and Spring production has been on hold) and new cleaning and disinfecting protocols (full disclosure – I’ve been neglecting the storefront for the past while as I’ve been mostly working in the back….and it shows!). Then there are the intangibles like, will customers want to shop in-store? Will you feel safe and comfortable? Will we feel safe and comfortable? So many questions, so many unknowns. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I’d love more than to throw our door open wide and welcome you all back in, but for now we’ll be adjusting the way we operate and working on how we can create a new, sustainable, happy place to shop!
Here are a few of the ideas we’re working on to get the ball rolling!
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be revamping our online shop to include some of the accessories that you normally only find in-store. That means that you’ll be able to peruse some of our cute purses, jewellery, scarves, socks etc. and purchase online!
I’m also considering a way to improve the images that are available on the site for each clothing style. At the moment we strive to include a model shot, product shots (on the mannequin) and fabric close-ups for each listing. I’ve always wanted to add a “real-life” model shot along with the others and this might be the perfect time to get that going! I’m thinking that it would be amazing to enlist you, our lovely customers, to take some pics of yourselves in new styles so that we can share those images on our website. This would make it easier for everyone to see how a garment looks on different people and body types. This is a bit of a huge undertaking for everyone involved but it’s proven to be pretty effective for other online retailers, and especially helpful when it’s not possible to get in to the shop to try things on. I’ll be reaching out soon for volunteers!
In addition to bulking up our online offerings, we’ll be adding a “local pick-up” delivery option for those customers who are close by. If you live in Toronto and can make it in to the shop, we’re also devising a “home-try-on” procedure so that you can pick-up some style options from the shop to try on at home and then return / exchange those that don’t work. Essentially, your home would become the change-room! Still working out the deets on this one, so stay tuned!
On top of that, we’ll be extending our “free shipping” on regular priced items promotion indefinitely.
SPRING COLLECTION PRODUCTION
For the past few months, I’ve been focusing solely on making masks for donation and for sale and have abandoned our Spring collection entirely☹. Now that the demand for masks is starting to decrease and the availability of commercial PPE is increasing, I will be reducing the number of masks I make each week so that I can turn some of my attention back to what I really love, making pretty, comfortable clothing! I will be able to produce a few more of our Spring styles and I’ll need your help to decide what to make! Watch our social media and your inboxes for a survey coming in the next while, where you can tell me what you’re waiting for from our Spring Collection. What are you looking for to compliment your “work-from-home-wardrobe”? Your “physical-distance-finery”?
VIRTUAL SHOPPING TRIPS
This is something that came up in our ‘shop-girl’ meeting on Friday and I think it’s such a cool idea! I’ll be looking to figure out how we can offer virtual in-store shopping trips. Not sure how exactly we can pull this off just yet, but I love the idea that you could ZOOM or Facetime or Skype in and we can show you around the store. We could show you some of the pieces you’re interested in, show you some of the new things just in and give you a better understanding of how they move, wear and fit. This will be a longer-term project but something that could be pretty exciting!
These are some of the ideas we’ve got percolating as we move through this bizarre new way of living. Not exactly what I envisioned when I opened Mandala, but I think with the help of my uber-creative employees and your continued love and support of our little biz, we can get through this together!