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Brands and Retailers Hold On During the Shutdown – Vol. 2

Another week shut down with no end in sight, we continue to visit with the people and business in our industry to see how they’re affected (see last week’s edition here).

This week, we check in with a few SoCal and NYC stalwarts: Aram Vanerian of 2120 Handcrafted, James Guzman of The Bloke, Miranda Malloy of Snake Oil Provisions, Dan Snyder of Corridor, and Andrew Livingston of Knickerbocker.

Miranda Malloy of Snake Oil Provisions


SOP crew. Image via Snake Oil Provisions.

Who are you?

Miranda Malloy: co-owner of Snake Oil Provisions.

Where in the world are you?

Long Beach, California.
What restrictions are currently in place there?

Shelter in Place—all non-essential businesses are closed. We opted to close in-store shopping on March 15th, before the official order, and we are able to operate online only.

How have the last couple weeks affected you

We’ve never, ever worked harder in our lives—and we’re notorious workaholics. Never-ending re-strategizing, think-tanks, and brainstorming sessions. Thankfully, our customers have adapted quickly to moving to online-only shopping and have shown an amazing outpouring of support. We’re able to receive seasonal orders and continue placing restock orders thanks to them, which means we’re able to continue supporting our brand partners, makers, and staff.

Emotionally, it’s trying, but our spirits are up. Ben and I have each other, our pets, and our shop manager, Bob. We’re all healthy and doing whatever it takes to stay that way.

As for business, April will be more telling for us than March, since this is when we’ll all really begin to feel supply chain challenges and factory closures. Getting restocks from warehouses isn’t possible; much SS20 manufacturing is left uncompleted; and those who are working are doing so with skeleton crews, so delays are inevitable.

We’re having the best success with smaller brands/makers who are thinking outside the box and adapting quickly.

What does your business need to weather this crisis?

We were very proactive early on (before the rest of the country was taking the threat seriously) and secured a backup line of credit to ensure cash flow under worst-case scenario conditions. That ended up being one of the smartest things we could’ve done.

We could benefit greatly from being able to negotiate lower-interest rates on business cards/line of credit (which banks are not open to at this time), and securing very low interest lines of credit, continuing to find the strength and creativity to adapt to constantly changing conditions.

Most importantly though, we need customers who are able to continue shopping.

What (if anything) is bringing you peace and calm right now?

Being able to continue working online helps keep us centered. Knowing our families and the SOP team is safe and healthy and having the most incredibly supportive customer-friends on the planet helps me get through each day. And helping where I can.

Every day I try to reach out to several people (friends, colleagues, customers) we know are quarantining alone or having a hard time. Just a check in to say hello, thinking of you, asking how they are (and meaning it). We all need that right now. (Followed closely by Netflix and Chill with the cats).

Anything you want to tell customers or the community?

If you can spend money at your favorite restaurants and retail shops, please do so! The small business communities we know and love will be drastically changed when we all emerge from quarantine. No dollar amount is too small. We know many folks out there are also impacted by reduced salaries and layoffs.

If you’re unable to support financially, just spreading the word on social media encouraging friends and family members to support businesses helps. Or reaching out to your favorite small businesses to let them know you care and will support when you can. It all matters.

And to all the folks who have supported us and continue to do so, THANK YOU from all our hearts. Our customers are our lifeline. There is no SOP without them.

If you have some extra cash, you can spend it with Snake Oil Provisions here.

Aram Vanerian of 2120 Handcrafted

Brands-and-Retailers-Hold-On-During-the-Shutdown---Vol.-2 Aram Vanerian. Image by Ethan Wong.

Aram Vanerian. Image by Ethan Wong.

Who are you?

Aram Vanerian, founder and creative director of 2120 Handcrafted.

Where in the world are you?

Northeast Los Angeles.

What are the restrictions currently in place there?

Shelter in place. Essential businesses only.

How have the last couple weeks affected you?

A good portion of our business relies on private fittings at our studio and pop-ups around town, so we have felt the effects pretty significantly and are preparing for a slow summer. Some pre-orders have canceled also, but fortunately we are still shipping orders online. Our factory remains open in Mexico for now, so our fingers are crossed that it remains safe to keep production going, even at a minimal pace.

What does your business need to weather this crisis?

We are a very small operation and because we source and manufacture with other small companies, our main goal is to make sure that they are paid so they can continue their operations. What we need is support from our local and social communities to stay engaged and shop (if possible) with us or though local retailers.

We would absolutely benefit from an interest-free loan or a small investment to give our digital marketing budget a big boost right now to meet the changing needs and demands of the marketplace. Right now that translates to online visibility more than ever.

What (if anything) is bringing you peace and calm right now?

Having my family safe and healthy, cooking three meals a day, and the sparks of creativity I get to indulge; including new designs and business ideas.

How do you see this crisis changing the fashion/retail landscape?

I think many consumers will reassess their spending and value in what they are purchasing. Retailers and brands will focus on fewer and more niche products. E-commerce will grow as will the direct-to-consumer models. Unfortunately, I think this crisis will widen the gap of successful and failed businesses.

My first thoughts are that brands need to invest more in personalized experiences and find balance with less foot-traffic and more online sales. My hope is that larger companies start to operate more like smaller ones and the smaller ones become focused on long-term growth.

Anything you want to tell customers or the community?

I do recommend that if you can, please support independent design and retailers at this time. Throughout the next two months, we will be clearing out De La Studio which is full of handmade footwear, ceramics, textiles, vintage, and design items.

Please follow us on instagram @de_la_studio @2120handcrafted and stay tuned to stories for more info as we shift gears and prepare for a transition.

You can shop 2120 Handcrafted’s line of stellar footwear here.

James Guzman of The Bloke


The Bloke LA. Image via James Guzman.

Who are you?

My name is James M. Guzman, Senior General Manager for The Bloke.

Where in the world are you?

In Pasadena, CA. Located at 380 S. Lake Ave #101 at The Burlington Arcade.

What restrictions are currently in place there?

The restrictions currently in place for us right now is that we are closed to the general public. The Bloke is a men’s specialty boutique that has a lot of walk-in clients and we are not able to serve their fashion, book, record, ephemera, fragrance, apothecary, footwear, and other accessory needs right now.

How have the last few weeks affected you?

The Bloke thrives on our trunk shows and weekend events. In fact, we had to cancel 3 upcoming events that were going to be hosted by the brands Tellason, which offers great selvedge denim and workwear apparel, Informale, which is a fantastic menswear brand from Australia, that offers beautiful linen bottoms, gurkha shorts and safari/jungle jackets, and Alden footwear, which is one of the best American men’s shoe brands. Offering beautiful handmade loafers, monk straps, wing tips and dress/casual boots.

Not hosting these events is hard on us financially because we invite all of our clients from our email list, Instagram followers and Permanent Style readers. Along with friends, family, and influencers that help us promote our events. A lot of our clients anticipate these events wanting to see what The Bloke is offering that is new for the season. And during those events, we will see up to 250 to 300 people on those weekends. Most of whom participate with a purchase.
Albert, you have been to an event or two, so you know what they look like and how much they can assist a retail shop [Author Note: I have and they’re very fun.]

Jeffery Plansker (the owner of The Bloke) and I went to NYC for our annual buying trip in January, gearing up for Fall/Winter 2020. And we are going to introduce some really great brands, with some really cool menswear to the store. And for now, all of that has to be postponed.

Most factories have closed their doors. They are not producing apparel right now. Factories are not packing or shipping anything. So if the factories are not making anything, we have nothing new to sell. It’s a trickle effect.

What does your business need to weather this crisis?

Currently, Jeffery and I are updating our website to offer our clients new Spring/Summer goods. We need our clients and community to continue to support us by making purchases on our website or through Instagram. But a loan, rent suspension, and government relief would all be very helpful. Those are things that we are currently working on receiving.

Thankfully, the business is run by Jeffery and myself. So we do not have a lot of employees to consider. We are both working hard, but currently on a part-time basis. Or as needed.

What (if anything) is bringing you peace and calm right now?

Right now the things that are bringing me peace and comfort are the people around me. For example, my husband, who works in mental health and is a program director and therapist for a certain facility, is still working full time.

Jeffery, the owner of The Bloke, my business partner and friend, who is inspiring me to be even more creative through this tough time. My family and friends. That call constantly, making sure that we have everything we need while we are in quarantine.

Lastly, my clients, who have become friends, have been reaching out, asking how we are doing. Those are the things/people that are bringing me peace right now.

How do you see this crisis changing the fashion/retail landscape?

I feel that this crisis will change the fashion/retail landscape for a long time to come because I don’t think a lot of retailers will bounce back from this. Some brands might not bounce back either. There is so much money being lost at this time. A lot of people will not have jobs after this. With factories closed, designers and brands do not have new goods to offer.

Anything you want to tell customers or the community?

Right now, Jeffery and I are updating our website, to offer new goods. Some at a lower price point. With this, we are hoping that our clients and community will continue to shop with us. And try to support us through this difficult time. Also check out our Instagram page at @theblokela for any updates and new products.

I would lastly like to say that since most of us are staying home (And we should stay home to stop the spread COVID 19), that we support small businesses. Please support your favorite local restaurants, boutiques, retailers, designers, brands, shops and vendors that are trying to survive during this difficult time.

I would also like to say STAY SAFE!

You can take a gander at The Bloke’s new stuff here.

Dan Snyder of Corridor

Who are you?

Dan Snyder, owner of clothing brand Corridor NYC.

Where in the world are you?

Brooklyn, New York.
What restrictions are currently in place there?

Stay at home—Both of our retail stores and our studio are shut down and everyone is working from home.

How have the last few weeks affected you?

It’s been difficult. Because we’re an independent brand – we rely on our in-store sales, and both stores are closed. Also, our spring deliveries from most of our retailers were cancelled and our summer deliveries are stuck in India. We are currently trying to forecast fall and still design our SS21 collection.

What does your business need to weather this crisis?

It’s a mixture of loans, rents abatement, and help with salaries to float our staff. Rent in New York is expensive and we currently have three locations we’re paying for but unable to pay for. We hope the CARES Act will be able to provide some relief for businesses like ours.

What (if anything) is bringing you peace and calm right now?

I’m jogging and going on walks, quite a few of the streets in the city have been shut down to cars so pedestrians can have more space to distance. Also avoiding the news when I can.

Anything you want to tell customers or the community?

We’re doing our best to stay afloat and giveback during these times. During this month we’re giving back 10% of our New York Collection sales to City Harvest. City Harvest is a charity that focuses on feeding hungry New Yorkers in all capacities: food pantries, food rescue, and directly to struggling New Yorkers.

Our NY Collection consists of NY made headwear that references vintage NY memorabilia and t-shirts with other iconic imagery like a great tourist find from the 70s.

Anyway, this is our little piece to help and hopefully give back. Here is a link to the collection and please let me know if you have any questions.

Stay safe and take care.

Andrew Livingston of Knickerbocker Mfg.

The KMFG covid tee. Proceeds of which go to small businesses in New York. Image via Knickerbocker mfg.

Who are you?

Andrew Livingston, owner and founder of clothing brand Knickerbocker Mfg.

Where are you?

Brooklyn, New York

What restrictions are currently in place there?

Stay at home, all non-essential businesses closed.

How have the last few weeks affected you?

It hasn’t been easy, for brands operating on the seasonal schedule, this came at the worst possible time. We had just received Spring/Summer stock from our production facilities but had not yet sent it out to our retail accounts, many of which are unable to take it now.

What does your business need to weather this crisis?

Help with rent and supporting my employees, although I’m hesitant to take anything until we’re sure how it’s going to affect us in the long term. A lot of these programs can come with strings attached that could be a problem down the line.

What (if anything) is bringing you peace and calm right now?

The industry had been in need of a shakeup for some time now, and not that anybody wanted this, it’s certainly a shakeup. The seasonal tradeshow model was dying a slow death, and with tradeshows looking impossible globally for at least the next season, it could put us on track for a better model a lot faster than what was happening.

That, and knowing the waves will still be there to surf when this is all over.

Anything you want to tell customers or the community?

We launched a fundraising t-shirt when this all started (pictured above) to help out a local business drastically affected by the shutdown. Proceeds from shirt purchases will help out a different business every week—barbershops, diners, etc. that can’t work while this goes on but still have bills to pay.

Has your business been affected by the shutdown? We want to hear from you! Please answer the above questions and include a photo and send to editors at heddels dot com.

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