Coronavirus: A Letter from Lorena
I hope this message finds you and yours safe and healthy. I understand that this situation has completely side swept a lot of you. We certainly have felt and continue to feel the brunt of it, especially as a small business.
Those of you who follow our Instagram and Facebook pages know that I was recently in Ecuador, Paris, and Ghana visiting our artisans and meeting with prospective buyers. I chronicled all the travels on both our @sonderandholliday Instagram as well as my personal business account, @lorenamirandbendeck.
I left on February 27th, back when COVID19 was a mere thought, never imagining that it was going to explode globally taking the lives of thousands of people along with entire industries and economies. 3 weeks later, on March 15th, I faced the serious reality of not seeing my home for an indefinite period of time since all of my flights home were canceled and I could not find anything back via Europe. Fortunately, I found a flight via Turkey. So I flew 8 hours east from Accra, Ghana, then 15 hours west to Miami. After 3 days of bouncing from airports, I finally made it home. I almost kissed the ground when I stepped off the plane. It is true, there is no place like home.
I isolated myself for 2 weeks given my whereabouts, the lack of testing, and the fact that my plane from Istanbul was at capacity with passengers who had redirected their flights from Europe to Istanbul given it was the only way back to the US. But the entire time, my mind was with the weavers in Bolgatanga. Between lack of soap and limited medical care, if this virus finds its way there, it would be catastrophic. I pray that they are shielded.
In the last 2 weeks I have done a lot of thinking. As I write this, I think about a lot of you, our buyers within the hotel, retail, and cruise line industries, suppliers, and re-sellers, who are copied in this email. I know that overnight, your life changed and my heart breaks for all of you.
Overnight, our life changed too. I spent so much time, energy, and worked so hard to build momentum and prepare our artisans for the growth we expected in 2020, only to return and hit a wall. Which of course, directly impacts their livelihood as well as the livelihood of all the people Sonder and Holliday and her sister company, Lemloreli, employ.
Considering that this is an evolving situation and we still don't know which will be the last domino to fall, we have taken a few proactive steps to help protect our artisans in Ghana and Ecuador and ensure that when this passes, we will be ready to meet the demand.
Briefly put, we have purchased several boxes of soap for our artisans in Ghana to ensure they can properly wash their hands and selves and help reduce the spread of this virus. In Ecuador, the majority of our weavers are older and at-risk people, so we, along with the government, have encouraged them to stay home and resume when it is safe again. Locally, in Miami, we donated a few rolls of the fabric to World Red Eye we use for our Valencia Bows to make masks for first responders and essential employees. Every single person we work with has been asked to work form home till further notice. As of today, we are on a strict Stay-at-Home order by the governor of Florida for the next 30 days.
These are weird times. I know all of you have heard many times that we are in this together. We are. Not a single one of us has been unscathed by this invisible threat. But I believe that this Corona-cation is a reset that so many of us, including me, never realized we so urgently needed.
As we move forward, we will be working to protect ourselves and our business from this virus. I hope you all do the same and stay safe by staying home.
Founder and CEO