Fashion players anticipate summer business boom
Business operators in the fashion industry are eagerly shopping for an expected boom in sales this summer as the Government announced a reopening of the Orange Economy after being in hibernation for more than a year as a result of COVID-19. Some had even begun procuring stock in anticipation of the announcement for the July 1 lifting of some restrictions earlier this week.
“We just got stock. That was my contingency plan because we know that the economy had to open up back,” said Erica Campbell, owner of Style Savvy Boutique in 7th Avenue Plaza in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew.
Though the shipping was a tad more expensive, it was definitely lower than she anticipated, she told The Gleaner.
Currently, the majority of her customers are seeking all-white and brunch outfits.
“It (lockdown period) was very difficult. Business is very stressful overall, so you can imagine COVID adding to that stress,” she said in excitement over the potential sales she will get now with party promoters circulating flyers.
One of the sales representatives at Loud Fashion in Clock Tower Plaza, also in Half-Way Tree, Kiara Henny, explained that they had turned their focus to lingerie and basic collections to pivot when sales plummeted.
“Normally, we expected 40 per cent more sales around Christmas time, but it went down to 20 per cent because of the closure of the entertainment sector,” said Henny.
Throughout the pandemic, the store fitted patrons mostly for baby showers and loungewear for weekend resort trips.
“We are pretty much waiting for the crowd to come in. Even yesterday, we got a little bit busy,” she said.
As store operators have been preparing to ride the waves, the owner of Rose’s Couture in Cross Roads, St Andrew, is looking to give back out of appreciation to her customers who helped her keep things afloat.
“We a bounce back likkle by likkle. What really save me is my customer dem over the years,” said Rose Plummer.
Despite the major personal sacrifices that she has had to make, along with cutting the amount of money spent on stock to be able to pay the staff and utility bills, she has decided to host a 10th-anniversary sale for the first three days in July in honour of her faithful customers.
On the other hand, Michelle Yearde, owner of Brit Bran Fashion, took advantage of a business opportunity that presented itself in the pandemic. In addition to opening a new location in May Pen, Clarendon, she also monetised pandemic pregnancies and started providing baby items across all six locations.
“The pandemic not going to last forever, and sometimes opportunity comes now and you just have to work with it even if you’re losing a little now for the long term,” she explained.
But Yearde stressed that she was fearful of possible closure again, considering that enforcement at parties may be difficult, with patrons gyrating and drinking.
In the same breath, Dexter Huxtable of Spokes Apparel has been dealing with lingering anxiety since the onset of the pandemic. With sadness, he mentioned that his business took a hit while he watched his clients say goodbye to family members because of COVID, and he, too, has had to say goodbye to clients who had become friends, one of them being the late reggae icon Toots Hibbert.
If Jamaica experiences a third wave of the virus, his family may have to say goodbye to their business of 15 years as well.
“Right now, I’m hanging on. I am still trying to keep up with the bills because the past year, I have been paying my workers and doing my utilities – not from clients; it’s from my personal savings,” said the second-generation tailor, who lamented that his personal savings are totally wiped out.
From March 2020, Huxtable has been unable to receive fabric he ordered from overseas suppliers after making a deposit of $US2,000.
“They are telling me that they are having their situation, but as soon as they are able to, they will send me my stuff. So hopefully, as soon as things pop back up, they will free me up,” he shared.
He added that throughout all of this, he has had to be dealing with pressuring phone calls for outstanding taxes.
Huxtable said he would be grateful for some assistance to small businesses like his. Saying that he is not asking for free incentives or subsidies, he would be grateful for a low-interest small-business loan.
Though he does not do tuxedos for many entertainers, he explained that a lot of businesses and his clientele fall within the realm of entertainment nonetheless.
“I do a lot of corporate folks, politicians, and so forth – CEOs and stuff – and they keep me busy,” he said.
He added that his business has also provided casual clothes and fits for different types of parties.