As we approach the final days of 2020, the opportunity to reflect on the events of this whirlwind of a year naturally presents itself. As a small female-led business with less than 5 full time employees, we were faced with immense challenges and unexpected twists which led us to pivot and dodge accordingly. Our founder, Natalie Marshall shares her reflections on this year, highlighting how KIP. navigated uncertain territories and overcame our challenges.
Reflecting on 2020
How we anticipated 2020:
NM: Coming off the success of our biggest collaborations to date (Holt Renfrew & Shangri-La Hotel Group), we were excited to cement more projects within the Retail & Hospitality industries. We were also planning to capitalize on the momentum of Holiday 2019, scaling production and improving assortment planning to guarantee we were always in stock of our best selling items.
How 2020 really looked:
NM: Given that bricks & mortar and retail/hospitality were two of the hardest hit industries, many of the projects and deals we were working on, were immediately cancelled or put on hold for the foreseeable future. Our core business thankfully benefitted from quarantine measures, with more and more customers investing in quality loungewear. The increased demand presented more challenges in trying to source more inventory during the height of lockdown. We also had to learn to work together remotely – which was a challenge!
What we did to pivot:
NM: First, we wanted to be genuine in our messaging. We knew right away, we couldn’t speak to our audience in the same way while there was so much going on in the world. We saw the opportunity to use our platform to provide supportive content about mental health management and self-care during this time. We also recognized how lucky we were to be able to continue to conduct business and saw a need to give back. This prompted us to launch our #KIPCARES initiative, gifting pajamas to front line workers and those who deserved a pick me up.
We realized we would also need to quickly diversify our products in order to stay afloat while we were out of stock of our core collection (due to factory closures). We took time to carefully source sleep accessories and curate themed gift boxes. We also tested the lounge category with the introduction of our Calm Club sweaters.
Our greatest challenges
NM: Product development was definitely the most challenging during this time. As a team, we had to mail fabric swatches, prototypes and more to each other in order to finalize plans for the year. This slowed our progress and made it hard to consolidate feedback as a team.
As an eCommerce business, we also struggled with the unreliability of shipping companies. We take our integrity very seriously, and it was tough not being able to offer our customers firm answers on shipment timelines and delivery dates.
What we learned:
NM: Most importantly, we learned how small businesses can band together to support one another. We were blown away by the sense of community we felt from other companies in the same space.
We also learned how important it is to be transparent, genuine and humanistic in our messaging. We gained so much by sharing our story, our struggles and connecting with our audience personally.
What we would have done differently:
We could have definitely improved our frustrations around the production/shipment implications of COVID-19. In hindsight, there is nothing we could have done to change the factors that were imposed on us. Instead of wasting energy trying to fight it, we should have put more energy on factors we could control.
What you can expect from us in 2021:
In 2021, we’re committed to building out the KIP. brand. Whether it be growing our blog platform, featuring experts in the wellness space or constantly improving our product assortment we’re excited by what’s to come. Stay tuned for some exciting developments!