In California, Governor Gavin Newsom said that the state may need 50,000 additional hospital beds as the COVID-19 situation worsens in the coming weeks. Beaches and their parking lots are closed, as are most of the popular hiking trails in L.A. New York may be the pandemic epicenter in the United States, but California is not too far behind.
As such, there’s been an outpouring of worry and panic amongst small businesses in the state (and of course, elsewhere across the country, which is why the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is stepping in to help. Hundreds of designers and boutique owners are facing an uncertain future, Sherri McMullen included.
McMullen opened her eponymous store in Oakland in 2007 and christened a second location in Palo Alto in September of last year. Brands like Khaite, Rachel Comey, and Ulla Johnson are among her top sellers. A week ago she shuttered her doors “to protect the health and safety of clients and employees.” With both locations closed, it’s been difficult to keep a full staff. “Our employees are feeling the effects,” she says, “but we’re all in this together and we’re utilizing the resources we can to take care of each other.”
McMullen is focused on utilizing technology as much as she can in order to keep things moving forward. “With the designers that we stock and work with, we are discussing ways to create digital experiences for clients. For example, we will be highlighting new styles and products with a few of our designers via Instagram Live.” She’s also been communicating with clients almost daily via FaceTime or the webshop. “We’re offering ‘Goodie Boxes’ for those who would like to receive a box of items they’d like to try at home. We also had two FaceTime styling appointments the other day where we discussed pieces for future events and items that fit the customer’s lifestyle right now.”
The store’s Instagram feed is a mix of current spring 2020 collections ready for purchase and posts about supporting small businesses both in the fashion space and beyond. As hopeful as she is, McMullen acknowledges “it will take time to recover.”