Labelhood founder Tasha LiuPhoto: Courtesy of Tasha Liu

Tasha Liu is the founder of Labelhood, the leading platform for emerging designers in China. Labelhood has a boutique in Shanghai’s popular French Concession neighborhood and produces runway shows for young designers at Shanghai Fashion Week. Following the coronavirus outbreak, Liu and her team were quarantined for the entire month of February; they closed the doors to their shop, and Shanghai Fashion Week—set to take place from March 24-30—was canceled. Here, she explains how her team adapted to the crisis and used new technology to keep their customers feeling hopeful.

We got the news of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan just before the Chinese New Year, in mid-January. We were going to close Labelhood’s shop for the holiday anyways, but then everything changed. On the news, we heard the virus couldn’t be controlled in Wuhan, so everyone was feeling really uncertain. We didn’t know what was going to happen, because at this time, it was only in Wuhan—it wasn’t in any other cities or countries yet. We thought the shop would be closed for a week, and then we’d be back to work—everything would be resolved. But that of course wasn’t the case. Every day, the number of deaths was increasing—it reached the thousands quickly, and sad stories were all over the internet. Everyone was living in fear. All over China, we were thinking, “One day, this could be me or my family.” My parents live very close to Shanghai, but I couldn’t go to see them, and my husband’s parents are in southwest China. We do a call with them every day, but probably won’t visit them in person for another two months.

We were officially quarantined for an entire month, and we stayed inside the entire time. The only time I went outside was to fetch deliveries or food we had ordered. My husband is Labelhood’s CEO, so even during the quarantine, we talked about work every day. As founders of a start-up, we can’t afford to stop even for one day. We reviewed what we’ve done over the past year, and how we can prepare better for next year; it was a good time for us to do a lot of thinking.

In every profession, from fashion to IT, we’re all human beings. We’re all suffering [the effects] of the coronavirus. But as a start-up, Labelhood had to work out a solution—we needed ideas. Everyone was stuck at home, but our internet [communication] is very good. We have a lot of apps, like WeChat, so we started discussing how we could keep doing business. We had to redo our sales forecast, but most of our team is very young, so our shop manager suggested we connect with customers in WeChat groups and online in our Tmall e-commerce store. Our WeChat store opened on February 3rd, just after the Chinese New Year, so people could shop through the app.

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