How one Jamaican retailer pivots through the COVID-19 pandemic
Kerrymanwomanhome principal Kerry-Ann Clarke. (Photos: Contributed)
For near 16 years, KERRYmanwomanhome (KMWH) principal Kerry-Ann Clarke has developed a fashion retail brand, that today runs parallel to many e-commerce websites globally.
Clarke closed the doors of the KMWH brick and mortar in Jamaica that many have grown to love on Sunday, May 10.
This is synonymous to the recent closure of popular luxury retailers Barneys New York in the US, in February.
Unlike Barney’s, however, Clarke is simply taking a break, with plans to re-open with a bang by celebrating 16 years of KMWH.
KERRYmanwomanhome principal Kerry-Ann Clarke enjoys a picnic with her beloved Sake.
Clarke is a creative, ‘always keen on evolving and tend to welcome change’, so deciding to pivot post-COVID-19 is her creative mind at work.
She shared updates and more in a recent interview with Loop Lifestyle below.
Kadeem Rodgers (KR): How long has KMWH been in operation?
Kerry-Ann Clarke (KC): We will be re-opening to celebrate our Sweet16 in November! Whoo-hoo!
KR: What led to the closure of KMWH? How did you know it was time?
KC: It was completely serendipitous. In January, I notified my landlord of my expansion plans, to move to a new location.
That new location was tenanted until the end of April and the plan was to transition into that new space.
Then, COVID happened. So I decided to take a couple of months for myself before re-opening.
KR: What has KMWH taught you 16 years ago that is still applicable today?
KC: There are always new opportunities to discover. My team and I have taken the time to improve and develop our e-commerce platform, and the response has been really good.
We have been adding new brands to our website weekly.
Globally, there has been a great deal of innovation in online projects. In May, views of live videos on IGTV increased by over 70% in the US.
I also have an insatiable appetite to learn, and from my early days in business, I [remember] a quote from Warren Buffet, 'If you don't find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die'.
That was my inspiration to diversify KERRYmanwomanhome to include a better e-commerce experience.
It also gave me the nudge that I needed to explore, learn, and navigate the world of investments and the stock market.
I think what this pressure from the pandemic is also teaching us, is that it has driven most of us to make some long-overdue changes that could ultimately make us stronger.
KR: What are your thoughts on pivoting, hiatuses, and your plans to re-open?
KC: I would like to emphasize the importance of planning for a rainy day so that when we get thrown curve balls like this our stress levels won’t take over our existence.
I also think a positive mindset is important in these times as we can always find opportunities in any situation no matter how impossible it appears.
Embrace change; be grateful for being on this island during lockdowns as it really could be MUCH worse.
Learn from the lessons that Mother Earth is teaching us in this time so that we can come out of this with renewed energy and ideas to move forward.
The new location will speak to the changes in the retail environment. We will be creating a more unique experiential destination space which will go beyond mere transactions.
KR: Any current obsessions?
KC: Nature, scuba diving, and staycations.
Clarke before she takes one of her weekend dives — a newfound hobby of hers.
The average market capitalisation of apparel, fashion, and luxury players dropped by almost 40% between the start of January and March 24 – a much steeper decline than that of the stock market, according to a McKinsey analysis, based on data from S&P Capital IQ – the essential platform for financial professionals.
So KR asked…
What are your thoughts on the current state of fashion? In particular, the stalls in production and the new ways fashion shows are presented?
KC: Now is the time to reset and reshape the industry's value chain.
With regards to stalls in production, luckily for us (in Jamaica), we do not need to worry about multiple collections for different seasons and as such are ahead of the game where that is concerned.
I also think that the live shows will eventually continue (Paris Fashion Week just wrapped Haute Couture presentations, Men’s Fashion Week to follow, July 9-13).
I do believe that nothing can replace or create the same excitement as live shows, nor compete with the adrenaline and momentum of the fashion shows and presentations.
COVID-19 has reminded consumers that human connection and community matter most.
I don’t believe that there is a future where it’s a one size fits all fashion week experience anymore.