A Labour of Love in a Global Crisis
UPDATE: 14th July 2020
We’re still chugging along! Albeit rather more slowly than we’re used to.
Our Covent Garden shops have finally reopened as of Monday and we, as staff members, have never been so grateful to be allowed to return to work. But just like everyone else, we aren’t out of the woods yet. We’re immensely proud of ourselves, and of our fantastic customers, for keeping us afloat so far but there’s a huge uphill climb still to go.
So we’re here in the workshop - ready for your order! We’ve re-jigged our workspace to allow for a safe working environment, and we’re getting great allowing each other enough space whilst maintaining the workflow. And it is a struggle as we all know, to remain positive. We can’t make up too much stock as we have no idea whether we anyone will buy it, but we still have to work more efficiently than ever to make every penny count - so it’s a rather stressful affair right now.
Our little ship will keep paddling for now! We are now shipping orders as normal, with Royal Mail seemingly keeping up with the overwhelming amount of work they are doing right now; we aren’t experiencing delays currently. Our stores are obviously experiencing hugely reduced footfall, so if you feel you can safely venture out to Covent Garden, you can probably do so without worrying about crowds of people around you. Our amazing shop staff are fully prepped with PPE and will be very glad to take care of your needs, from a safe distance of course.
So thank you all, once again. We simply couldn’t do it without the continued support and loyalty of our incredible customers. A huge virtual elbow bump to you all.
Much love xx
Our COVID-19 Update: 20th March 2020
More than ever, we sincerely hope you are keeping well and positive.
As we are all acutely aware, as COVID-19 continues to take hold of the UK, the rapidly evolving situation means continued uncertainty surrounding day to day life and unanticipated ramifications for all of us. At Village Leathers, it is of course our ultimate priority to maintain the health and safety of all our colleagues, and at this point we have to consider both short and long term. We’re now uncertain if our little piece of the industry will make it through this crisis.
Our shops in Covent Garden have now been closed and therefore we aren’t taking any money. Our shops account for around 85% of our income, so you can understand how this is having a huge impact on our business. As you know we do occasionally work on theatre shows and films; theatre jobs have been postponed for the foreseeable future. Whilst Royal Mail are still standing strong we can still sell online, but right now a huge percentage of our income has just vanished- and understandably so - with such grave uncertainty regarding job security and health, we can absolutely understand why people are not desperate to buy a new belt right now.
We love our work, we love our products, we love our customers and we want to keep going, but it’s proving very hard to make the numbers add up without feet coming to the market and with theatre productions on hold. We know that we’re not an essential item but we believe in craft, in handmade, in small batches, in locals, in one-offs and quirks and thought and individuality, and we believe that there is a space for us types and will continue to be in the economy.
With no indication of when/if our income might return, our dedicated team of six have already agreed to take reduced pay going forward. Even with Chancellor's recent funding announcement, Village Leathers can only survive for a few months before we may have to close our doors forever.
So what do we do? People aren’t coming outside, that’s fair, we understand, we’re being careful too. Nor would anyone who works in a bar or cafe expect people to come out and risk either infection or passing it on to someone more vulnerable than them solely in order to keep small, local businesses going. It’s a big ask and it’s an incredibly unfortunate and unforeseen after effect, but, wherever you can, please try. Please try to offer your support to small local businesses; be it, a take away coffee, or the next box of tissues from the shop on the corner (chances are they’re better stocked than the supermarkets anyway), to - you guessed it - buying from your small friendly independents online.
If you’d like to help us keep our heads above water, we’ve come up with a few ideas.
- First and foremost, ‘proceed to checkout’! If you’ve been lusting after leather, now would be an awesome time for you to make a purchase. We can still fulfil all our online orders and it would help us tenfold.
- If you prefer to shop in store and see things live, we’re now offering gift cards on our online store which can be redeemed in Covent Garden once we’ve weathered the storm. Plus, you’ll get to see our swanky new refurbishment.
- Donate to our crowdfunder if you can! Even the smallest donations will make a big difference in these try times, and we are rewarding patrons with various prizes and perks.
- Review us on Google. If you’d like to spread the VL love, but in economically tricky times just like us, a quick recommendation on Google would go a long way to help us out.
- Share our social profile on yours. Tag us on Facebook or Instagram in a snap of your favourite piece from your VL Collection and show your pals how awesome we are, and maybe they’ll love us too.
- Finally, simply forward this blog to someone else who you feel might be interested in our plight.
We’re doing our very best to navigate these uncharted waters, and we’d like to take a moment to thank you all for your continued support - for us and for our fellow small businesses - we are eternally grateful.
Stay strong, stay kind, stay sexy.
Mark, Candy, Kay Tim, Bridget and Jurgita.