Today is July 3rd, 2020, and in America, we are celebrating Independence day tomorrow. There is so much division in our country right now, including wearing masks and Black Lives Matter. I know what our country has looked like to those on the other side of the pond or world, and sometimes I just lowered my head in conversation with you. Today I feel like although we look like fools to you, our freedom of speech and action is playing out like it was written a few hundred years ago. Finally, Texas has conceded that everyone needs to wear a mask, those of you that don’t know about Texas it is mostly Trump and republicans, so this mandate is something that will help others afraid of to do. Yesterday there were over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Texas alone. Our country, states, counties and cities and divided by politics on how we should deal with COVID-19. I feel more fortunate since I am in California than in the south during both our pandemic and BLM. Although my state is spiking high, I feel like our governor is honest and has the people of our state lives and livelihood in his thoughts and actions.
I grew up in an almost all-white over-privileged community, but maybe my saving grace was a black family next door. At six years old, I was invited to the family's church Christmas celebration. I was the only white person or Jewish person in the entire service, and this was a seed planted. I became best friends with the family's grandson and today visit my friend 50 years later on the streets where he remains homeless. I have watched so many Americans become passionate and educated about this pure freedom of a black person not being killed by a cop. I am not sure how our country or anyone in the world can think that this does not happen. I also think about myself and my belief and our industry. I do not see very many black sales reps or brand owners. I see more beginning level jobs and wonder how many young black people in our business did not move up to the next level. Lastly, I look at myself and how I am willing to change and take action to understand others better.
I just got a text from a rep in Chicago, and the small caravan show from last week was excellent. Dallas market two weeks ago was favorable, and Atlanta is moving forward in real-time. Reps in NY and LA are continuing to struggle. The Coterie was called off yesterday, and I would guess Las Vegas will be too. How will the reps survive? Will we be expected to travel to each store and not only risk our lives to sell a dress but spend most of our profits? I know the industry is moving into the virtual showrooms and shows, but I guess that most of this is done without thinking of the sales agents and reps livelihood.
Brands are continuing to move directly to consumers and now direct to the retailer. I have watched and participated in Zoom sales calls and find it very appealing. In our survey, brands do not want to spend money at national trade shows but expect the sales rep to travel and see the retailer at all costs. The retailer would like to touch the product to make their buys, but this can be over. Four months ago, I opened my home showroom and started my quest to show all my stores our winter collections via zoom. I wish I could show you the personal human interaction I had from accounts around the country. I was able to meet these store owners, kids, partners, and dogs. The connections I made were stronger than at a show or my showroom.
I have been spending hours each day with a few of my friends to come up with a solution to help reps, retailers, and brands. I do not care about my anonymity, so I will tease you that we are ALMOST there. Whoever you are and wherever you are, please take a look around you and see how we can help our fellow humans. Our industry will survive. Happy 4th of July to America! May freedom, happiness, and health follow your country and home.
Photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/@karolina-grabowska