Covid-19 has had a disruptive impact on many industries and sectors. In this series we are showcasing a number of our clients and partners, highlighting the steps they have taken, their current activity and what their plans are for the future. We hope that by sharing this we can help organizations and brands going through similar journeys.
If you would like to feature in our next article get in touch.
In this instalment we are delving into the fashion and apparel industry by talking to Justyna Przygonska from The Odder Side. Founded in 2014, by best friends Justine and Brigitte Handzelewicz Waclawek, The Odder Side is an international fashion brand with stores in Paris and Poland and a thriving online presence.
They started after a very casual conversation on Facebook and within a month the two friends were selling their first pieces. In 2015 the brand created its first capsule collection of styles featuring simple backless T-Shirts, tops and two dresses. The brand has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Q How was your business split between digital and physical retail before Covid-19?
Justyna: The ratio between the digital and the physical channels stores was pretty equal, I’d say about 50/50.
Q Can you explain why you decided to open a pop-up store in Paris?
Justyna: There are actually a few reasons. France, in particular Paris, has always been close to our hearts and we are glad to know that after Poland it is our biggest market. Therefore, it made sense to us to open our first boutique there. Paris is also the home of fashion, and nothing really compares to shopping there, especially during peak season. Having our store in Paris gives us the opportunity to connect with our clients from all over the world. We know that they visit our address to experience our products and get the feel of their quality. We are planning to open more stores in cities that we love and would like to visit regularly.
Q Your pop-up is in Le Marais, why did you choose this area?
Justyna: Marais has always been our favourite quarter. When we visit Paris we basically do not leave Le Marais. We know it so well! It is great for shopping and you can find anything from high-quality chains to vintage jewellery, perfumeries, cosmetics, art galleries and good food etc. Le Marais has a lot to offer and we cannot wait to visit again.
Q Overall, how is the Covid-19 situation impacting your business?
Justyna: Retail is not an easy sector to operate in at the moment and launching our SS20 collection during the Covid-19 outbreak was pretty challenging. Thankfully, the relationships we’ve built with our clients and our community are helping us survive. The collection was received amazingly well with e-commerce sales being in line with our expectations. We’re so thankful for each and every person continuing to shop with us during this strange time.
Q What are the main changes you’ve made to adapt to the situation?
Justyna: Managing online sales growth has required strategic shifts in our business. We’ve doubled our staff for online orders and we’ve added more shipping options. We put extra safety measures in place to ensure our colleagues in the warehouse can work safely during the pandemic.
This is also the time where we want to get closer than ever to our customers. We are staying connected! Our customer services team deserves a medal.
Q In particular, how are you dealing with the shop closures?
Justyna: Seeing all of our shops closed is heartbreaking but fortunately we continue selling clothes through our website. Having additional platforms where we can communicate with our audience is really helpful, especially now.
Q Did you face supply chain issues?
Justyna: We are proud that our production is based in Poland hence our supply chain was not massively impacted. We work remotely and of course some tasks are now taking up more time than usual. Getting fabrics and materials can be challenging. Our great team of experts, however, is working hard to meet our clients’ expectations and to make sure we have new items dropping according to our plan.
Q How are you communicating with your clients during the crisis?
Justyna: Social media proves to be helpful on all levels. We shifted to digital interactions and we use channels like Instagram and Facebook to communicate with our clients. Customer service has always been our number one priority and that remains the case. We are doing our best to answer all emails and questions as fast as we can. Like I said before, our customer service team have been real heroes for us.
Q Are you planning to organize events or sales on social media?
Justyna: Yes! We want to give to our audience a sense of belonging, community and solidarity. We recently launched a fundraising sale to raise money to support the fight against COVID-19. 50 percent of our profits were donated to Polish charity Wielka Orkiestra Swiatecznej Pomocy.
Q How is the Covid-19 situation impacting your long-term strategy?
Justyna: Our long-term strategy is changing, and we often discuss the industry and new challenges. We definitely need to switch things up to create a new normal. The plan is to make our business stronger, whatever that entails. When this situation starts to normalize, I can’t wait to unveil our new adventure.
Q What projects do you have planned for after Covid-19?
Justyna: The future is uncertain, but we have a few exciting plans on our table. Stay tuned and follow us on Instagram @the_odderside.
Q Do you have any plans to open other Pop-Up stores? If yes, in which city?
Justyna: We constantly talk about improvements and new pop-up stores. I cannot reveal much yet but we have our sight set on expansion across the Atlantic.
Thank you to The Odder Side for taking part in this initiative. We’ll be back soon with more insights from different industries and clients as they deal with the impact of Covid-19.
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