My name is Ezinne Chinkata and I am the founder of Zinkata, a fashion retail store located in Lagos, Nigeria. On the 25th of March 2020, as a result of the Corona Virus epidemic, I shut the doors of Zinkata closed until further notice.It felt like the very right thing to do. I had to protect the staff and our customers. For the first two days at home, I felt listless and a little shell-shocked. The news on the pandemic and the rising figures was disheartening.
Suddenly, I found myself smack in the middle of a massive self-blame exercise. For the past 3 to 4years, I have been working on our e-retail website and still hadn’t gotten it up and running. It didn’t matter whose fault or why. The Reality was this, the physical store was closed, we had no e-retail store to fall back on. In my head, I had failed the business, the staff, our brilliant designers and most importantly, our customers. I was in a dark place. Thankfully, only for a little while.
Concurrently, the news and figures of the Corona Virus were at a fever pitch. Numbers were rising, the global economy had taken a nosedive. In my home country Nigeria, the conditions and resultant repercussions of the shutdown and lull in economic activity were quite severe for the severely disadvantaged communities. It was a call for action.
Designers in the store and Zinkata collaborated to give out 5-7.5% of our sales as a contribution to the Covid-19 relief fund. I believe that all our collective efforts will make a difference. This put me in a positive space. I knew we had done our bit as a business to help fight this global pandemic.
It is a time to be kind (to others as well as to ourselves), supportive, loving and just generally being as much as we can to someone else in these unusual times. While also remembering to say a prayer of thanks on the daily for the health-care workers and all those on the frontlines, as well as to those affected in different ways.?
Back to the fate of Zinkata. Even though we don’t have an e-retail store, we have managed to keep the business running via our loyal customers, social media channels and the office phone lines. This is by no means anywhere near what it usually is if the stores were open and if there was no global epidemic. Yet, I have learnt to be truly grateful for where I am now. The stay-at-home directive which at first seemed like the most significant blow to our business seems to come with remarkable positives and I am so grateful.
For the first time since the inception of Zinkata, I have unlimited time to stay still, analyse the business, understand our brand`s soul essence, note where exactly we are now and generally be much clearer on our goals. It has been such a blessed experience.
On a personal level, I feel much more equipped to move boldly forward and be the best we can for our customers. Sadly, sometimes, it takes a negative situation to bring out the best in us.
Recently, a friend asked, “how is your business doing in these times”, my reply: “it’s doing remarkably well”, and it truly is!