In the second instalment of our Ragtrader Asks series, Elk founder and creative director Marnie Goding reveals how the business is navigating lockdown.
What are the challenges you are facing now and how are you getting through these?
The challenges are diverse and whilst we have overcome most of our internal battles we are still not the old Elk we were.
We are working hard to strengthen our management structure and position for financial recovery and future growth.
The other challenges are in our supply chain.
The backlog and continued disruption right throughout our network is significant and is playing out mostly in blown out schedules.
Everything from raw material procurement to freight is taking so much longer than it used to so we have had to really overhaul our timings.
We are having to continually shift our expectations and when freight is late even though its not ideal our customers understand - most companies are experiencing the same issues.
How do you keep yourself and your team motivated?
Our entire team have worked hard to keep the wheels turning which was essential for the survival of the business.
On the side we also had numerous projects that we kept going which we felt was essential for the team to feel that we were moving along in a positive direction, to keep up momentum and everyone motivated.
These projects include a major renovation for a new office space, we have just joined as members of 1% for the planet, continued to publish our transparency reports and are working hard on our B Corp applications.
It's great for the team to see us moving along at a great pace still, they need to feel swept up.
Have you noticed any changes in customer behaviour?
This pandemic has really affected consumer behaviour and we are seeing a more conservative sentiment.
There is definitely a shift towards more practical, comfort dressing and considered purchasing.
From Sydney no change as yet - I think that will entirely depend on how long their current situation lasts.
What are your top tips for WFH?
Finding a space that limits distractions is essential.
The benefits of working from home (like getting the washing done) can also easily lead to procrastination.
We re-configured a part of our house which was a saviour for productivity and given we were home schooling for such a long time it also gave us separation from the kids.
If you don't have that space then noise cancelling head phones and facing away from distraction is a good idea.
Do you have any advice on how to stay focused and to keep a balance?
Finding balance is hard in a situation that is ever changing but there are some ways that your working day from home can be more successful and routine is a big part of this.
Have a daily structure that includes time away from screens and some exercise can be achieved by blocking out a time in your diary.
Also - get dressed!
If you get up and get out of your Ugg boots it switches you into work mode and out of house sloth mode!
What have been the main challenges for your business that you have overcome?
Elk is a business built on a strong culture through connectivity and community so being separated as a team for such a long time has been a huge challenge.
We have found ways to keep talking to everyone through online tools and consistent and structured meeting times however each lockdown has been different, and we found at the toughest times we needed to ramp up the frequency and style of 'check in'.
When you are away from your colleagues you miss the ability to gauge sentiment and pick up on ad hoc conversation so sometimes fell like you are missing the beat of the business.
We are still all quite fragmented, and we are 18 months in now - we are all very excited to being able to all be together again one day soon.