Hello again. Daryl here. I hope you're all safe and well.
Much has changed since I last wrote to all of you on the new year. A new and dangerous virus has swept across much of the planet, and in its passing many of us have found our lives disrupted and uprooted. Some of us will no doubt have loved ones directly affected by the outbreak.
Those of you who know me personally will know that I don't believe in bombast, nor in sugarcoating the situation. From the very beginning we've always focused on the welfare of our people above all else, and a pandemic doesn't change that; rather, it reinforces our desire to be responsible citizens of this planet.
That's why, in this letter, I'm going to lay out the decisions we've taken to keep our people safe, the knock-on effects of those decisions on our timeline, and finally some things we're going to do to make sure that Musubi will still be around when this outbreak is over.
Keeping safe in Singapore
Thankfully, our flagship atelier in Singapore remains operational, and all our artisans are safe. Singapore came down hard on the infection early on in the game, and so we've managed to avoid the kind of large-scale community transmission that would put many lives at risk.
While I did seriously consider pausing our Singapore operations, our artisans have expressed a desire to keep working on journals, because they value the positive effect the work has on their mental health instead of staying idle at home. Therefore, in consultation with medical professionals, we've designed a workflow that allows them to do so while remaining safe.
Our artisans already travel from their homes to the workplace via personal mobility shuttle, which means they're protected while in transit. At the atelier we've implemented significant distancing measures as prescribed by the Singapore government: artisans sit apart and on separate floors, wear masks, and otherwise reduce contact with one another where possible. Those who wish to work from home are assigned tasks that can be taken home, like sewing book blanks. All artisans continue to be paid at the regular rate regardless.
In this way, we'll continue to balance the mental health needs of our artisans with the steps necessary to minimise the risk to their physical health.
A pause in Indonesia
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for our Indonesian facility. While none of our artisans there have come down with Covid-19, I see no way for us to continue operations without risking the health and safety of our people. Therefore, we've temporarily paused all operations in Indonesia.
As a result, our Tomo system covers, along with a couple of other projects we were working on, will be delayed into 2021 instead of their originally-projected late 2020 release date.
I know this will be disappointing news to many of you who were looking forward to the new covers, but I'm certain you'll stand with all of us here at Musubi in doing the right thing. Covers can wait; we have an obligation to protect the safety of our people and I intend to honour it, always.
The financial fallout from Covid-19
As you've no doubt surmised, these delays and shutdowns, when combined with the natural slowdown in sales that accompanies a worldwide crisis, will wreak havoc on the financial health of Musubi and many of its fabric makers and suppliers.
Social enterprises like ours run on the precipice on the best of days; our commitment to paying our artisans and collaborators sustainable salaries means costs are always high and margins always thin. It's the same story with many of the small, family-owned makers we work with. Some—already battered by years of market indifference to craft and squeezed out by the advent of fast fashion and its destructive, low-prices-at-any-cost model—have decided to close on the back of this viral outbreak.
While the situation is damaging, we've saved up for enough runway over the past four years to see it through. I see this as an opportunity to prove that a business model built around elevating the disadvantaged and providing them sustainable levels of income is hardy enough to survive times of crisis. I know you'll stand with us as we prove, together, that there's a better way for the world to operate.
Still, idealism must be backed up by sensible, concrete action. I'm taking this opportunity to make some changes to our lineup, and to bring forward the implementation of some much-requested features that we've been working on for a while now.
Archival sales and gift cards
The first big step we'll be taking is that we'll be retiring a number of patterns and materials from our regular lineup.
We had intended to continue offering these indefinitely, but the aforementioned closures of some of the makers we work with means that archiving some of these releases is inevitable. This will also help us make room for some other fabrics and makers to join the Musubi family.
These retiring patterns will be placed in a special section of our store under the "Archival sale" heading, and will be offered at a discount to subscribers like you before being removed from the store entirely. I'll be sending out a separate email in a couple days, which will contain the link to the archival sale and the code you'll enter at checkout to apply the discount. Be sure to stay subscribed and to keep an eye out for it.
The second step is that we'll be offering gift cards on a trial basis.
This has been a consistently requested feature by the many of you who buy Musubi products as gifts for friends and loved ones. We've historically been reluctant to offer gift cards as they represent future liability and Musubi has always run debt-free. But anything we can do to ease the pain of the quarantine many of you and your loved ones are going through, and to help connect people over distance despite the need for physical separation, is something I'm happy to support.
As such, digital gift cards are available immediately on our online store:
I'm a huge believer in iterative design, and both of these steps are experiments in their own right. We'll see what the response is, and if interest is high these may stick around more permanently. As always, I'm happy to hear your feedback—simply reply to your order emails or write to us using the contact form on our website. I read everything personally and your input matters.
Free shipping for healthcare workers
Finally, I also want to announce one more thing. As a social enterprise focused on persons from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom require specialised medical attention, we're proud to stand by our healthcare workers on the frontlines of the fight against Covid-19, just as they've stood by our artisans in the past.
If you're one of these frontline workers—doctor, nurse, carer, doesn't matter—write to us using the contact form on this website with proof of your employment before you order. We'll waive shipping entirely on any order you place from now till the end of April. It can be anything: your LinkedIn page, your hospital nametag, or even just a photo of you in your scrubs. We're not picky—we know you have other things to worry about right now.
Stay strong, everyone. It's when times are darkest that our collective light is needed the most.
on behalf of everyone here at Musubi