"It is... very difficult now. Very hard life, very hard on us. We will see what we can do, but..." Between June and September, Mr. Ghulam's stoicism was fraying.
Second wave in Nepal
It wasn't too long ago that Nepal finished its lockdown, and re-opened its economy. We put in an order to re-stock our scarves then, feeling cautiously confident that Ethical Cashmere would be re-stocked well before Christmas.
But, not long after that, COVID19 cases started climbing up once more. Nepal re-imposed its lockdown. And although our weavers could technically weave from home, there wasn't time to get yarn in that short, hopeful window.
Second wave in Australia
But Nepal wasn't the only Ethical Cashmere country suffering a second COVID19 wave. Soon after, Melbourne entered lockdown as well, to try and tamp down its own rising cases of community transmission.
Of all our locations, the only one spared is me in Malaysia, the least essential location in the supply chain!
The days are still cold in Victoria, yet the continued economic slowdown seemed to be making shoppers cautious about wardrobe updates. Jason and I discussed our re-stock order, which may not even be ready in time for Christmas.
"Assure Mr. Ghulam we will not cancel. Whenever it is that they can work again, the order stands. Even if it comes in too late for the Christmas season." We knew that the order is a lifeline to our Nepali side. Although it is not a big order, perhaps it would keep one weaver afloat this year. Ethical Cashmere's first priority, is authenticity. Hopefully it would be enough to allow us to keep that lifeline the following year, and the years after.
"We can give stability." I could hear Jason's smile in his voice. The two of us have enough to weather COVID19 on our own.
A year of perseverance
As the South Asian monsoon season eased, so did Nepal's lockdown, enough that shops have re-opened. And so for now, our next batch order is in progress.
2020 is a tough year for many. But we decided to see what happens if we dare to invest. We believe there are enough people who will support business that protects the most vulnerable first.