Every once in a while I, founder and CEO of Northern Playground, send out letters giving you an honest peak behind the scenes of the company. We believe that openness is an essential part of being a responsible contributor to society. This is the sixth letter. Read my previous letters here.
Firstly: The Corona virus means demanding times for all of us, and in many different ways. For some it is a matter of life and death. That should be every persons top priority for now. But it also means an economic crisis for both big and small companies. For some, a lifetime of work could be destroyed in a matter of weeks. This letter is just an example of how it affects a small clothing company like Northern Playground.
The past few months, Northern Playground has invested a lot of time and money in initiatives that will launch in March and April. In a few weeks we will be launching a new website, in April we will be opening a permanent store in Oslo and our collaboration with climate organization Protect Our Winters is already out. The future has been looking very bright, and we have taken some big risks because everything has been going in the right direction. What should have been two months of excitements and celebrations has now been turned upside down. Let me be modest: We are anxious to see what happens these next few months.
We have already seen the effects of Corona in multiple areas:
"Nobody" is shopping in stores, and online sales are very uncertain. The flow of revenue is stopping.
The Norwegian currency is also making a negative contribution. The exchange rate has gone from 10 to 11 against the Euro, making a big difference for us who pay production costs in Euro, and receive most of our revenue in Norwegian kroner. This year's largest delivery is in April. The original bill of 1.2 million will now be 1.3 million or more. We hadn't budgeted that in.
Our planned store opening is of course put on hold. That means money out and none in.
Less sales affects more than just us. This winter we have been in contact with multiple companies about ordering Made in Oslo products for their employees. All of these contacts now have other issues to worry about. That means that the women in Tøyen and in Grünerløkka will be out of a job for a long time.
As you probably understand, this is a scary situation.
This might seem like a cry for help and a "please - buy our products now". To be honest, it might just be. But most of all I want to say: Please - do what must be done for society to keep going onwards and that as few as possible go bankrupt. It is tempting to rely on the government. Rely on them paying us with new lay off rules and economic rescue packages. But I think we're fooling ourselves if we think that that's all it takes. The government can't pick up on every little case, and they don't have the economy to save everyone. That especially goes for small businesses. Your own wallet has never been so important for the survival of businesses like these. It might be tempting to save money now, but that will create a lose-lose situation in the end. Instead, support the businesses that are struggling, and the ones you want to survive. Remember that the internet has fantastic opportunities for environmentally friendly consumption that supports local businesses!
Buy a gift card from the local theater for your uncle, order a few hours from a consultant you can use this fall, support an online concert or pre-pay for a few appointments from the masseuse on the corner. Corona will eventually go away, and we will all benefit from society not lying down with a broken back when we come out the other side.
Are you in?
Regards from a couch potato in Oslo,