The steps we take in life often take us places we never imagined being. In 2015 I was approached to take on this legacy business. February 1, 2016, I walked into the shoe business with no previous experience in retail or fashion, except as one who loves exceptional shopping experiences and design.
Instead I brought with me a business background as a corporate communicator, brand and marketing consultant, magazine publisher and strategic planner.
I could see that the retail industry was shifting to a multiple platform experience. And in that context ZÖE was reborn in downtown Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and introduced to the world, offering a curated collection of Canadian design in clothing and accessories and unique, quality footwear.
Of course, surviving a pandemic was never in my business plan, but as they say, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Managing risk as it was literally unfolding each day became my new job. Sales plummeted to 80% below 2019 because people stopped walking. And as the new normal of working from home and new priorities took root, the need for shoes dissipated. Tourism, a large part of our business, dropped off as the world stopped.
During my credit union planning days, we used to talk about “migration risk” which would happen if the access to the business became difficult. In those days, a road closure could and would dramatically impact the community as business was rerouted elsewhere.
That is, in effect, how the pandemic changed retail and my business. It was as if all the roads to us closed. And so we had to build a new road into the virtual world where our customers were now travelling.
Over 2020 to the current time, as a result, ZÖE is predominantly an “out of Regina experience” with the majority of our customers being from outside our city and province through our online store.
Still believing in brick and mortar storefront retail, ZÖE adapted (survived) by moving to a smaller, upscale personal boutique business model to accommodate in person shopping on a by appointment basis.
We continue to hover at 80% below 2019 because we are competing now with the world, but I find it amazing that people outside of our postal code find us, and choose us in the global marketplace.
ZÖE is another word for life. And, like Linda Ellis wrote in “The Dash”, “What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash.”
Over the past years, there have been challenges, fears and tears. But there has also been the hope that, while we can never go back, the present can be more intentional and meaningful if we want it to be, and that has grounded me and informed each step.
Please know that each and every person I have had the honour of serving, both in my little shop and in the virtual space, have been my best days.
Today I am kicking off my annual birthday event to celebrate 8 years of steps and serendipity because there is no time like the present, and no present like time.
by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears but said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.
To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?