Being a “non-essential” entrepreneur during a global health crisis

Since March 2020 our lives have been turned upside down by an unprecedented health crisis, at least for our generation.

I will not dwell on government decisions and restrictions or on figures and scientific advice.

However, I wanted to share with you the experience of this crisis with regard to my small fashion company. Non-essential trade.

In March 2020, when I learn of the total lockdown measures and the closure of the borders, I stay positive. It won’t last forever, in a few weeks everything will be back in order and I will be able to leave for the country I love so much, Morocco, to create and launch the production of the summer collection: the most important collection of the year.

Then the weeks pass, the measures get harder and I understand that we are far from being out of the woods. I think about how to work at a distance… I have a lot of new ideas for this collection and I have to find new craftsmen, experts in these fields. The idea is to make a real transition towards eco-responsible production and to launch my first ready-to-wear collection in a slow fashion approach. Alas, I cannot do this at a distance.

Come on, stay positive: no summer collection rather than a distance collection, without the planned novelties etc. BUT, we take advantage of this time to focus on creation, ideas, communication, commercial actions, marketing, branding etc.

As days and weeks go by, the TodoList diminishes or even disappears, which is rather satisfying. Maoba manages to make progress on tasks and questions that have been unresolved for months. We rediscover the desire to create, we have lots of new ideas to develop. Then again, the extendable ToDo reappears magically.

France is then at the end of its total lockdown, which is also rather satisfying.

So, we begin to plan a trip to Morocco for the whole month of August, convinced that the borders will reopen for the summer period. But another disappointment, since Morocco will only reopen its borders at the beginning of September, and under certain conditions… For reasons unrelated to all this, we had obligations in France in September & October. We then take tickets which take off at the beginning of November. FINALLY, we will be able to leave and work on a collection for the holidays. In terms of timing, it’s going to be short but we’ll get there. The collection won’t be as big as planned but there will be a collection! In a few weeks we’ll have to find a new sewing workshop, a supplier of recycled fabric, a supplier of leather & suede etc.

We need a collection for Christmas if we don’t want to die.

We start to get really scared for our project… No collection for a whole year is still a big deal. Especially when you’re a small company in its beginnings.

It is important to know that for us, the summer and Christmas periods are the most important of the year. That’s what allows us to make our figure for the year. 

The sledgehammer blow, less than a week before our flight: E. Macron announces a French reconfinement and the closing of the borders.

Neither one, nor two, we try everything for the whole: we find a flight that takes off on Saturday 31.10, we book, we go to do a PCR test and we cross our fingers to be able to leave anyway. In two steps, three movements, we are in Agadir in Morocco!

On arriving in Morocco, I meet Halima Fanedoul, founder of GFA. The magic of social networks has allowed us to meet each other and today to work together!

GFA was like an evidence. It is thanks to the agency that I was able to bounce back so quickly. The agency welcomed me to its workshops, introduced me to its various suppliers and this enabled me to create the first ready-to-wear collection in optimal conditions and in an eco-responsible way, as well as the leather goods collection for the winter of 2020.

The workshop, located in the Agadir region of Morocco, is managed by experienced designers who have worked for major fashion houses. It is a team on a human scale, which respects working conditions from a social and financial point of view.

Thanks to their sustainable consultant Pierro, Maoba is on its way to being officially labelled as an eco-responsible brand by the UNGC.

The Green Fashion Agency allows us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. In addition, we are part of a team of experts, each in a different field: communication, art direction, digital strategy, eco-responsible production, etc. The team is there to accompany, boost and solve!

GFA is collaboration, mutual help: each entrepreneur has different experiences and specific skills. The idea is to be able to put all this together, so that everyone brings their skills and competencies to the team. The team building spirit is very present.

Maoba today

Today, January 2021: Maoba has launched a winter collection & a summer collection is in production.

In just a few months the GFA has been able to boost my business, motivate me, get me back on the road to entrepreneurship without even feeling that the world is still in crisis. The projects for the future follow one after the other: opening of a shop, the offices of the Green Fashion Agency, organisation of events, soon the shooting of the next collection, etc.

This is what the last few months have been like as an entrepreneur! Twists, surprises, doubts, meetings, but above all a lot of work 😉

In life as in entrepreneurship, I think there is no such thing as chance.

Believe in your dreams, the Green Fashion Agency is there to make them come true 😉

Inès, founder of Maoba Design