My friends, it is time for me to share some incredibly difficult news. This chapter of ES, as we know it, is coming to a close. The hit to our made-to-order sales over the past two months, as well as the hit to our lead time from being out of our warehouse for an extended period of time, are too severe for us to recover from in a healthy and responsible way. I will say this clearly because I do not want to be misinterpreted: I know that sending our team home was the right thing to do for their safety, and I know that the decrease in sales we are experiencing is because so many of you are also in a place of financial uncertainty. This is a situation that is out of everyone’s control, and there is no way I would have sacrificed my team’s health or asked customers to spend more with us when their own family’s security is in jeopardy.
The financial reality we are facing is one that is too complicated to explain in full, but most simply our current sales are not sufficient to sustain the overhead and payroll of a team of any size. There is still demand for our garments, albeit drastically reduced from normal, but our current overhead is far, far too high in proportion to the sales that are coming in. We have made every effort to reduce overhead, but most costs are fixed and don’t change as sales volumes change. While I don’t know what the financial landscape will look like in six months, and demand may turn around, I cannot count on that, and I have no idea to what extent it will return. To count on those unknowns feels irresponsible to our team and dangerous for me and Chris.
There is also the potential that with significant effort and marketing we could increase sales and continue to cut expenses and overhead. However, there is no guarantee that we would succeed, and, after seven years of this, what that would require from me is something I don’t have the mental, emotional, and physical capacity to commit to any longer. There have been moments in the past where ES has faced financial challenges, and I was able to put in the time and energy to make it through, at whatever expense. For the past two months, I have been doing everything I can to find a path forward. I struggle with over-working and dependence on external validation, and because of this I am very tempted to find that path even if it comes at great personal cost. At this moment in time, with so much uncertainty about the future, I need to make decisions that make sense for ES as a company and a team, *and* make sense for me as a human. This truth is one I have been resisting for the past two months. As of this week, it is one I have come to terms with.
We have been providing full pay to our team throughout this situation, and because of your purchases in March and April, we’ll be able to keep our team paid as we wrap up our work over the next several months. We are able to take a limited number of additional orders this week before we close the website to new made-to-order purchases. We need to limit orders because our team needs a concrete end date in order to plan for their futures, we have a finite amount of materials on hand, and we need to know when we will be able to vacate our building. Because of the limited number of orders we are able to take from now forward, please only purchase items you have been hoping to order and know you’ll wear and love. If absolutely necessary, you’ll be able to return or exchange an item with me when I am back to work in the fall, but it will take me longer than usual as I will be operating solo. If you aren’t able to make a purchase before we stop accepting new orders, there are many sources to purchase second-hand ES items, and I will be making ES garments again in the future.
We will be producing all existing orders and orders that come in this week in May, June, and July with our current team before wrapping things up. We are following our local and state guidelines for returning to work, and as such are not able to resume normal operations at our warehouse just yet. Our goal is to get existing orders cut safely (which has to happen in our warehouse, so we need a strategy that doesn’t put our team members at risk) and delivered to our sewers that are all working from home in the next two weeks. We plan to have all existing orders and orders placed this week completed and shipped out by the end of July. Rest assured, *you will receive your orders.*
We will not be moving forward with our Cotton Canvas pre-order at this time. We do not know when we’ll receive this fabric and therefore when we would be able to complete those orders. It has been paid for, so I will be receiving it eventually, and will be making our new Cotton Canvas available at some point in the future but I don’t have details yet.
We will have one final Online Sample Sale launch in the next month, with all the remaining on hand inventory we have in our building. After that launch, we’ll be reducing prices on remaining sample sale inventory to move as much of it as we can. We still have a large number of cut but unsewn garments on hand and I will be providing that as contract work to any current team members that are interested this fall, and will slowly make those items available for purchase later in the year. We will be selling our warehouse in Nashville to cover as much of our existing debt as possible. We will likely be making our fabric available for purchase by the yard to help move some of that inventory. I don’t have any of those details finalized yet, but I will share more as I do. If you have a gift card, you are able to use that on any purchases—for made to order items, online Sample Sale items, fabric by the yard—anything we sell on our website. You will also be able to use your gift cards to purchase from me in the future.
My intention for the future of ES is to make a major pivot. I am currently planning to re-open independently in the fall, just as I started out, taking limited orders and making each garment myself from a home workshop. I may rebuild slowly and offer contract work to any ES alumni who are interested. I also plan to develop sewing patterns and kits for our garments so that this business relies less on consumption and more on skill-sharing and teaching. In the wake of such devastating loss, I am hopeful that the spirit of ES will take on a new form.
Some business owners may have handled this differently or made different decisions along the way. I can only say that for me, for ES, and for our team, I did everything I could, and I am moving forward the best way I know how in this moment. Please, please remember that I have considered extensive possible options, and this is the situation we are in. I know this news will be shocking to many of you, and you may have many ideas running through your head, but in an effort to protect my well-being, I am kindly asking that you refrain from sending me alternative ways to try and stay afloat. Making this decision at this time was critical to provide the absolute most notice and continued pay for our team, while also still allowing us to move forward with wrapping things up soon enough to avoid entering bankruptcy. We are going to do absolutely everything we can to support our team members in what is next, including making our assets and equipment available to them to keep and use for future income generation and helping them find new employment. If anyone in Nashville (or anywhere with remote work) is hiring, I have a long list of absolutely incredible individuals to connect you with.
I do not have any answers beyond what I have shared here. As soon as I know more, I will let you know. I am still processing what is happening, and need to grieve this and make sense of it myself, so I am going to be actively minimizing my time on the internet over the next several weeks. For now, I just needed you all to know what was happening in order to move forward. I am so sorry, to each one of you that believed in what we built and is perhaps disappointed by this news. I am grieving deeply and will be for a long time. Thank you for going on this journey with me, it has been absolutely unforgettable. I will never be able to thank you enough for the gift you have given me and the entire ES team for the past seven years. This community is so powerful, and I know it will continue in strength. I hope to return to it soon with a renewed vision for the future, rooted in shared knowledge and resources.
If you are so inclined, I would love to hear how ES has impacted your life (if it has), and what you’ll carry forward. For me, I will never again doubt the power of people with convictions to change and transform one another’s lives. I have seen so many of you teach and grow with one another, and you have certainly taught and grown me.