As with tradition, this is Kate here, with our 2020 annual letter.
As I write this letter, my 8-month old daughter, Dawn, is lying on me, like a koala, not wanting to be let go. There is not much I can do except to cherish this moment and continue tapping away on my mobile phone. Working on my phone has become the new normal. Just like working from home, wearing masks, checking in, food deliveries.
This was a year where I took on the new role of being a mother, together with the stress arising from the challenge of steering a business through a crisis. To be sure, it was a daunting and draining year - a year I wanted to forget. Yet looking back, it gave me some of the best moments in both my professional and personal life.
We started 2020 with grand plans for the brand. The foundation laid through our hard work over the past 3 years appeared to be bearing fruit. Riding on that, we set ourselves ambitious goals to reach.
But then February 2020 came around and it quickly became clear that this would be a year with different priorities. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to see a scenario where shops are compulsorily shut and people compelled to stay home.
When circumstances seemed bleak and we faced the unknown, my team stood by each other, gave their best and more. Just when I should have been 200% hands on, I had only 20% to give, stuck at home nursing a newborn, navigating motherhood. The team gamely took on everything else and pushed me along. I am grateful and immensely proud of this team.
And we were also comforted by the community of partners we work with. Everyone checked in regularly. The stresses we faced were met with empathy and understanding. We listened to the hardship other entrepreneurs go through, each facing their own struggles, but no one was ever alone.
We also want to give thanks to all of you. You supported in the ways you could. You shopped despite not needing another bra. You sent gifts. You shared our brand on Instagram. You told your friends about us. You understood when we could not fulfill our promises on time. You helped us to save costs whenever you could. You pampered Dawn with gifts even though we may not have met. It did not feel like a regular business-customer relationship. It felt like we were supported by a huge network of friends who cared.
Touched and embraced by all the love shown to us, it was then that we started to let go of our survival anxieties and focused on giving back. That marked the turning point and transformed the year from bad to great.
Lifting The Spirits
We celebrated the end of circuit breaker with the Perksquad Digital Fashion Show. Seeing 12 beautiful and brave women walk down the runway reinforced why we do what we do. It is to encourage and empower. It is to celebrate and affirm. It is to tell each of ourselves that we are all enough.
Monica, Aileen, Trudy, Lilian, Raquel and Evadne
Amanda, Gwen, Serene, Nicole, Shu Wen and Laavanya
While we only launched 3 collections this year, quite a bit less than we normally do, we took pride in being part of an encouraging Estee Lauder x Perk by Kate Breast Cancer initiative that raised $5500. Although the logical thing to do in a year like this would have been to tighten our purse strings, we decided to open up, do more, and pass on the acts of kindness. This initiative was more than just a donation drive. It was a meaningful campaign that let our customers and employees know what truly matters to us and allowed us all to stand shoulder to shoulder with those amongst us whose personal battles truly concern life and death.
The year ended with a Christmas campaign that we always wanted to do. The Perk by Kate brand ethos has always been about being able to surprise and delight. While some of the stories were too private to share, we managed to document one beautiful and touching morning for Evetor and her mum.
We are sorry
There were also aspects where we fell short and for that I unreservedly apologise. Many of you would remember that we launched our own seamless underwear this year, which was very well received. However, the entire collection was pulled from the site shortly after launch because we discovered that they were not quite 100% as good as the production samples we made. After some thought, we decided to condemn the batch and offer refunds to all our customers who purchased the items. It was a painful and costly decision, but the right thing to do. Quality is just not something we can compromise on. A small number of you have not responded to our refund email, please do so and we will be in touch. We are grateful for your understanding.
On a closing note, I just want to say that this tumultuous year has taught me to be more in tune and in touch with my instincts, something which I have learnt to trust more this year. We let go of rules, timelines and expectations and operated from the heart. It taught me to go soft when circumstances are tough. It taught me to be patient. It taught me to love, to give and to receive. It taught me the importance of self care.
As Beatles sang "And in the end… the love you take is equal to the love you make"
And if there is one thing I can take away from this year, it is that love is all around, and love does see you through good times and the bad.
To 2021. ❤️