In 2006, while flora and henri was operating solely as a proprietary children’s clothing brand, we were making our tiny parkas in Eastern Canada. This was in the midst of the massive globalization of the garment industry, the effects of which we were seeing at every trade show and hearing about from each of our fabric vendors. So we were sad, but not surprised, when we were informed that the quilter was closing its doors and selling its machines to China.
What to do?
We had much trepidation about joining the global shift to manufacturing this portion of our business in China. There was much stigma at this time behind joining the wave, but we were without North American options. Our conscientious and thorough production manager, found a company that she thought might consider our quantities ‘sampling’ and produce parkas for us. She felt quite certain from her research that they were an ethical production facility and using best practices. We were adamant that we needed to be sure this was a value-sound and reputable business. With her reassurances, we moved forward, and thus, we met Winnie.
While we have never met Winnie face to face, over the past 13 years we have developed a lovely email interaction with a woman who’s labor for us is essentially ‘sampling’, but which she thinks about and struggles to make happen for us despite our small quantities and high standards. She and Amy have been in a dialogue dance from that time forward, creating the cozy performance parkas, now for women and children, that appear each Fall in our shops.
So what does this have to do with Coronavirus?
When we first heard about Covid-19 in China, we reached out to check on Winnie to be sure that all was OK for her. We did not hear back, but knew that she was located outside of the infected areas.
Then, Coronavirus hit Seattle. The articles began to appear in the news that we did not have adequate protective gear for our medical professionals and masks were not being encouraged for civilians. Then we heard from Winnie:
How are you?
I heard from news that corona virus brakes out in US.How are you doing?Is everything ok? Please advise if I can help on any aspect.
I am planning to delivery some masks for you,I guess they are urgently demanded now. As virus is under control in China, it would not be too difficult to get normal masks—disposable civilian masks.Please let me know the quantity you need.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Hope everything goes well with you, your family and your company !
While we have seen irrational discrimination and racism in the US, where the blame for this virus has been placed on the Chinese, here was the person who stepped up to care for our company and families. Despite having just been through the same crisis in her own country, she was thinking of us, her ‘sampling’ order, and taking action to care for us and protect us.
It is with such honor that I post this THANK YOU to Winnie for her generosity and her years of kindness and talented production.
This was her last note to me:
Feel secure to know that the parcel was well received finally!
Hope all of you safe in this crisis!
It is also my honor that could be able to help in masks in some way, plz don’t hesitate if more masks are needed, plz let me know if there are further request!
Best regards to your parents and your family
Winnie, we love you and are so grateful for the concern and kindness you showed to the members of flora and henri and their families. I hope that anyone who ever wears a parka made for us by you will be protected by the love and care that you put into everything you do.