Back in the early days of Refinery29 (we’re talking 2005/2006), there was a really exciting surge of independent designers and boutiques sprouting up in big and small cities alike. Katayone Adeli, Seize Sur Vingt, Opening Ceremony, Steven Alan, and Brooklyn Circus are just a few of the cult boutiques that came to define a new era of shopping and the community created as a result of those unique and personalized worlds. Fifteen years later, many of them have come and gone, but they continue to inspire a big chunk of how we still see shopping and discovery at R29 today.
Whether they are open and thriving for two years or 20, an independently owned-and-run shop can literally function as the beating heart of your neighborhood. Which is why it’s one of the many things at stake as countries around the world issue quarantines, close off borders, and shut down businesses in light of COVID-19. Practicing social distancing and self-imposed isolation is the only way to prevent the virus from spreading further, dangerously affecting people at risk of serious hospitalization and death. At the same time, it’s also critical we consider how we can support our local businesses like restaurants, bars, and boutiques so they, too, aren’t a casualty of this world-wide pandemic.
You’ve probably read this in countless news feeds, but gift cards for future meals and rounds of drinks at your favorite restaurant or watering hole can go a long way to provide a cushion to all your locals being affected. And, the same goes for your go-to designer or shop, too. Many of these companies are run by women we admire and depend on, not just for providing (often) locally made wares that keep our closets up to speed, but for setting an example of how to continue to do retail right — by creating a welcoming world we want to discover beautiful, surprising things in, and also, more deeply understand who we are and what we love in the process. Of course, since many of us are now restricted to screens at home, we suggest scheduling a coffee break to shop some of our favorites online. You’ll not only be supporting independent, mostly women-run business, but we guarantee you’ll very likely discover something that could make the next few weeks a little bit easier (for the record, the Rachel Comey Luma earrings are currently in my shopping cart as we speak).
Everyone has their own way of dealing with and moving through stress, and it’s really okay to deal with the immense anxiety and uncertainty of what’s happening right now with some shopping — especially given the fact that spending money with small businesses right now has the impact to change lives. It is very simply about paying it forward — helping people who need it, no matter where they are or what they do. We are all doing our part to make sure that life after Covid-19 — and there will be life after Covid-19 — offers hope for big AND small business owners alike. And if it means finally hitting “add to cart” on a certain plaid trench you’ve been eyeing all winter, well, we’d consider that a win for everyone.