We’re officially in Month 3 of self-isolation with an uncertain road ahead but for some much-needed inspiration, FASHION is reaching out to some of our favourite Canadians to get a peek into how they’re living their lives in lockdown (remember: #StayHomeSaveLives). Each week, keep an eye out for new self-isolation diaries from actors, designers, influencers and artists who are riding this uncertain time out with us.
This week, we’re hearing from Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan, the co-creative directors of outerwear brand Mackage. The two are self-isolating in Montreal in their respective homes, faced with the challenges of running a brand while social distancing, but also relishing in the opportunities to re-focus their attentions and connect further with their staff, families and community. Here’s how they’re doing it.
What are your respective living situations, and how are you balancing work and family?
Elisa: I am living with my hubby and three boys – let’s just say there is never a dull or quiet moment in the house. They are making these eight weeks very entertaining. To be honest I am usually always on the go traveling so it has been a gift to be with them every night for dinner. I am hoping I will be able to maintain this in our new normal.
Eran: I am at home with my eight month old daughter Skye and my beautiful wife. I have absolutely loved spending all of this time together, it’s been a blessing. I have to admit that finding the balance of work and family time is always a struggle but despite the long work days, I still get to sneak in time with them every day which I absolutely love.
How are you running their business from home? What sort of routine works best for you?
Elisa: We are blessed to have an amazing team and we have been able to adapt quickly and efficiently. We are on constant video calls but more than anything, it’s because we love seeing each other! I have heard this from many and I echo it: being in the same place all day makes it hard to break up my work day. My current routine is to wake up at 7am, get my kids ready for home schooling that starts at 8:30 and then I am on calls from 8:30 until….who knows. But I prioritize a healthy lunch every single day.
Eran: Design wise, I am in constant awe as to how our team has adapted! We are doing things that I never thought possible (remote fittings over video calls for example) and are being far more strategic and purposeful. As for routine, I workout every morning and then spend time with my daughter and wife – it’s the best way to start the day given that it ends pretty late.
What are the challenges of trying to run a brand while social distancing? How are you touching base and keeping communication going?
Elisa: The challenge is actually an opportunity to think outside the box. This has allowed us to communicate differently and show a different side of our brand that has always really been there. Things were moving so fast before but this has allowed us to connect back to the soul of this company and connect with our community.
Eran: As Elisa said, this is an opportunity. Do not get us wrong, there are aspects of the business that have been challenging but at the end of the day, we feel more connected than ever to our teams and to our community.
It can be tough to stay creative and optimistic during a time of crisis. How are you being creative during this time?
Elisa: Eran and I can’t believe how much creativity we have had in this time. It’s allowed us to reset and innovate, as we were when we built this brand.
Eran: We feel more than creative than ever. We are a brand that has always loved to dig deep and right now we are finding new ways to challenge ourselves and push our creative boundaries.
How are you keeping the staff positive during this time?
Eran: We’re making sure that everyone is involved in our decisions and feels more connected to the future of our brand. It’s important that everyone feels like they play an integral part in what we’re continuing to build.
Elisa: We also make sure we celebrate important moments over a cocktail on Zoom of course!
What are you doing during down time to keep yourselves entertained?
Elisa: I have so many recipes to share! I have been cooking so much and it’s another outlet for my creativity. Also, I have been training and making it a priority which has been so very hard over the past many years given the travel that we have had to do. We also have movie night and game night with the kids and I love every moment with them.
Eran: Same as Elisa – cooking! Who would have thought that I could be in the kitchen creating new recipes with my wife but it’s been a really fun way to connect together at the end of the day.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in adapting your business to run from home, and also of working in an industry that many people aren’t willing or able to spend money on right now?
Eran: Well, like we said earlier we are really proud to have reconnected with who we were when we started this brand. We have so much soul and we care so very much about our community. Given what’s going right now, we have intentionally leaned into our community more than ever and have found ways to give back as much as we can. This time of year is traditionally slow for a brand such as ours but we are out there, connecting.
Elisa: I also think that understanding what people need and what is relevant. We have developed new products that speak to the current situation such as our Rainbow Kris hoodie and our mask. We constantly think of what can we provide that can help our community and do good.
Has this lockdown made you reflect at all on your own lives, relationships, brand, or the fashion industry at large?
Eran: We are absolutely learning from this moment right now. Spending time with family and truly connecting with our team has been the biggest lesson of all. In many ways, we are thankful that we have had time to reset, look inward and then forward.
Elisa: I am also reflecting on everything. This time has allowed me to take better care of myself and spend quality time with my family. From a work perspective, we recognize how much more sustainably we can work – working from a distance is a new way of working but frankly incredibly efficient. We can now move forward and work better and smarter.
What is your hope for the fashion industry in a post-Covid world?
Eran: I hope that as an industry we focus on what’s important and how we can continuously give back. I know that that is exactly what we will be doing moving forward.
Elisa: My hope is that we adapt to this new normal and that we learn from it. We need to focus on investing in fashion that lasts to not consume in excess anymore, we need to reduced travel because we did so much good to our planet. We need to always make sure that the consumer is always at the centre. It is a dialogue, no longer a one direction conversation.