How I grew in 2020 with Darshana Salvisberg

Darshana Salvisberg
In the second part of this mew series I am talking to Darshana Salvisberg. Darshana is the founder of Atelier ParsMei. An eco-friendly, boutique feeling children’s brand that dresses mums as well.

A brand that offers convertible, classic contemporary design. The label is very conscious when it comes to their sustainable footprint and ensures that every aspect of production is transparent – respecting both the planet and its inhabitants.

I had the pleasure to meet Darshana in Florence during Pitti Bimbo twice and I am so happy to catch up with her here today. And hopefully in person very soon again too. She is a truly inspiring person that brings a lot of passion with her.

Let’s hear how she did over the last months:

Paul & Paula: How did 2020 start for you? And what were your original business plans for this year?
Darshana: The beginning of 2020 was already hectic for us as a family as we moved back to Switzerland from Dubai. The exciting part was the launch of Atelier Parsmei’s first ever Spring Summer 2020 collection online. The not so exciting part was the decision for my husband and I to separate. Followed by news of a pandemic taking over the world, and the ensuing lockdown as a shock for everybody.

And then it was March! How has your business been affected by the coronavirus?
We saw closure of small boutiques, cancellation of orders, cancellations of the 2 largest children’s wear trade expositions. Due to the lockdown and Covid-19 cases, we experienced huge delays with our factories. Both with respect to the development of our Spring Summer 2021 collection as well as the production of Autumn Winter 2020 collection and the delays continuing to date.

And is your business model resilient enough to recover from the impact of a crisis and manage potential crises in the future? Meaning, have you been able to lay the groundwork for recovery or are you still ‘just’ reacting?
The good thing about us being a sustainable brand is that we do not produce big quantities. We do not like to hold stock, which meant that with a small production, we were on the safe side as we did not take a big financial risk. We also had the flexibility to manage production volume which helped us deal with changes in wholesale orders.
As a new brand, we were, however, not able to attend the kids wear fairs Playtime Paris and Pitti Bimbo. And for us, they are great platforms to make our brand aware to the global buyers.
That said, we do not see the fairs happening anytime this Winter, therefore our challenge remains the ability for us to present our products to our buyers virtually.

I am sure the pandemic is a big learning curve for all of us. What was the biggest take away for you as a business owner so far?
I think that as a new start up, we have to adapt very fast to changes and also accept that things can happen in a different order than the one we have in our mind.

How do you do to stay optimistic?
Absolutely. Sometimes when we are in a dark phase, we think that we have been buried. But actually we have just been planted.

And what is the hardest part of this pandemic for you?
Restrictions with respect to how we live our lives. It has been hard to accept a reduced level of freedom in many aspects. And especially the inability to see people we love due to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Powerlessness vis a vis the viral ravage.

What kind of business opportunities happened over the last months?
We were so happy that Playtime offered their online showroom service. Despite the cancellation of the fairs, we had a number of buyers from around the world showing interest in Atelier Parsmei and contacting us. We have also started working with a sales agent in China and we are very optimistic about Atelier Parsmei’s future.

Has your relation with your local community changed since March?
Not really.

What is the feedback from your clients/ customers?
Our clients like our niche products, the quality we offer and the stories behind each of our collections. They are excited to see how we evolve as a brand.

Last question: What is the first thing that comes into your mind when I say ‘2021’?
New beginnings!

Thank you Darshana, wishing you all the best of luck in 2021.


Read the interview with Chloe Bowers

Photo: Darshana Salvisberg private

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