Monday will be three weeks since the fire. I have some good days where my lower eyelids do not weigh down and my chest pain isn’t suffocating me at the top of my throat. There are mornings that I wake up without the image of the fire and life seems normal for a moment. This time seems precious, as the moment I remember, my body goes into a heavy curl.
Writing seems to help, we thought sharing our journey might help others going through hardships. Small business owners often feel lonely when facing trying times.
Losing everything Arno and I built broke us, then the outpouring of love and support from many communities surrounding us gave us hope: factory owners from all over Los Angeles reached out to offer their services and support, the Mayor’s office organized a Rapid Response Team with Work Force Los Angeles to provide the displaced employees and 5 business owners with assistance, fabric vendor James Green from Goldrush Stardust donated rolls of fabrics without a second thought. Brands and retailers sent incredible messages of support, other business owners who have experienced disaster shared their trials and survival stories to show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
This incredible outpouring of love and support leaves us breathing to rebuild and restart. The day after the fire, a team of fire fighters guided us through the burnt site to look through the damage and potential items that might have been saved. The process tore me into pieces. I could barely breath scanning our building and the entire block. Watching the bulldozer demolish the collapsed roof and everything underneath made me fade into an empty state in order to cope with the heartbreak I was experiencing.
Arno and the team of fire fighters found a few pieces intact. He bundled them up to take to the laundry the same day. I am crying remembering the visual of him going through the rubble. I was frozen those few days. We managed to save some pieces that are currently with a finishing contractor and will announce a small re-launch soon!
To every person, friend, family, business, brand, organization, that supported us during those difficult times: we love you! Inside Out Agency, we love you! To all the retail buyers that came through to write the collection: thank you so much for trusting us, it gives us the courage and strength to continue.
We planned to visit NY for market months ago and decided to fly there no matter the pain but also to have a change of perspective. New York motor scooters forced the air into my lungs. My body must have known that I needed to feel the wind in my face. Arno was nervous for me (as well as Ashley being my passenger) but they braved it out as I fought hard to ride the scooter. I was shaking the first few seconds of practice, but the electric motorcycle scooters only go about 30 miles an hour. Riding through New York traffic through Chelsea to the MET had me laughing, smiling and being present while healing my broken soul.
When we came back from New York last week, we ordered our organic cotton twills to start up production. Many of our customers kept their orders, graciously willing to wait for the dresses to be re-made. One of our cutters prioritized our Verona and Epsilon Ursae dresses on his cutting table so that we can start sewing production immediately.
I have good days and I have bad days. On the good days, I am running around like before, organizing production, visiting fabric vendors, ordering markers for re-cuts. I don’t take these days for granted, on the bad days, I try to allow myself to break down into tears when I need to.
We thank you for all the support, the incredible outpouring of love around the world. We will come back strong. Miss Diana Ross keeps playing in my head, “I will survive.”
Tears are rolling down as I end this first journal post. There is so much pain I feel but there is so much love fighting for the light to come through.
Love + Light,