In lieu of a proper girls’ night out, I found myself on a FaceTime call with three of my closest friends this weekend. We spoke about our fears and uncertainties, and I shared the experiences with COVID-19 of our artisan team in Shanghai. Knowing life there is slowly getting back to normal, I could tell my friends, “it will be ok,” from a place of truth and confidence. I realize how unique my situation is and want to share this message with all of you.
My parents started Sorrelli in 1983, at their kitchen table. After making all of our jewelry in the US for 16 years, they got on a plane and set up a family-owned factory in Shanghai in 1999. The same team has been with us over 20 years. Our artisans are more than employees, they are family to us.
On Jan 24th, the People’s Republic of China mandated that we close our factory to help fight the coronavirus. What ensued has been challenging but uniting. Lucy, who leads our team in Shanghai, carefully tracked everyone’s travel plans, checked on safety and health daily, and developed a health protocol. We sent protective masks and cleaning supplies when they were impossible to purchase over there. Many China-based factories have been closed for months. We could open our doors again within three weeks thanks to Lucy and the team. Of course, they still stick to all protocols. Everything is still scrubbed down with Clorox, all employees wear masks and gloves, and everyone gets a temperature check before entering the company shuttle bus and again before entering the factory.
Flash forward to now. New cases of COVID-19 in Shanghai are on the decline. While the team there has some breathing space again, we are in an increasing state of panic and anxiety here in the US. We are all scared to be locked-in at home for weeks, if not months. This time around, our Shanghai team helps us to stay optimistic and safe. We talk to Lucy daily to learn from her experience. She is even coordinating to ship masks back, now that they are a scarce commodity here.
As I connect with Lucy, console my friends over a virtual glass of wine, and talk to my parents, my sister, and brother, who also work at Sorrelli, I genuinely feel part of one global family. A sisterhood spanning generations, borders, ethnicities, and time zones. Supporting one another in times of stress and uncertainty. I want to share our story because, in the midst of misinformation and anxiety, it makes me confident we will get through this. And this is just one of many really cool stories of camaraderie and togetherness: helpers are sewing masks, perfume factories are creating hand-sanitizer. They show us the power of people uniting in times of crisis.
Our team in Shanghai beat this. We will beat this, together.
Be well and stay safe, there are people out there who want you to succeed and are willing to help.