Kate Carroll, as told to Universal Standard Editorial Director Amanda Richards
I wasn’t even looking for a new job when I found Universal Standard — I was just a customer. Working in fashion and not being able to participate was tough, so I was always hunting for a good wardrobe. My previous job was at a large corporate e-comm brand. I was working with incredible people, but I didn’t feel totally connected to the work. So when I discovered US, I was stoked. I wanted to know everything about them — how long they’d been around, who worked there, everything! I was truly intrigued from the moment I realized they existed.
Then I discovered they were hiring, and I wrote them a love letter.
I wanted to participate in what this brand was doing because I believed in it. I felt as if the founders were talking directly to me when I read about their vision; a utopia where size was irrelevant and style was for everyone. I got the job, and when I started I hit the ground running. As a stylist, I was able to create the shopping experience I’d always wanted for myself. Of course, a lot has changed since I started — and the current global crisis has changed things even more. Social distancing is counter to our brand approach, and of course, it limits our ability to get in front of people and help them find the clothes they love. We can’t see customers in person, or have them try on clothing in our spaces.
But we can still connect.
How do we do that, exactly? Well, we’ve changed our format to a very intimate video call. We call it the Virtual Showroom, and we provide fit, styling and wardrobe consultations. I have really enjoyed being able to still see customers face-to-face and interact with them. I am taking calls from kitchens, patios, and closets. I have found that everyone is looking for a little connection during this time.
I think the most important responsibility we have as a brand is to maintain authenticity. We acknowledge how this pandemic is affecting all of us. Instead of pretending it’s business as usual, we have shared as a team our personal lives with all of our customers. Sharing our own experiences through all of this will not only make us stronger as a community at large, but also as a brand.
We also have the obligation to participate in making a difference, which is why I love our “buy-one-give-one” Foundation initiative, which allows us to send a piece of Foundation to medical workers who deserve something special. We’re doing what we can, and I love that our customers are in that mindset, too.
During this time, I’ve also had the pleasure of checking back in with my closet and rediscovering the Universal Standard pieces I really love. One of the pieces that really surprised me in a work from home capacity was our Cigarette Pants and Moro Ponte Pants. I wasn’t sure how they would work because they had such a structured silhouette. Would they actually be comfortable enough to sit in at home all day? Plot twist: they are amazingly comfortable. And they make me feel like I’m still a professional going to work. It’s also been a high moment for all of the turtlenecks I wear. Finally, I’m super into our Pick-of-the-Month, the Lauren Core sweatshirt in a brand new forest green. It’s super soft and comfortable, and lends itself very well to working from home.
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