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Sorry Not Sorry

Malinda Sanna

It’s happening. Having gone nearly two years without seeing my aging parents I took a flight last week to Arizona where they spend the winter and the airports were as busy as I’ve ever seen them. Clients are slowly returning to the office. Traffic into New York City is congested, although now it’s kind of weirdly constant, not just around rush hour. And according to Business of Fashion, Google searches for high heels now exceed searches for sweatpants, as was the case pre-pandemic.

A year ago today, during the first lockdown, I started blogging. Before it became clear how much pain was to follow, I noted how the big global slowdown would allow us to get off the collective hamster wheel and dial in to things like family, nature, the importance of sustaining our environment… here is an excerpt from 2020, where I quoted Terry Tempest Williams:

“This planetary pause is asking us to rethink everything. We have to really ask ourselves…what is essential and what is non-essential.”

Then, after lockdown ended, everything exploded. Suddenly the type of work we do (LookLook mobile ethnography, which we were doing years before Covid) became the norm in the world of market research.

We had to up our game considerably. In the course of nine months, we completely rebuilt our LookLook software platform to be broadly and vertically scalable, created a WeChat mini program for our Chinese participants, and developed a do-it-yourself set-up to clients who want to bypass the middleman and get their hands in the clay.

By far, the most exciting part of the past twelve months has been making new friends and colleagues globally. With travel shut down but Zoom and Clubhouse and global webinars very much thriving, we’ve found developers to build our WeChat program, new recruitment resources all over the world, and new collaborators who found us through global podcasts. The world in many ways became smaller, because independent creatives had to find each other to survive and innovate. A recent example is our front-end developer from Hong Kong who is based in Russia but is working with our UX design team in New York City. Ironically he goes by “HQ” – and his ability to code simultaneously on Tencent servers in China and on our global platform on Amazon truly makes him the “headquarters” that is transitioning us into the future.

So yeah, 2020 sucked in a lot of ways. I worked harder than I ever have in my life. Things were scary and very challenging at times.

But I also have a renewed sense of the importance of what we do and I want to make it even  easier for people to listen to others, one-on-one, deeply and easily. Fantastic conversations are taking place, and clients are hanging on peoples’ every words. (How often does that happen?) Truths are being spoken, from what it feels like to be an Essential Worker, to how #blacklivesmatter is showing up in the fashion world, to what it means to be a college student when classes are remote, to dreaming about the future of travel. We have endless periscopes into real thoughts, real lives, real time. And life is about to get more interesting than ever.

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