Every Thursday during the pandemic, we’re checking in on members of the jewelry trade in an attempt to glean shareable tips and tricks for doing business—and living as well as possible—during the COVID-19 crisis.
Today we hear from Danielle Papin, cofounder (with partner Wade Papin) of Vancouver, British Columbia–based jewelry brand Pyrrha, a Certified B Corporation and member of 1% for the Planet that’s in the midst of building a new, zero-carbon studio.
JCK: Where are you located and who do you live with?
Danielle Papin: I live in Vancouver with Wade; our 8-year-old daughter, Hazel; and our dwarf hamster, Sam.
How are you guys, and how is your state of mind during this stage of the pandemic?
We’re feeling pretty antsy—we’ve been working from home, supervising the building of our new zero-carbon studio, and homeschooling our daughter, so it’s been logistically challenging, and we’re craving a sense of normalcy.
When quarantines began last spring, how did you adapt your business to the scary and changing environment?
We focused on keeping the studio open for whoever was able and wanted to come in, and encouraged anyone who could to work from home. We were patient and understanding of everyone’s unique positions and anxieties—losing some people in the process—and we’ve managed to weather the storm.
We’re now back to full capacity in production (our office staff is still working from home), although our COVID safety protocols have made us a bit less efficient. Thankfully, we’ve been able to keep up with what has ended up being a pretty high demand for our jewelry, so we feel fortunate to have come out relatively unscathed.
How have your customers changed their habits since the pandemic began?
Our online business is flourishing, and there’s been an increase in demand for our talismans with of-the-moment sentiments that speak to the challenges that we’re all currently facing.
Business has been great this past year because people are thinking more about where they spend their money, and they’re looking for jewelry pieces with both meaning and longevity. Our retail and wholesale customers have been very loyal and supportive throughout the pandemic, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
How has not doing trade shows changed the way you do business? And are you headed to Las Vegas in August?
We aren’t counting on attending in-person shows because our vaccination schedule in Canada is a bit uncertain right now. We’re playing it safe, as we don’t want to jeopardize our salespeople’s physical or mental health [and want to wait] until they feel comfortable traveling again.
We very much miss the personal aspect of trade shows, as relationships are the lifeblood of our business. We’re focusing on being supportive in other ways: more phone calls, more Zoom meetings, more frequent social media reach-outs…just being there in general has really helped.
Are there changes you’ve made in your business during the pandemic that you think you will continue?
This year, we invested in some higher-level team members—more planners and organizers (to accommodate the changing COVID landscape). It has positively impacted our efficiency and the speed with which we can fulfill orders. In our new studio, we plan to be very conscious about how and where we put workstations, allowing everyone to have their own spaces while working as a group. It’s always a good idea to be prepared should we be faced with a similar situation in the future.
How have you been relaxing during this time?
We go for many walks in the woods. We’ve spent more time outdoors as a family this past year than we have in the past five years. It’s really fed our souls. We’re fortunate to live in a city with a huge amount of outdoor space—parks, woods, beaches all within a five-minute walk from our house.
Any TV/movie/podcast/book recs?
I’ve been reading a ton this past year, which is a happy upside to a terrible situation. I just finished Girl, Woman, Other and loved it. We’ve had our share of Netflix binging, and we can’t wait for the second season of Ted Lasso on Apple TV+—with all the heaviness in the world, it’s nice to watch a series that’s uplifting and life-affirming. We were also mesmerized by the Fantastic Fungi documentary, which really tied into our forest walks—I even downloaded a mushroom identifier app!
Top: Danielle Papin with her daughter, Hazel, at the beach in Vancouver (all photos courtesy of Pyrrha)
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