To say it’s been a challenging 365+ days would be the ultimate understatement. Last year at this time, we started isolating, social distancing, wearing masks, and had to close down our San Francisco kimono store, like so many small businesses across the country.
Although it’s been difficult for everyone, we know that the human spirit is resilient and will find a way to grow. As Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist spiritual leader, has said, "No mud, no lotus." While we don’t wish the hardships of this past year on anyone, we also know that hardships are a part of life. This time, we went through these challenges collectively, but folks are going through hardships every day — from social justice, to health concerns, to mental health — our community faces it all. And we believe that from those hardships and amidst that pain, life also will give us something beautiful and healing.
A year into this pandemic, we’re taking stock of all we’ve learned, all we’ve been through, and all we’re celebrating. We know that this has been a year full of challenges, setbacks, and pain. But at KIM+ONO, we know that we are always stronger when we stand together. So in the midst of difficult times, we are honoring those difficulties, uplifting those who deserve to be heard and held, and offering our deepest hopes, joy, and gratitude for the things we’ve learned from this past year. Here’s how we’ve transformed together this year:
Being a small business, we understood how hard it was (and still is) to navigate this new normal. While our women’s kimono robes are still available online and, we were grateful that our shipping capabilities didn’t change this past year, our kimono store on Grant Avenue in Chinatown was forced to close down due to the San Francisco shelter in place order and we are still running limited hours. We know how difficult it can be to cut workers’ hours, figure out how to work from home, and stay afloat against the odds. We also know that we are always stronger when we stand together (even when staying apart). So with gratitude and hopefulness in mind, we also wanted to find a way to support other local small businesses who were forced to close down or alter their services due to COVID-19.
Last year, KIM+ONO decided to use a portion of all of our sales to support small businesses who were running initiatives to help our frontline heroes or running online programs to create a nurturing space for the rest of us while we stay at home. This included Andytown, our favorite local coffee shop. We partnered with Andytown to deliver coffee and treats to frontline workers and hospital staff at ZSFG. We also partnered with SF New Deal. When we heard about SF New Deal, an initiative launched last March to provide immediate relief to small businesses while they await government aid in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, we knew we wanted to work with them. Because of your purchases last year, we were able to take a portion of our sales and donate a week’s worth of meals to Gum Moon Womens’ Residence with food from beloved local restaurant Capital Restaurant. SF New Deal says, “Many factors go into pairing restaurants with community sites, but in this case, Gum Moon has had a long history with Capital Restaurant in Chinatown. Capital is quite beloved in Chinatown for their continued presence in the neighborhood, it’s woman-owned by someone who was once a server there, and has been in the neighborhood for almost 3 decades.” We were so grateful to be able to share the good will you’ve shown us with the women at Gum Moon and the team at Capital.
In addition to sending coffee and treats to frontline workers at ZSFG, when we got the call that Gordon Manor, a family owned nursing home and senior facility was in dire need of face masks, we jumped at the chance to help this community as well. Due to the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus, the facility was short staffed and running out of PPE (personal protective equipment) as the COVID positive population at the facility continued to increase. In April 2020, we were able to donate 1000 face masks to the incredible nursing staff and facility staff to stay protected while caring for our most vulnerable member of our community. This was only possible because you continued to support our small business, and we cannot say thank you enough for helping us maintain our ability to give back to our beloved community.
With the killing of George Floyd this past summer, the longstanding racial injustices in our country came to the surface yet again. It isn’t a new struggle, but a continued one. One that has been passed down with every generation. We wanted to let you, our community, know where we stand. And that is: with our Black brothers and sisters. This year was not the time to stand back and wait for incremental justice. This year was the time to demand change, practice true allyship, and put our money where our hearts are. That’s why we came together as a team (we are a small team of ten!), to discuss how we could better dismantle white supremacist systems at play in our own environment. We made a commitment to uplift and amplify Black female voices in our journal posts, make sure our editorial photo shoots included a diverse BIPOC population on screen and off, and we donated to several causes including the NAACP, Campaign Zero, Black Women’s Blueprint, and Project Nia to say Black Lives Matter.
Recently, we also opened up a fundraiser for Stop AAPI Hate to help combat the recent violent attacks on our own community. If you haven’t been able to donate yet, you can donate here. We wrote more about how this particular attack on our fellow AAPI community has hit home and you can read our open letter addressing these hate crimes here.
Along with featuring the work of beautiful women like Cora Harrington, Ashleigh Reddy, and Jillian Knox, we also gifted five floral kimono robes to five amazing mothers who worked the frontlines during this crisis. You can see the full feature on these women and their incredible resilience here.
We also made it our mission to partner up with other like-minded, female entrepreneurs doing good in the world. That brought to life our brand new (and fan favorite!) VIVIANCHAN x KIM+ONO Collection. Vivian Chan is another WOC and new mother, so this collaboration was especially meaningful to us. You can read more about the brand new kimono fabric we used on this special collab and what this women’s kimono robe collaboration meant to us in the journal.
And in the following weeks, we’ll continue to uplift and amplify the mothers of this past year. They have been our backbone throughout this entire challenge, and around this time of year, there’s nothing we love to do more than shower the mothers in our life with love and appreciation.
Last year, you stood by our small, family run business—allowing us to help our community by feeding healthcare professionals, donating PPE to places in need, and partnering with local businesses to provide food for women and children in need. We came through this past year together because we stood by each other’s sides.
Which is why this year we committed to uplifting other women, as much as you’ve uplifted us. If there’s one thing we learned this year, it’s that we can make it through anything when we stand together. We are sending out love and strength to you, lovely. And wishing you only bright days ahead!