blog - 6 min.

Follow up to the series in March-April 2020. How are our entrepreneurs doing 4 months later?

Photo by: Dorina van der Graaff

Tosca Otten has thirteen years of experience working in fashion and just launched her own brand TOS Gallery.

How has COVID-19 effected her business and what came of her predictions in March earlier this year?


Which of the measures you have taken earlier this year are still active?

I kept working from home for the first 2.5 weeks. Then I got a bit of strange symptoms, including sleeping badly, being unproductive, restless and still not feeling like anything else. That was a fascinating lesson, because I thought that being alone would be easy-peasy for me, I like to be at home, alone, in my own bubble. So that was a disappointing realisation. The fact that freedom had moved away from me or something had a direct impact on my productivity and on my mindset.

I need impulses from the outside world, I get energized when I have to deal with novelty, whether that is because I walk a different route to my office or I have something else for breakfast, or because I see someone on the street in a nice outfit, or a strange person who does something strange, they are all impulses that give the feeling that the world is not repeating itself. It became a prison and a routine and apparently my mojo kills both personally and professionally.

So I went back to the office twice a week, where I worked alone, and luckily got a production boost as well as a personal boost.

What has the ultimate effect been on your services / supply chain?

The supply chain has not yet changed. I don’t do pre-productions, because I don’t want a deed stock and find it too expensive, but I did make some more sample collections for my new sales agents. But, from thinking along with other crea-bea’s, a bit of a new business has emerged, which can best be described as visual / conceptual branding plus, where necessary, flying tips.

This is especially the case with conscious fashion brands under construction, who all actually want to solve a social problem, with sustainable and conscious, traditional designs. Funnily enough, I am so busy and discovered a new branch in fashion that I think is fantastic. I learn from the different approaches and angles how I can apply that to my own brand, but also to the brands of others, and that is how it is becoming a dynamic story.

It is also very interesting to be able to see the vision of the other entrepreneurs and to help convert it into a powerful brand. They are reflection lessons, but also confirmations of how I create my own brand. Based on my mistakes and successes, I can help steer others, and I think that’s cool. In addition, I meet all nice people that I really like to have around me, which gives me a huge boast.

It’s very personal, and that’s not always the case in fashion.

How are things now with your staff?

All sorts of new opportunities are coming my way, I have been able to hire new sales agents, a new scarf collection is coming and I have had a digital team for a few months now to boost my website and socials. So I can suddenly deploy and delegate (freelance) people every month, so that I have more time for what I am best at. Which is great, although it is also quite a bit of coordination work. Fortunately, I actually like that.

So I work with permanent freelancers, partly because I am too small to hire people, but also because I just believe in a kind of equal freedom. We work together, not them for me or I for them.

What opportunities have you seized in the past period?

Safe to say, I think I have found new opportunities in this strange period. I have created a situation where I am free to choose who I work with, but also that the customer (the brand) can choose where they want to put me, for how many hours, but that they can also contact me for urgent matters and things that a teammate might not get around to, because I have a fairly broad skillset. It’s all about flexibility and collaboration.

An agreement with myself is therefore to only work with people that I like, that I click with directly and well, and to work on projects that I really believe in, which I think add something valuable to the world and so want to make the world a little bit more beautiful.

Everything I build now as much as possible for fun, respect, understanding and freedom.

What opportunities do you see in the near future?

I see a lot in connecting the different parties I work with now. I think island thinking is over, I’m looking for bridges;
How can we help each other?
What can we learn from each other?
Can’t we give each other good feedback and put our inventions and lessons on the table together?

Something in that direction. In particular, the entrepreneurs who want to do something with both fashion and make the world more beautiful, or who want to send a valuable message into the world, seem to be on a similar wavelength. With corresponding values, passions, insights, yet from other angles. And that is interesting.

For my own brand, but also for my customers. I strongly believe in working from your own energy, making sincere and conscious decisions in the direction you want to take, thereby attracting what you want to broadcast. I especially see opportunities in online, and then really with content. The accounts with poorly written blogs and 100 selfies on popular hotspots should also start working on their message: what is your story? Creative projects, creative visual stories, movies, I think we go deep.

But I also think that ‘RL’ is back on the agenda, people just love events, being seen, discovering things, stimulating the senses. Etc. Where I mainly see opportunities is in tearing away an old, defective fashion system and being able to give it a new form, which not only refers to profit, but also to value and awareness.

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