Harvard Square Store Owner Shifts from Fashion to Face Masks: Local Community Supports Mompreneur’s Pivot Thru Lockdown
During a time of great global tragedy and upheaval, there is a lot of “new” in our lives. There are new challenges, new approaches and new initiatives in the “new normal.” In that spirit, Esmeralda Lambert of Esmeralda, jewelry and accessories store of Cambridge, Mass., decided to tell her story of how she pivoted her business model in the time of the new coronavirus pandemic.
During the time when Lambert’s business would normally be booming with customers buying Mother’s Day and graduation gifts, the pandemic has brought small businesses like the Esmeralda store to a halt.
Lambert’s shop on Church Street in Cambridge, which opened in 2015, features a curated collection of fashion and home accessories sourced from small, family- or woman-owned businesses.
Esmeralda’s doors were closed soon after major colleges and universities began sending students home. A week later, Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker issued the order for non-essential businesses to cease in-person business on March 24, 2020.
“Not many people are interested in buying jewelry when they’re home in their pajamas on conference calls,” said Lambert. “I went from working full-time with childcare for our 14-month-old daughter, to being unemployed and a full-time mom, as everything around us shut down.”
However, the crisis hit close to home with the devastating death of Lambert’s uncle from COVID-19. Lambert was unable to travel to her home country of the Dominican Republic to grieve with her family. Her godfather’s passing was a turning point and she decided to focus on bridging the gap in responsibly sourcing US made reusable masks for families.
“Based on CDC and NIH guidelines, cloth masks are recommended for civilian use, leaving the supply of medical and N95 masks for frontline workers,” Lambert states. “But unless you sew your own, it’s not easy to find high quality comfortable masks that fit well and are machine washable.”
Lambert tapped into her wholesale networks and found a small, woman-owned apparel manufacturer in Los Angeles, who had recently made masks for the Boston Hanscom Air Force Base. In addition to servicing individual consumers, Lambert is able to offer custom masks in bulk, with brand colors and logos, for business and organizations to provide to their employees.
“This hit all the points for me: quality, large batches, customizable options, competitive pricing, all while maintaining my mission of supporting small businesses,” said Lambert.
Massachusetts Governor Baker signed an order on Friday, May 1, 2020, requiring people to wear face coverings in public places when they cannot socially distance. This order included the employees of businesses that are open to the public.
Through Lambert’s business at EsmeraldaStore.com, consumers can purchase masks ranging in size from toddler (2+ years) to kids and adults. She also curated social distancing care packages with masks and complementary essentials from small US makers including hand sanitizer, lotions (to repair hands from excessive washing) and relaxation candles.
Cambridge Savings Bank recently purchased enough masks for all of their employees. “Caring for the health and safety of our employees is very much core to the culture at CSB, as is supporting our local and women-owned businesses,” said Lisa Rodericks, CMO at Cambridge Savings Bank.
“We are all in this together,” said Lambert. “At the end of the day, we are trying to safely work our way back to a new normal and repair our communities around the globe. Stay safe, practice social distancing, and support your local small businesses that make your community the place you love.”
For high resolution images of Esmeralda store and masks go to: https://bit.ly/2SDcgbK
About Esmeralda store:
Esmeralda is a small, brick-and-mortar retail store in Cambridge, Mass., owned by Esmeralda Lambert. Opened in 2015, the store offers a curated diverse selection of local and international hand-crafted jewelry, accessories and gifts, representing 17 countries, 12 U.S. states and local Massachusetts makers to empower artisans and small family businesses. The store has twice been named Boston’s Best Accessories by Boston’s A-List.