How to Emergency-Pivot Your Staff During a Pandemic
How Madison Reed quickly shifted its brick-and-mortar workforce to digital
Coronavirus Diaries From the C-Suite is a new Marker series where leaders share how the pandemic is impacting their businesses.
In early March, Amy Errett appeared on the Today Show in the program’s “She Made It” series, discussing Madison Reed, the hair color business she founded in 2013 that had raised more than $130 million in total VC funding. By the end of the month, it was quite a different picture: Errett had shuttered the company’s 12 brick-and-mortar “color bars” and redirected the 100 employees at her San Francisco headquarters to work from home. Meanwhile, orders for the company’s at-home color and styling products jumped by as much as 1,200%, as women across the country lost access to their hairdressers. While the company has escaped some of the financial devastation that has afflicted other startups, Errett, who now leads the company from her home in Sonoma, where she lives with her wife and their 17-year-old daughter, has dealt with supply chain complexities and retraining her workforce on the fly. Errett — who also moonlights as a partner at True Ventures — spoke with Marker about how her company adapted virtually overnight.
In February, it became clear very quickly that Italy was going to be the next region to get hit hard after Wuhan, and our manufacturer is in Lombardy [one of the hardest-hit regions]. We started talking with them daily and ordering a lot more inventory to keep up with any potential outage. Much of the factory is automated, so it’s been able to stay open, but we’re now working with our Italian partners to move part of the manufacturing process here.
We closed our headquarters on March 13, a few days before San Francisco went on lockdown. We were in an open workspace, and it’s a close community; I could tell people were getting nervous. Even though none of our people were sick, we called it early.
We closed down our 12 color bars [in California, Maryland, New York, and Texas] a couple of weeks ago. But our business has seen a significant increase online as hair salons across the country have…