Welcome to this week’s Feature Friday, where we are highlighting a favorite retailer of ours:` lululemon. Recognized for their manifesto of empowering people to reach their full potential through sweating and mindfulness, lululemon has taken traditional athletic-wear and intertwined culture with community yet again.
lululemon Athletica: “A yoga-inspired, technical athletic apparel company for women and men. What started as a design studio by day and yoga studio by night soon became a standalone store…”
Retailers nationwide closed their brick-and-mortar stores as COVID-19 quickly erupted. While many brands simply shifted to an online focus by offering exclusive discounts and promotions across channels virtually, many others unfortunately had to furlough “nonessential” employees during this unprecedented time. Lululemon, however, pointed their efforts in a different direction.
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company’s CEO, Calvin McDonald shared in this letter that lululemon “extended temporary store closures until it is safe to reopen each location, and will keep store employees on payroll through June 1, whether…stores reopen or remain closed.”
McDonald shared the news after announcing that the lululemon community hub was establishing a Global Relief Pay plan to help employees through the crisis in addition to the $2 million Ambassador Relief Fund to help cover basic operating costs for ambassador-owned sweat studios.
But that’s not all. lululemon implemented enhanced health and safety measures to protect employees who work at their distribution centers. Their leadership also announced that they were taking a 20% pay cut for three months and members of their board of directors pledged to forgo their cash retainers. By doing this, the retailer’s “cost savings will be used to establish the new We Stand Together Fund to aid employees affected by COVID-19 who are facing hardships in their lives.”
After hearing about how lululemon is handling the pandemic, I reached out to a close friend who has worked at lululemon in Boston’s Prudential Center for nearly two years. I asked her a bit about Lulu’s company culture and her thoughts on the brand’s community and company-wide efforts during the COVID-19.
“What it comes down to is lululemon’s leadership. Their leadership’s ability to communicate with their stores across the country is always unparalleled in clarity and positivity. During this, it’s on a whole new level. They’re realistic and honest and always put their employees and customers first.”
Seems about right. Just by browsing through lululemon’s Twitter page, it’s pretty evident that they communicate more than just their sports bra and legging sales on-site; they spread the power of movement, sweating, mindfulness and community.
Though lululemon stores remain closed, a plethora of online sweat classes are available on their website and social media outlets, which are expecting to boost their e-commerce business, but more importantly, provide an avenue of tranquility and ease during such troubling times for shoppers, customers and athletes across the globe. It’s times like this that really showcase why lululemon’s customer loyalty, engagement, community and culture lead in the retail world and beyond.