(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). Over a year ago, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, home to Va Bien, an important shapewear and intimates firm, that happens to be based on the island. Creative Director Gregory Gimble, son of the founders Marianne and Richard Gimble, described the situation in this message to BODY.
GREGORY GIMBLE: Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico last September, cutting off power and running water, and limiting access to basic goods and services for months. Va Bien, which has been operating on the island for many years, faced an unprecedented challenge. Although the company experienced Hurricane George in 1998, its impact was nothing close to Maria. Thankfully, and most importantly to the company, all of its employees and their families weathered Maria safely, but looking back, one year later now, operating in the aftermath was a remarkable accomplishment and a wonderful display of teamwork.
From gas rationing and bottlenecked ports that caused severe fuel shortages, to lacking internet connectivity that shuttered banks, it was a challenging operating environment to say the least. Weekly negotiations with diesel brokers to keep backup power running, months of cash-only payrolls, and watchful supervision of repair contractors kept the wheels turning, but it was the bond between management and the company’s employees that allowed Va Bien to resume shipping so quickly after the storm. Employees queued up for several hours to gas up their car to get to work, spent nearly as much time waiting in line at grocery stores and other retail locations, and made provisions for their children as all schools were closed for months - all to arrive to work on time and keep the business running.
It had been nearly 100 years since a storm of Maria’s strength hit Puerto Rico, and hopefully it will be another century until the next one, but the camaraderie on display at Va Bien offered some beauty within the adversity - that alongside the outpouring of support from Va Bien’s customers and suppliers, which the team was deeply moved by and thankful for. These relationships mean everything to the Va Bien team and serve as a core motivation every single day.
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