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Nanette Lepore Headshot

Laying People Off -- Tearfully

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The worst has happened, the moment I dreaded. I have had to succumb to the hellacious economy and cut my staff. It's an awful, sinking feeling. I haven't felt this insecure about the future since I started my company almost 20 years ago. Will we ever ride that wave again?

The wave that enabled me to grow my business at a rate of 20 percent a
year to numbers I never even imagined possible. Was it all a false boom? Why wasn't I suspicious of all this sudden wealth? Why did I think it was normal to buy as many designer shoes as I wanted or dinners out for insanely large groups. Every day I ponder what would have happened if I had sold my company during the boom. The opportunity was there, but I chose to prolong the negotiations with the main concern being my staff. I was worried for my employees, and that the culture of my company would be changed forever. But now I'm having to be the one to disappoint and shatter dreams.

It was the newest and most enthusiastic members of my staff that took the hit, most never even given a chance to prove their worth. There were tears and panic and I'm sure a very large sense of insecurity. A few will move back home to the Midwest and the south and live with their parents in states that don't offer up many jobs in fashion. How could they possibly survive in one of the most expensive cities in the world? A city they came to hoping to fulfill their dreams.

Why did it come to this? Where were our leaders? Why weren't enough people questioning this falsely inflated boom? Why did we all decide luxury was an entitlement? It would be comforting to believe that the cuts we have activated will help the company grow stronger. But what of our youth that we have disappointed? We are turning them away, stripping them of opportunities to learn and grow. In this time of needing to be ingenious and creative to survive, the lessons learned could last a lifetime. What lessons will they learn? Will it be just a bitter reminder? Will they be brave enough to venture back to NYC when and if it all blows over? Or will they end up stocking shelves at the local mall? I know this attrition was necessary; I know things had gotten out of control on all levels, but when I have to callously close the door on bright devoted members of my staff it hurts. I just want it to end and I hope our new government can lead us out of it.