AURA QUE online shop open as usual - Update during COVID-19 Lockdown

Dear Friends of AURA QUE
I wanted to update you on how we are navigating the COVID-19 lockdown here at AURA QUE. Apologies for the late email on this - as with all of you, we have had to adjust to shorter working hours at home due to school closures and child care, as well as sick leave and having to furlough staff to keep ourselves afloat. We hope everyone is staying safe at home and looking after themselves.
Our online shop is open as usual, with myself and Eleanor working remotely. The warehouse is operating with minimal staff, with increased infection control measures and with contactless collections from Royal Mail and couriers. We are very thankful to all these keyworkers who are doing an amazing job.

Thank you for your patience with dispatch and delivery times, which may take a day or two longer under these circumstances.
Your orders are so very much appreciated, to help us keep our small business afloat at this difficult time. At AURA QUE, we are facing 80% of our income from wholesale orders disappearing for now, so every order through our online shop helps us to be able to honour our winter orders with our producers in Nepal.
We are offering a 10% discount on all retail orders until the end of April for all our loyal customers with code STAYHOME10 to be used at the checkout.

We have received some comments via social media about this being an inappropriate time to promote or advertise handicrafts such as ours. On the contrary, it is more important than ever to keep our sales going in order to support our producers in Nepal over the next year. We most definitely do not want to cancel any winter orders with our artisans, many of whom are already from vulnerable groups, so the consequences of lost income are particularly worrying. We are doing everything we possibly can to generate the income to be able to pay for these goods and therefore provide economic security for our producers in these difficult circumstances.
Our producers in Nepal have will be in lockdown until at least the end of April, therefore most workshops are effectively closed. Working remotely in Nepal is very difficult as they do not have the equipment and technology to do so. We are liaising with our producers regularly to check they are ok and planning our orders for the coming months to help sustain the individuals who work with us.  
It is unlikely that the Nepali government will give any financial help to businesses and charities in Nepal so it is a worrying time for all our producer groups and their communities. We will be keeping in touch over the coming months and seeing how we can help any individuals in need as the situation develops.  Luckily there is no recorded outbreak in Nepal at this time, their lockdown is precautionary with only 9 COVID-19 cases recorded.
Our wonderful stockists have had a tough few months, having to try creative ways online and locally to keep their businesses going.  We are trying to support all our independent stockists as much as we can in the next few months.
Please support small businesses wherever you can, it’s going to be a tough year for everyone, including those who run small businesses and independent shops.
We have had to furlough Lucy from within our team, who has been doing a great job managing our wholesale orders and social media. She was off for several weeks in March with the virus, in self isolation with her family and is luckily now on the mend.
It is incredible what our brave keyworkers are undertaking, and it’s great to see communities pulling together with small acts of kindness between neighbours and friends. We hope this community spirit carries on in the future and we can all look out for each other a bit more.
With many people spending more time at home, including our core staff here at AURA QUE, we will try our best to stay connected with inspiring content on our social media and in our newsletters. Stay safe and thank you for supporting small business and fair trade at this difficult time.
Kind Regards
Laura Queening,

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