Lisa Bridge, who took over from her father as CEO of Ben Bridge in 2018, should have been recuperating and celebrating the birth of her first child, Rose, on March 15.
Instead, she was forced to make the call to close the entire network of 83 store on the West Coast.
“It has been an extraordinary experience,” Ms Bridge tells WatchPro in The Big Interview for our September edition.
“The added complexity for me was that, at the start of all this, I had my first child. On March 15, Rose joined us and it was from my hospital bed in between seeing a pediatrician and a hearing specialist that I had to make the decision to close all of our stores. So that was not quite the smooth entry into motherhood that I had anticipated,” she reveals.
Ms Bridge is full of praise for the way her team reacted and supported the business at such a critical moment.
“I am forever thankful to my team for stepping up in a huge way at that time. It was a challenging moment to navigate, and we are lucky that we have such wonderful people,” she says.
With stores in 10 US states, Ms Bridge has had to grapple with stores closing, reopening and closing again, and not just because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It continues to be an adventure with the political climate, the rioting and looting, the situation in California with stores within indoor malls having to close again,” Ms Bridge describes.
The team has found a new strength and adaptability throughout the crisis. When California cranked up its restrictions again, for example, they reacted with confidence and pragmatism.
“We said to each other, “OK, we can figure this out,” and everybody was willing to get their heads down to find a way to continue to operate and care for our customers. We are definitely more resilient and creative than we were six months ago, and that will put us in good stead moving forwards,” Ms Bridge suggests.