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Business as Unusual – Zola Keller, Las Olas Zola Keller, owner

Business backstory: The popular designer and retailer is renowned for her special occasion gowns, including custom-created wedding dresses and bridal accessories. In addition, her Fort Lauderdale-based boutique features an array of chic cocktail dresses. Next to the main boutique is an outlet store, Zola Keller’s Secret Closet. (zolakeller.com)

The impact: “COVID-19 forced us to furlough 11 employees. Early on, before public health officials realized the severity of this disease or took the step of ordering mandatory nonessential business closures, we implemented emergency business continuity plans out of an abundance of caution. This included keeping our four seamstresses in the store to handle any needs that might come up for customers who were picking up their previously purchased gown.”  

In the interim: “We are already receiving many requests to reschedule missed appointments and new requests for future appointments. Brides will always want that perfect gown, even if the ceremony happens over Zoom. Other customers tell us they are anticipating the celebrations that will take place when the threat of coronavirus passes. People realize it will be tough getting an appointment after we reopen. We are fortunate. Unlike businesses like restaurants, our customers still need that product they were going to purchase while we were closed. Most of the potential sales for that period are pent-up, but they’ll still be there on the other side of the pandemic. Of course, this business pause means many of our customers will have had the [window] to purchase their special-occasion gown substantially shortened, perhaps taking away time we›d need to special-order a garment. So, we are purchasing inventory to expand their options for immediate purchase. Normally, this is not the time of year when we would purchase new inventory.”

The future: “We are looking at several new approaches to help customers manage the uncertainty that arises when something like this happens in the future. One example: We will offer a return policy for our customers’ special orders and in-store inventory purchases if their special event is permanently canceled due to a future disaster like the one we’re in now.”

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.