Conan Gray’s ‘Kid Krow’ Receives Praise From Taylor Swift

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably been playing Conan Gray‘s “Wish You Were Sober” on repeat. The track is from the 21-year-old singer-songwriter’s debut album Kid Krow, which came out last Friday (April 3). And despite the album only being out for a few days, it’s already received a ton of praise — even from Taylor Swift.

“[Swift] just recently, literally four days ago, put my song ‘Wish You Were Sober’ on her Instagram Story,” Gray told Zane Lowe during an interview for Apple Music today (April 7). “I literally lost my mind. She DM’d me afterwards. She was so, so sweet. She told me that my album was perfect, which I was like, ‘Taylor, that’s all you need to say. I can die now.'”

Only Swifties can truly understand the excitement one feels when the pop star personally reaches out online, and now Gray has experienced that magic for himself. “She never said anything to me,” he said. “It just happened. I logged into my phone, and it was just everywhere. I was freaked. I hadn’t reached out to her at all. She just popped in and just said, ‘Hi,’ and told me that my album was great.”

Naturally, the “Maniac” singer immediately put his fingers to work, responding to Swift with a lengthy message that he hoped would help her understand a sliver of his admiration for her and her music. “I weirdly, I wrote a paragraph so fucking fast,” he said. “I wrote it so fast because there’s so many things that I’d wanted to say to Taylor Swift my whole entire life. She raised me.”

“She’s just incredible,” Gray continued before adding that he really didn’t know the right thing to say to the “Lover” songstress when she congratulated him on Kid Krow. “What do you even say to Taylor Swift after she just tells you that your album is good?” he said. “I don’t know. You just say, ‘Thanks. You’re literally perfect.'”

Swift’s words, of course, meant so much to Gray, who said that the first YouTube video he ever watched was one of the pop icon’s music videos. “She’s my number one,” Gray said, solidifying his stance as a staunch Swiftie. “She’s my number one above all.”

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Aggressive restrictions notably slow coronavirus in California tech hub By Reuters

© Reuters. Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in San Francisco

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – California’s Santa Clara County, the technology hub hit hard by some of the first American cases of the coronavirus, dramatically slowed the illness with early and aggressive shelter-at-home rules, public health officer Sara Cody said on Tuesday.

The county of about 2 million people, located south of San Francisco, was initially on track to develop an estimated 50,000 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus ravaging communities across the globe, by May 1. It now may have just 2,500 to 12,000, Cody told a meeting of the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.

The number of cases has gone from doubling every three days in early March, to now doubling approximately every two weeks, she said.

“The trend is exactly what we want to see,” Cody said. “We are slowing things down.”

Pushed by Cody, six San Francisco Bay Area counties on March 16 ordered residents to stay home for all but essential needs. Three days later, California Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a similar order statewide.

Those actions, the most restrictive clamp-down up to that point in the United States, helped slow the virus’ progress in the most populous U.S. state, giving hospitals and medical teams time to prepare for an expected onslaught of sick patients needing hospital beds, intensive care and ventilators to help them breathe.


The few extra days that residents of Santa Clara — which is home to the headquarters of Apple (NASDAQ:), Google (NASDAQ:) and Facebook (NASDAQ:), among others — and the other San Francisco Bay Area counties had to shelter in place may help explain why the virus’ onslaught in the heavily populated region appears to have slowed earlier than in hard-hit Los Angeles County in Southern (NYSE:) California.

By Tuesday morning, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the four other Bay Area counties reported 3,532 cases of COVID-19 in a population of about 6.7 million, or about one in every 1,900 people. In Los Angeles County, with a population of about 10 million, 6,391 people have tested positive for the disease, about one in every 1,600 people.

The disease has progressed more slowly in California than in New York state, where 140,086 infections have been confirmed even as the steep rise in cases appeared to plateau on Tuesday.

In California, 15,865 people had tested positive for COVID-19 by Tuesday morning, a 10.7% increase over the previous day. But the number of people who were hospitalized increased just 4.1% from the prior day to 2,611, and the number in intensive care increased just 2.1% to 1,108.

“The curve continues to rise but now it is slower,” Newsom said.

Cody said it would take more than an apparent slowing of cases to persuade public health officials it was time to ease social restrictions.

Before that can happen, hospitals across the county would need to have enough beds and ventilators for all patients. Testing and public health tracking needs to be broadly available. And the number of new cases has to decline steadily over a period of at least two weeks, she said.

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Amber Portwood’s Argument With Andrew Leaks

Dealing with a leak. As Amber Portwood attempted to move on from her domestic violence incident with ex Andrew Glennon, the audio from their past fights leaked on the Tuesday, April 7, episode of Teen Mom OG

After the shocking assault audio made its way to the internet, Amber wasn’t sure how to proceed — according to her, the recording was from a time she was struggling with her postpartum depression. Her costars weren’t sure how to help, either, and Amber didn’t want to see her daughter, Leah, while she was in such a dark place, so she enlisted the help of Leah’s father, Gary Shirley.

“I’m remorseful for what I did, because I don’t want to be that person and I never did,” Amber said, insisting that she already had the help she needed in her psychiatrist. But Gary kept pressing, encouraging her to go to anger management classes for the sake of Leah and James, her son with Andrew.

Amber was totally against the idea, but later that day, she and Gary went to her first appointment. But things went downhill fast because Amber ended up leaving her appointment in an ambulance after she fainted in the parking lot.

After hearing about Amber’s breakdown, Catelynn Lowell was reminded of times her mom had lashed out at her boyfriends growing up and decided to talk to her psychiatrist about it. 

Teen Mom OG Recap Maci Considers Inviting Ryan Bentley Birthday
Ryan Edwards and Maci Bookout MTV (2)

“It took me back to when my mom would get in fights with her boyfriends and stuff,” Catelynn admitted. “I was older but I would always get in the middle of it to stop it or things like that, so it brought up a lot of sadness for James. I’m trying to be there for her and stuff, but it’s hard to navigate.”

Meanwhile, Maci Bookout dealt with drama as she tried to convince Mackenzie Standifer and Ryan Edwards to come to Bentley’s birthday party, Mackenzie McKee was sent on a birthday scavenger hunt where Josh proposed to her all over again, and Cheyenne Floyd worked on creating her own clothing line. 

Teen Mom OG airs on MTV Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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Breaking New

New York coronavirus: Nearly 20% of the NYPD’s uniformed workforce is out sick

NYPD Auxiliary Police Officer Ramon Roman died on Sunday from coronavirus-related complications, according to a daily coronavirus report from the NYPD.

Nearly 20% of its uniformed workforce is out sick.

The city is a hotspot for the virus, with more than 68,000 cases and 2,700 fatalities. The city’s hospitals have been struggling to maintain the space, personnel and equipment to treat the growing number of patients.

On Monday, 6,974 uniformed members of the NYPD were out sick, accounting for 19.3% of the Department’s uniformed workforce, according to the report. That number has jumped from 12% on March 28.

Currently, 1,935 uniformed members and 293 civilian members tested positive for the coronavirus, the NYPD said.

These states have implemented stay-at-home orders. Here's what that means for you
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea previously said that while they were not close to implementing 12-hour shifts, they would do so if necessary.

Some recovered officers returned to work Friday, a law enforcement source told CNN, which delays the necessity to implement 12-hour shifts on the department.

“Now we’re getting the first wave back,” said the official. “By next week, we could be getting hundreds back.”

The NYPD said it is cracking down on social and religious gatherings.

Over the weekend, police used sirens and played social distancing messages over their PA system in Borough Park to break up a large gathering for a funeral in the Hasidic Jewish community that did not follow social distancing guidelines, according to CNN affiliate WPIX.

In a 24-hour period, officers visited 2,419 supermarkets, 6,959 bars and restaurants, 1,238 public places and 3,288 personal care facilities.

Nobody was arrested or issued summonses in relation to the visits, the NYPD said.

CNN’s Laura Ly and Mark Morales contributed to this report.

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‘The New Us’: Will Mackenzie And Josh’s Fresh Start Last On Teen Mom OG?

Mackenzie went from declaring, “I hate that I married him” and filing for divorce from Josh to once again being engaged to her longtime sweetheart.

During tonight’s Teen Mom OG episode, Josh — who confessed that he was “inappropriate with things” while out of town at a bar — surprised his longtime love with a bunch of special birthday surprises in the form of a scavenger hunt.

At the end of the “journey” — which included notes along with cupcakes, a bible, lunch and a massage — was a message telling Mack to throw her first ring “as far as you can in the water.” The catch: This was at the location of where he proposed several years back.

Even though Mackenzie’s producer Kristen told her not to do it “if it’s a real diamond,” the mother of three did as her beau instructed her to do because she was “starting fresh.”

From there, she followed rose petals to Josh, who was standing with a single red rose.

“I love you,” he sweetly told her as they embraced.

He then got on bended knee with a brand-new ring and stated, “I want this to be the new us. Start fresh, start new. Will you marry me?”

Mack accepted with a sweet “mhhmmm,” and they shared a heartwarming embrace.

But will the duo’s union last — and will they make it down the aisle a second time? Tell us your thoughts, then catch another Teen Mom OG Tuesday at 8/7c.

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How Coronavirus Affected Wisconsin’s Presidential Primary Election

Voters in Wisconsin cast their ballots for the presidential primary on Tuesday (April 7) — but not without having to navigate a prohibitive combination of hours-long lines, drastically reduced numbers of polling places, and a need for masks and other protective gear to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. In short, this is what in-person voting looks like during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Election day almost didn’t happen at all, up until the very last minute: On Monday (April 6), the state’s governor, Tony Evers, used the powers of executive order to suspend in-person voting, but that call was later overruled by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Federal Supreme Court also shot down an effort to extend absentee ballot options for voters who might be rightfully fearful of showing up to the polls in the middle of a pandemic — now, any mail-in ballots in the state must be postmarked by April 7 in order to be counted. (Democrats had petitioned to extend the deadline so that ballots would have to be received by April 13, but Republicans asked for the more stringent timeline.)

Plenty of officials voiced their dismay at the decision to carry on with the primary election as normal, especially given that photos and videos of lines and personal precautions showed a reality that was anything but. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said he was “appalled that the U.S. and Wisconsin Supreme Courts refused to allow any modification in the interest of public health and democracy alike,” while Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor, Mandela Barnes, called the entire production a “shit show.”

Even so, hundreds of Wisconsinites showed up to perform their civic duty, and they did so while attempting to maintain the CDC’s recommended 6 to 10 feet apart from one another in the hours-long lines. Because of the state-mandated stay-at-home order, many polling places couldn’t open at all; per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Governor Evers called in the National Guard to staff some locations. Even so, there were 5 polling places open to the city of almost 600,000 people — typically, 180 polling places are available to Milwaukee’s residents.

The New York Times noted that there were fewer lines in other cities, which is alarming on several levels. Almost two-thirds of the state’s Black residents live in Milwaukee county, and the median age for the Black community is relatively young: 28 to the state’s average 38.

“Our kids are voting in Milwaukee and they’re definitely waiting longer than we did,” Bruce Campbell, a resident of nearby Brookfield, told the Times. “You can feel the blue county, red county dynamics. It’s difficult to watch.”

Per Vox, 1.2 million people in the state had requested absentee ballots this year, which is almost five times as many as the state usually handles in primary elections, and roughly one-fifth of the total population.

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Breaking New

Mayors take lead in states where governors fight stringent stay-at-home orders

After Gov. Henry McMaster defended his decision to abstain from taking the statewide step, Benjamin — along with the city’s council — implemented a city-wide stay at home order in late March, telling CNN at the time that while he would “relish a statewide action by the governor,” the “lack aggressive action” by McMaster made it clear that the city had to “step up.”

McMaster, days after defending South Carolina as a “unique” place where a stay-at-home order is not needed, ended up issuing a statewide order on Monday that required South Carolinians to stay home unless they are working, visiting family, getting exercise or shopping for needed goods.

“This is a stay-at-home order. You call it what you like,” he said when pressed by a reporter.

A total of seven states — all led by Republicans — have resisted calls to issue strict stay-at-home orders, with most arguing that more rural, sparsely populated states do not need stringent orders comparable to those being implemented in New York and California. Some Republican governors, like those in Texas, Georgia and Florida, fought off persistent calls for days before they issued statewide orders.

The dynamics in these states — with city and county officials from Utah to Mississippi to South Carolina taking more aggressive steps earlier — has highlighted a gaping divide that splits largely play out along party lines: At the state level, Republicans control the executive office, while metro areas are run by Democrats

Some mayors, like Benjamin, have been blamed politics for the hesitance, accusing the statewide leaders of not wanting to go beyond their Republican standard bearer, President Donald Trump, who has worried about the impact sweeping orders could have on businesses.

McMaster is being “deferential to the president,” Benjamin told CNN before the governor issued the order, causing the mayor to be “at a loss as to why any public official would not do everything in their power to try and save those lives. The governor should be doing more.”

Benjamin, after McMaster’s order on Monday, said people are “still unsure as to why it took him so long to act when the data has been crystal clear and dozens of South Carolinians have now been lost.”

“But we welcome the governor to the fight,” Benjamin said. “We’ve been waiting on him.”

From Utah to Mississippi

McMaster is far from alone in resisting calls from local leaders.

Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has fought off calls for a statewide order, despite leaders from Salt Lake County, the state’s largest, explicitly calling on the governor to make the move.

“Every county in the state relies on metropolitan hospitals for critical care needs,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, a Democrat. “A statewide order is necessary to slow the spread everywhere, so we don’t overwhelm our hospitals.”

Mendenhall highlighted nationwide concerns that hospitals across the country could be overrun, especially in rural areas where hospital capacity is lower.

While McMaster and Herbert are still holding out on statewide orders, other Republican governors, like Greg Abbott in Texas, Brian Kemp in Georgia and Tate Reeves in Mississippi, spent days fighting off a statewide order before they shifted.

The most notable was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who spent weeks fighting off calls for more sweeping action in the face of spring breakers partying on the state’s beaches and some of the largest cities in the state pleading for more statewide action. He only decided to move when Trump, whom the governor is close with, struck a more somber tone during a press conference on March 31.

“It is a very serious situation,” DeSantis said of the virus the next day. “When you see the President up there and his demeanor the last couple of days, that’s not necessarily how he always is.”

The conflict has most notably played out in states where the urban-rural divide is starker.

Chokwe Lumumba, the Democratic mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, ordered sweeping closures in his city of 166,000 last week, at the same time that Reeves was actively dismissing calls for a statewide order.

“What’s best for Oxford and what’s best for Tishomingo aren’t exactly the same,” Reeves said in an interview with Mississippi Today in late March, naming a college town of 23,000 and a tiny town of under 400 in Northern Mississippi. He added that he believes some of the pushback against his orders were politically driven even as he allows cities to go beyond his measures.

But days after that interview, Reeves shifted his position and issued a statewide order, saying that this “is a somber time, for our country and our state” and that his health experts finally advised him it was time for a shelter in place.

“They told me we are now at the point in Mississippi’s cycle where such drastic restrictions are required,” he said in a statement.

Lumumba, however, sees politics, lamenting that many Republican “politicians nationwide have staked their political futures on being in line with” the President.

“We are in a highly politically charged environment and we were prior to the virus spreading as it has globally,” Lumumba told CNN in an interview. “And I think that some individuals have found it difficult to break from that partisan rhetoric and really recognize that this virus cares very little for your political ideology.”

But the divides between governor and mayors have gone beyond partisan lines

In Oklahoma, for example, the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City, David Holt, issued a citywide stay at home order in mid-March, weeks before the state’s Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, issued a statewide order on April 2.

Stitt’s order has been confusing, with some reading it as a fully enforced stay at home order and others seeing it as a more lenient measure, in part because the governor has avoided calling it a stay at home order and instead uses the term “safer at home.”

Holt said Stitt “clearly avoided” some of the more direct terminology that other states have used to describe their orders, like “shelter in place,” which is what the mayor has been calling his own order.

“One thing I have learned from this is no one reads the proclamations,” Holt said in an interview. “You can labor over the legal language, but what matters more is what you say, the messaging.”

He added: “We have found in Oklahoma City that the shelter in place language is more powerful and more effective. … There are 10 people who have read my proclamation and they are me and my staff.”

‘The cities that have taken the lead here’

Arguably the clearest example of the state vs. local divide is in Texas, where a majority of the state’s residents were under stay at home orders from their cities and counties long before Abbott took action.

Abbott had long taken a more measured approach to fighting the virus and avoided rhetoric like that of Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who suggested older Americans would be willing to die of coronavirus as a way to keep the economy moving. But eventually the governor, after dismissing calls for more action, issued a statewide order on March 31.

Even still, Abbott’s slower response — especially in a state with major metropolitan areas — led to conflict with some Texas mayors.

“The governor took the position that the cities and counties are all different and he didn’t want to issue something” overly broad, Austin Mayor Steve Adler told CNN before Abbott’s statewide order. “It really has been the cities that have taken the lead here.”

Adler, along with Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, issued a stay-at-home order on March 24.

Before Abbott issued his order, city and county leaders Texas, including in Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso, all issued versions of the orders for residents of their areas.

Adler, like others, blames the political positioning as the reason Republican state leaders have been resistant to issue broad statewide orders.

“Too many times we see the President’s tenor and own political priorities being reflected in our state leadership and other states,” Adler concluded. “The President’s politics have a significant impact and influence on what we see happening at state levels.”

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Oliver Tree Takes Us For One Last Pinked-Out Ride In Wild ‘Let Me Down’ Video

It’s a sad, sad day when Oliver Tree, one of pop’s wildest new faces, claims that his new song, “Let Me Down,” is his last one ever. But it comes with an off the wall video that you can’t help but smile at, depicting a behind-the-scenes shoot for perhaps the worst music video of all time. Tree’s charm is the star here and lets us know that, if he’s serious about leaving, he will be sorely missed.

Tree rides into a pink room on a scooter for his video shoot and kicks things off by eating a sandwich loudly in to a nearby microphone. After tossing it out of view, he sings the roaring song rather plainly into a swinging microphone. If “bored” had a Tinder profile picture, it’d be a snapshot from this video.

Of course, with Tree, things are never this simple. He begins singing into his own microphone that he pulls out of his pocket, and then he has someone wearing a skin-tight pink bodysuit bring him an adorable baby doll. Tree punts it like a football and then causes a massive storm on set, hijacking a pink umbrella to protect him from the rain. Inexplicably, he turns around and jumps onto the floor and lays there without moving. As the camera zooms out, we see a crew of pink bodysuit-wearing video directors ending the shoot.

Last month, Tree announced that due to the global coronavirus pandemic, he wouldn’t be releasing his debut studio album, Ugly is Beautiful, “anytime in the foreseeable future.” After suggesting that it could come out in another five to 10 years, he also said that all of his remaining shows have been canceled and refunded and that he has officially retired.

“Thank you for being a part of this epic journey, this year of my life was, by far, the most challenging but also the most rewarding,” he wrote. “I’m not good at goodbyes but please know that I love you all!”

Take a look at Tree’s final(?) video for “Let Me Down” up above.

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Fashion & Style

Judy Zhang on Managing a Start-Up during the Coronavirus Outbreak

I first heard about the novel coronavirus on January 19 in my home in Shenzhen. Just the day before, my office had closed for the Chinese New Year break. At the time, the situation didn’t seem very serious, and like many, I was preparing for my holiday travels. On January 23, I traveled from China to Milan with no issues. However, when I arrived in Milan, I learned that on the same day, Wuhan had been put on lockdown.

With the increase in travel over the holidays, things took a quick and nasty turn in China—and then the world. Soon, travel bans became ubiquitous, and these would prove to be challenging in running my business. As the CEO and founder of designer ready-to-wear brand Judy Zhang and a fashion production company, I split my time between Shenzhen, Milan, and New York.

When I launched my own label in 2019, I was determined to base my brand out of the three cities that inspire me most. I am attracted to New York’s diversity and how the city presents opportunities for people of different walks of life to thrive. Milan, on the other hand, is rich with culture and art, and is known for its delicacy in craftsmanship. Lastly, Shenzhen—which, in comparison to New York and Milan, is a young city—is a breeding ground for creativity and miracles. The interactions I have in these cities broaden and enrich my perspective, and they inspire me to push myself to bring out my own individuality in designing something more global.



Initial design always begins in Milan, and I will often fly there first. It is where I source inspiration and raw material, and confirm initial design sketches. I spent the good part of February in Milan doing just that. On February 27, I flew to Paris for market appointments. In the meantime, back in Shenzhen, what was supposed to be a well-deserved, celebratory two-week respite for my team quickly became a nightmare. I immediately advised my employees, regardless of whether they traveled within China or not, to stay home and not return to work until it was safe to do so. We made sure that all employees were paid during this time.

On March 1, we slowly began to return to work, albeit from home at first. Employees who had traveled back from lower-risk areas were asked to self-quarantine for seven days, while employees who returned from higher-risk areas were asked to self-quarantine for 14. Per the law, all employees took and passed the nucleic acid test and provided their health QR Codes—this is the government electronic health data on an individual—before they were allowed to work. Lastly, all employees were advised to practice social distancing, and work areas were constantly sanitized. Every employee is given six masks, and every day they have their temperatures taken, and their shoes and arms sprayed with alcohol before entering the office. They are also required to wear masks at all times for the safety of each other. By April 1, most of my employees in China had returned to work. My team in Milan and New York are currently working from home. The impact will only be fully known by the end of this epidemic.

They put a surveillance camera on my door to supervise me.

My plan was to return from Paris to Milan on March 5 and fly back to China on March 8. However, things had escalated in Milan a few days before market appointments ended, and it became clear to me that I would have to adjust my travel. Italy had canceled flights to and from China, and many flights to China from elsewhere had already been canceled. With so many cities on lockdown, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to return home.

I was able to leave Paris for Shenzhen on March 6. I was immediately quarantined—especially since I had been in Milan within 14 days of arrival. I was traveling alone at the time and was allowed by the government to quarantine in my own apartment after signing a contract. They put a surveillance camera on my door to supervise me. I had my temperature taken by government-assigned health officials who came to my door every day at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to take my temperature and ensure I was not showing any symptoms. Community managers came by to deliver food and other necessities, as well as fruits as a gift.

This time of isolation and self-reflection had led me to find new ways to develop business strategies. I spent my time in isolation gathering inspiration for my spring 2021 collection and having virtual meetings with my teams and calls with clients. I also made sure to stay in touch with my friends and family. To strengthen my immune system, I practiced yoga and cooked healthy meals daily. I also deep-cleaned my apartment, which I don’t always have time to do. On the 15th day, I had my last checkup, and I signed another agreement. At my final checkup, the health officials sang me a celebratory song. After all, I had completed the government-mandated quarantine, as well as my spring 2021 collection designs and strategy.



Overall, things are much more calm in China now. Many returned to work starting on February 20, and by March 1, most businesses were back in action. However, given the global nature of the pandemic, many companies are still affected, as we are unable to export goods. As for the illness itself, right now, there are few new domestic cases in China, as the government has been very strictly controlling the outbreak. Anyone who enters through airports is forced to quarantine for 14 days to ensure safety.

In these trying times, I am grateful for my team. Having an exceptional team enables me to manage them from afar. Design begins in Milan; Shenzhen manages the manufacturing process, where I oversee the team to ensure quality; and New York, our headquarters, is where sales are managed. Because the virus is contained in China, in Shenzhen, we are back at work and able to go right back into motion.

My team in Milan is greatly affected by the virus, and other than online, there is no way to conduct business. The city seems to be at the peak of the epidemic curve, and I’ve been told that we may not return to work until June, when the spring market season is mostly over. I assume that the manufacturing for our fall season might also be affected, and I must plan our dates accordingly. To mitigate the loss of our in-person meetings, we have been advised to shoot a video to introduce the newest collection to our Milanese clients who are not able to review the collections in person.

The pandemic will sadly wipe out many businesses, but hopefully will create space for other business.

New York’s epidemic has just begun, and I am still trying to grasp a timeline for it. We have an exceptional sales team that typically travels around the country to understand the market and the needs of clients. Obviously, this has been impacted by the pandemic, so we have shifted gears. We began working with different sales teams and clients on selling collections on their online platforms to introduce new merchandise. We have been pushing our own e-commerce platform intensely and are fortunate to move our physical sales to online. I’m sure this shift will continue to be fruitful for our business.

The effects of COVID-19 will change how the global fashion industry conducts business. I believe the change will be a greater shift from physical to online, not only in retail, but on every level. I think businesses will allow for more flexibility to work from home with productive, problem-solving online meetings. The pandemic will sadly wipe out many businesses, but hopefully it will create space for other businesses to innovate. To alleviate the financial pressures, I plan to maintain strict control on merchandise quantity and control unnecessary spending. Having our own factory gives us better control over the quantity and quality of goods, and the flexibility with time to produce them. We are ready to develop and produce with very little lead time. We are also ready to expand our sales into different markets, either physically or virtually. I am also going to continue to nurture a strong and talented team. I am looking for quality employees over quantity. I believe the business will be affected in the coming years, and I will need to make sure my teams are well-balanced.



Managing an independent fashion business is a dream that I’ve worked so hard to make come true—and the pandemic will not change that. I’ve built my team around the ideas of cooperation to reach goals together, and empower employees to find their own managing and problem-solving methods to reach our collective goals. I like having young talent at the company—they make me feel younger with their freshness and new ideas. They are often the ones who make me feel more creative and willing to take chances, even if I fail.

At the end of the day, I am grateful for everything that I do have. I have my health. My parents and siblings are all quarantined at home and are also healthy. My daughters, who flew back from Los Angeles to China on March 26, are currently quarantined but are doing well. I look forward to reuniting with them after their 14 days. Even a pandemic will come to an end.



Everything is always in constant motion, and we will stand our ground in the face of turbulent change. I have 168 phenomenal colleagues across production, sales, and design teams who are also family to me. As long as we have our goals and a team, we will always find our way back to the right path and achieve our dreams.

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‘Learn Korean With BTS’ Helps Curious K-pop Fans Find Connection

When Laura Krupp started learning the Korean alphabet, or Hangul, she’d practice memorizing the characters by doodling the names of her favorite K-pop idols in the margins of her notebook. “정국,” she’d scribble on the page, burning the distinct vowels and consonants of BTS member Jung Kook’s name into memory. Amid a busy college semester, it took the geology major a month to master all 24 letters. “I probably could have learned it in a week if I had had more time,” she tells MTV News over a video call from her bedroom in Michigan.

Three years later, the 21-year-old can read Korean phonetically and knows the basics: how to introduce herself; how to count to 10; and how to read and pronounce the go-to Instagram hashtag of her ultimate bias, as favored idols are known in the K-pop fandom, Lee Know. (The hashtag “#리노는기여어,” which roughly translates to “#LeeKnowIsCute,” connects her to thousands of posts from fans around the world who use it too.) She admits that the process has been slow. Juggling a full course load with teaching herself Korean grammar hasn’t been easy, but she revels in the small victories. “I’ve left a couple of comments in Korean on Lee Know’s Instagram posts,” she says, his poster one of many crowding the bedroom wall behind her. And when she met Stray Kids earlier this year at a fan engagement on their District 9: Unlock tour, she was able to tell youngest member I.N, “행복하세요,” or, “I wish you happiness.”

“I was going to tell Seungmin that I liked his voice [in Korean], but he smiled at me and my brain short-circuited,” she says. “So I didn’t get to say that.”

While understanding Korean isn’t a requirement to take part in K-pop standom, it can enrich the experience. In K-pop, content is king. A group can produce hundreds of hours of interviews, livestreams, performances, digital programming, and more during a single promotional cycle. Depending on the company’s internal resources, as well as the size of the unit’s global following, subtitles and translations can take days to weeks to months to be added, if at all.

And international fans know just how agonizing waiting for subtitles can be. 20-year-old fan Nico, from Ohio, became so frustrated by the lack of translated content available for one of her favorite girl groups, Weki Meki, that she took matters into her own hands. “Smaller girl groups don’t get any [English] translations because there’s not a big demand for them,” she says. “So I pledged to myself that I would learn Korean so that I could help international fans of these girl groups have translations for social media posts and V Lives.” She’s still working toward that goal (“I’m so close!” she says), but she did join a Weki Meki fan account to help organize global streaming parties.

For most, the desire to learn Korean stems from something as simple as wanting to connect with idols on a deeper level. 22-year-old media studies student Lissete Vega started learning Korean in 2015 because she wanted to sing along with her favorite SHINee songs. “I wanted to better understand them through their language and also through their culture,” she says. Now, she meets with a private tutor once or twice a week and she’s able to understand “most of what BTS tweets without having to wait for translating accounts to do it, which is an awesome feeling.” She says, “Just being able to connect with them without having to rely so much on outside resources like subtitles or translations has been really beneficial.”

It’s a sentiment a lot of K-pop fans share. After all, there are nuances that don’t always translate well. While music often transcends language, jokes may not. “Namjoon’s dad jokes are really hard to get if you don’t speak Korean, but once you do, they’re so stupidly funny,” 20-year-old Hannah Smith says. The New York University student and multifandom K-pop enthusiast has been teaching herself Korean for years via free online resources; she plans to take Korean as her foreign language elective. “It’s an academic way of consuming my entertainment,” she adds.

It’s also a facet of being part of an increasingly globalized fandom. “Now, practically every fan I meet at least knows how to read Hangul,” Vega says.

But K-pop superfans aren’t the only people interested in learning the language. A 2018 report from the Modern Language Association showed an increase in Korean class enrollments across college campuses in the United States by 13.7 percent between 2013 and 2016, while the overall number of language registrations decreased. But even as universities across the country cut foreign language departments altogether, the general rise in popularity of Korean sees many people, like Krupp, teaching themselves. Free resources like Talk To Me In Korean, How To Study Korean, Duolingo, and YouTube make the learning process more accessible to millions of eager students. Roughly 3.3 million people practice their Korean on Duolingo, making it the sixth-most popular course among English learners on the language-learning app after it was added to the platform in late 2017. Meanwhile, three times a week YouTuber Korean Unnie teaches everything from must-know words and phrases (in both formal and informal speech) to grammar to cultural nuances on her popular channel.

And now, global superstars BTS have joined the mix: Just as Friends helped BTS leader RM learn English, BTS want to help their fans learn Korean.

Two weeks ago, Big Hit Entertainment launched “Learn Korean With BTS,” a new online program that integrates language-learning into pre-existing BTS videos. Over the course of 30 free, short-form episodes uploaded weekly to their official fansite on WeVerse, the initiative aims to make learning Korean “easy and fun for global fans who have difficulty enjoying BTS’s music and contents due to the language barrier,” according to a statement from the company.

“It’s a very nice way to bring together this massive fandom who are very much interested in learning,” says Monica Yadav, a culture writer and K-pop enthusiast based in Mumbai, India. She started teaching herself Korean through YouTube and webtoons to better understand the depth of BTS’s lyricism, which is largely rooted in literature and philosophy. “Those seven boys have so much power to influence so many people.”

For Jesse*, a 27-year-old Asian-American publicist from San Francisco, California, the fact that they’re using their power “to do something positive makes me feel even better about my choice to be a fan.” But it also signifies what makes the industry so unique. “The way that K-pop actively invites its fans to be a part of the whole experience isn’t really paralleled in Western music,” she says. “It’s a participatory experience. There’s so much to do, and so much they ask you to do, that learning the language has helped me feel more involved as a fan.”

Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

Devised by Professor Heo Yong of Hankuk University and researchers at the Korea Language Contents Institute, the curriculum five episodes in has covered pronunciation of consonants, introductions, numbers, and key phrases like “thank you” and “how have you been?” — all while using memorable clips from the group’s numerous variety programs and broadcasts as teaching aids. Reading “안녕하세요” is an accomplishment, but hearing singer Jimin cutely say “annyonghaseyo” gives learners a better grasp on the language entirely. This is especially important for beginners.

“It’s important to learn pronunciation and annunciation properly if you’re starting to learn Korean,” Eun Oh, a manager and teacher at Korean Culture Center of New York, says. “From a linguistic perspective, pronunciation is the foundation of communication.” Oh encourages her students to avidly consume all types of Korean media, from dramas to music to Korean variety shows, to not only improve listening comprehension but to also familiarize themselves with how Koreans speak.

“I do like hearing Korean spoken naturally,” 26-year-old fan Lindsey Bosak says. “I feel like it’s a good way to figure out what I’m saying incorrectly.” Bosak first started teaching herself Korean three years ago with the hope of one day being able to multitask while watching Korean dramas. (“I wanted to be able to do things while watching TV, like clean,” she suggests.) But it wasn’t until discovering BTS that she got serious about her studies, purchasing textbooks and practicing on apps throughout the day. “I started reading lyric translations, and I fell in love with the way that they write and the topics they talk about,” she explains. “I wanted to be able to understand that on my own and not have to follow along with lyric sheets.”

Bosak turned to BTS content to brush up on her skills, like Bangtan Bombs on YouTube and episodes of Run! BTS and Bon Voyage, which are available on V Live and WeVerse. “It’s always a little exciting when I recognize a word without looking at the subtitles,” she says. “I do try and test myself. When I learn new words, I like to watch [variety program] Run! BTS to see if I know anything. I really like hearing native speakers. It helps with pronunciation.”

This is what Jon Hills, director of New York-based language center Hills Learning, refers to as “authentic material.” Basically, it’s something that has been written or spoken by a native speaker for a native speaker. “In the language-learning world, there are textbooks and a variety of tools that are written by Korean speakers for English speakers,” Hills says. “But there’s been a move to try and integrate more authentic materials. A song or a piece of content from BTS is technically an authentic material. So what they’re trying to do makes sense. You’re learning Korean from an authentic source.”

Still, a device like “Learn Korean With BTS” is best used as a supplement. “It’s not a beginner course,” Bosak says after binging the first three episodes. “They do expect you to have a basic understanding of the Korean alphabet. I had to watch them a few times because they go so quickly. There’s not a lot of time to stop and digest what they’re saying. But I like the fact that they’re using old content. BTS has been such a big part of my life the last few years that I think this is a way for me to stick with it. It’s an incentive.”

A sample of ‘Learn Korean With BTS’ on WeVerse / Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

And motivation is the key to learning any language. And part of that incentive, Hills says, is “having external stimulants that you can watch and engage with.” But no matter how someone was introduced to the culture, be it through K-pop or Bong Joon Ho films, learning Korean is ultimately a long-term goal. “I really respect K-pop fans’ curiosity and love for the language,” Oh says. “But I would love to see that it goes beyond K-pop. BTS is opening a new door for [fans] to be introduced to a new world, just like how language has opened so many doors for me — to talk to people, to interact with people, to understand people.”

“There’s a whole other world out there,” Hills says. “There are a lot of perspectives out there that are not just Western.”

In their initial press announcement, Big Hit said that through learning Korean with BTS the company hopes “global fans will be able to deeply empathize” with the music of their artists. But, in the process, they’re helping fans empathize with one another. “I’ve had full conversations with other fans [online] where they’re speaking in Korean, and I respond in English, and they respond in Korean,” Smith says. “Because they understand English but can’t write it, and I understand Korean but can’t write it. So we communicate that way.”

“It breaks down the barriers between Korean and international fans,” Ciara adds. The 24-year-old activist from Dublin, Ireland, started learning the language after gradually picking up words after hours-long marathons of BTS content. Though it’s only been seven months since she began teaching herself Korean, she’s already experienced the joy of understanding something before it’s been subtitled. And she’s excited to start “Learn Korean With BTS.”

A BTS fan holds a sign that reads “Jeon Jung Kook” in Hangul in Central Park / Getty Images

“They understand that this is something their fans are passionate about,” she says. “Especially with a lot of the fandom devalued or being belittled — a lot of that rooted in misogyny. It’s a testament to fans caring about what these artists are saying and not just what people assume fans care about.”

And with a better understanding of the world comes a better understanding of yourself and how you fit into it. “It’s made it feel like a smaller world, especially in this time where there’s so much going on that’s negative,” Bosak says. “It’s really nice to have something to connect with people over. And I’m meeting people that I probably never would have met had I not started learning Korean.”

Back in her bedroom in Michigan, Krupp sums it up perfectly: “It’s boring being monolingual, honestly.”

*Last name withheld for privacy

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