The coronavirus pandemic has unquestionably affected small businesses in a myriad of ways. From working remotely to dwindling revenues, regular processes are becoming a thing of the past as COVID-19 has forced business owners to significantly scale back their operations.
While the federal government recently rolled out a $2 trillion economic stimulus plan intended to aid US business and the American public, small businesses and entrepreneurs are currently struggling to make ends meet. While designed to slow the spread of the virus, social distancing has stripped small businesses of their in-person customers and all but shattered their cash flow. For many independent business owners, from photographers to hairstylists, the effects of the global pandemic can be challenging, if not devastating.
While undoing the effects of the coronavirus will be a much larger job, not all hope is lost. There are several ways that we can help still support our local businesses. We asked a variety of small business owners how people can aid their companies while we power through these tough times.
Jane, Founder of Nolaskinsentials
"Nolaskinsentials is a millennial, plant-based, cruelty-free skincare brand. We offer a variety of skincare products that cater to all types of concerns as well as skin types. To help provide our customers with accurate/personal recommendations, we also offer free skincare consultations as well!
"We're an e-commerce brand, so it's nothing out of the ordinary for us to continue shipping packages to our Nolababes. In terms of getting orders out in a timely fashion — that has been delayed due to the pandemic. However, we're still trying our very best to make sure everyone receives their items as safely and as quickly as possible.
"Our main concern right now is the safety of not only our customers, but everyone that this pandemic is currently affecting. With that being said, we feel the best option is to stay home and shop online for the things you need, skincare included. The safety risks are significantly lower than having to go out and publicly shop. With so many shortages of products from bigger brands, this is practically the best time to shop small businesses — we're fully stocked and ready to push out orders!
"In terms of remaining positive, I've been able to spend more time with my family for one. I also make it a point every morning to meditate and listen to my body and find out what it is I need to continue pushing through. My customers motivate me as well, they give me the extra 'umph' I need to get through the day. Because, well — acne doesn't stop just because we're in shambles. They truly keep me going, without a doubt."
Gabrielle McBay, Chef, Entrepreneur and Content Creator
"I provide private chef and boutique catering services. My business has definitely experienced unexpected change. As a chef, I work with people and events and now that everyone has been ordered to stay at home, all of my events for most of the year have been cancelled. I'm not sure when the next time is that I'll be able to work...and that's something that I don't think anyone can plan or be ready for. People can patronize small businesses during this time by supporting or sharing their products and services. Many businesses are trying to find new ways to reach customers online.
"Along with being a chef, I'm also a content creator. When COVID-19 started, I wrote a cookbook in 10 days with my followers on Instagram. I wanted to give people an easy cooking guide that will help them feel more comfortable in the kitchen, especially during this time. Patrons can support me by purchasing my new digital cookbook,You Have Food at Home.
"To be honest, it's been challenging to be calm and positive every day. I'd be lying if I said I haven't had my moments or been scared of what the future looks like. One thing I've been doing is giving myself grace to feel. It's OK to be sad or frustrated. But it's not OK to be consumed by fear and sit in worry. My faith motivates me to keep going. I trust God, above all things."
Dr. Alison Mitchell, MD, Founder and CEO, Renewed Hair Co.
"We provide clinically proven restorative hair care products that are 100% organic, non-toxic and yield results in the first 30 days. Our pioneer product, the Renewing Hair Elixir, combats a plethora of hair issues including hair loss, scalp irritation, balding, stunted growth and overall hair health.
"Thankfully, our products are made in the US, so we have been able to stay stocked. We have intensified many processes with our manufacturer and fulfillment company to ensure the utmost sterility and safety for our customers. We have, however, incurred delays in shipping times and processing of orders due to minimum personnel working at our centers. This pandemic has prompted us to be intentional with communication to customers and offering relief with reduced pricing during this time.
"There are many ways to support small businesses like ours during this time -- outside of making a purchase. Sharing a story about our products, liking and commenting on our social media pages and telling others about our hair care products are great ways to support. Also, when considering personal care while at home, giving thought to using Renewed Hair Co is hugely supportive.
"This company was founded on faith, and that same faith is what we are standing on to get through this difficult time. We began with a mission to help others solve devastating hair issues and through this pandemic our desire will remain the same. Though times are tough, our loyal customers still deserve to keep their hair healthy and flourishing. We know that this will pass, and we are determined to weather the storm until it does."
Kia Marie, Owner and Lead Event Planner for Kia Marie Events
"Kia Marie Events services includes event planning, event design, event management and one-on-one mentorship in event planning. It's the home for exclusive events for people who love to be elegantly entertained.
"We all are going through some form of change. I'm encouraging my clients to postpone their events instead of canceling. So far, we've postponed two events and two weddings into the fall season and the summer of 2021. The positive change is that I've been able to look at my business as a whole. I'm in the process of a rebrand and this has given me some time to enhance the Kia Marie Events experience for our clients.
"During this time, it's important for small businesses to let their past, present and future customers know that they are still in business. We can support small businesses by purchasing gift cards, online shopping, supporting local meal delivery services and sharing business offerings through social media platforms. If you have income coming in, invest in your business by signing up for memberships, coaching and industry educational courses. As for Kia Marie Events, we ask that clients support by postponing their events instead of canceling them. We are here to help our clients navigate and manage this process.
"When it comes to staying positive, I read daily affirmations, check on my circle daily and invest in my business. I also take breaks when needed. At first, I was bogged down with making sure my business was OK. But God has already confirmed that He has that part covered. So, for me keeping my head high, spending time with my family and keeping in touch with like-minded people keeps me calm and balanced."
Miriam Milord, Founder and Creative Director for BCakeNY
"BCakeNY is a custom cake studio located in Brooklyn, New York. Founded in 2009, we are dedicated to creating specialty cakes for all occasions. Our mission is to transfer our clients' vision into extraordinarily unique and delicious cakes. Our store front in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn is a community staple and we have been serving our clients over a decade now.
"BCakeNY has been majorly impacted by the pandemic. We mainly create cakes for large events like weddings and birthday parties and to keep people safe it was necessary to implement social distancing and ban large gatherings. For us this meant massive cancellations and layoffs. We had to immediately adjust to the new customer need of small cakes for at-home celebrations and virtual parties. We are working with a small staff now, from 18 down to five. It has been a tough adjustment, but we appreciate that we can still provide a service and jobs for a few employees.
"We support our neighborhood businesses by ordering in from restaurants or purchasing gift cards for friends and family. Small businesses are suffering, and we are trying to support our community as best as we can. We are offering smaller-sized custom cakes that can be ordered online for delivery or pick up. We also ship and deliver cake jars. When you order on our website, you can also donate a cupcake to our healthcare workers which we deliver to our local hospitals every week. Times are difficult for everyone and if you can't purchase from your favorite small biz right now, you can always support them by simply liking and sharing their social media posts.
"My employees and clients keep me motivated, we want to continue to provide jobs and joy. Birthdays still happen every day and smiles and joy are so needed right now. We work hard for that every day, despite the uncertainty of these times."
Fatima, Makeup Artist, Content Creator and Beauty Influencer
"I offer beauty services to clients for weddings, fashion shows, photo shoots and special events. With this being prom, graduation and wedding season, my appointments have been postponed until further notice.
"Some of the most effective ways to support small businesses during this time is to like and share their social media content as well as purchasing their products. Being home more allows me time to work on my craft, brainstorm and research different things that inspire me.
"What really keeps me motivated is the people who are still reaching out to me and letting me know when this is all over, they still want me to be a part of their most memorable moments."
Mecca Gamble McConnell, Photographer
"My company, Mecca Gamble Photography, offers brand photography for women of color. Due to the stay-at-home orders, I can't shoot, and I've had to cancel, reschedule and refund a number of shoots and upcoming events.
"Customers can support my business by rescheduling or booking future dates on the calendar. Right now, I am really leaning on my faith and my family. Professionally, I have a group of colleagues who support me and keep me encouraged. During this time, I am enjoying the opportunity to learn new things."
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Featured image via Mecca Gamble McConnell/Instagram