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
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports