When COVID-19 raised its head in the tri-state zone in March, countless small businesses turned up quickly. There is no denying the sad fact that many have passed away recently, but others have found their groove by supporting the needs of their local communities.
Their triumphs offer some insights from which we can all learn. If nothing else, maybe you’ll find a new little biz or two to put on your radar and support this holiday season.
This NYC fashion label takes traditional Japanese kimonos and recycles them into custom embroidered coats and jackets.
How they helped: Ichikawa felt powerless while watching the city close by COVID-19. “We know many designers who make masks, but as a small company with limited resources, we wanted to make a significant impact for our front-line workers in their time of need,” he said.
He learned of ShoppingGives, which allows e-commerce sites to donate a percentage of profits to any 501 (c) (3) charity.
“We are soon supporting Fashion Girls for Humanity, a non-profit organization that helps fund clothing center factories that have changed their manufacturing to make hospital-grade PPE for front-line workers across the country,” he said.
Soon after, socially consistent retailers in mind, took Ichikawa’s bespoke kimono line – boutiques like Matriark in Sag Harbor, which donate a portion of the charity sales that support women’s equality, and Elizabeth Anthony in Houston, which supports No Kid Hungry. Responding to this turn last year, Ichikawa is happy to report double-digit sales growth.
“Whenever someone deals with uncertainty and unpredictability, especially as a small business owner, it’s only natural to feel a little helpless and frustrated,” he said. “However, if the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that the only control you have in this life is over your actions, so take it as an opportunity to do better in this world, and it will surely make you feel better. ”
A home-to-home delivery service for homes in Fairfield County, Conn., And Westchester County, Mike’s Organic partners with small farms to deliver fresh local produce, dairy, meat and even more to your doorstep.
How they helped: During the blockade, owner Mike Geller and his team heard that health workers survived on packaged and processed meats, with no fresh food to eat during their long, grueling days.
“We have started donating organic fresh fruit to local hospitals in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut,” Geller said. “This has become a wider initiative that we have launched to fight food insecurity in the area, as it is at its highest point.
Each week, we donate fruits and vegetables to those in need and help coordinate popular agricultural markets with local charities to provide access to fresh produce. ”
This also benefits family farms, as many run the risk of losing their business when they lose their catering and catering customers.
“We understand that if we expanded our offerings to operate more as a one-stop food delivery service, we would be able to better respond to customer needs,” Geller said. “We continued to buy from small local farms, but especially during home stay orders, people wanted to be able to shop with a provider for their grocery needs, so we knew we had to find a way to expand.”
In a short period of time, they have been able to add more than 300 products to their website to meet consumer demand.
Geller insists on the importance of staying true to your company’s mission. “Find ways to build on your fundamentals that complement what you stand for as a company,” he said. “For example, we have increased our product offerings significantly, but we have also been true to our organic roots and our philosophy of connecting consumers to healthy food.”
Best known for its “renegade tours” of museums in NYC and beyond, Museum Hack now manages a number of virtual programming, mostly through the company TeamBuilding.com.
How they helped: When the pandemic broke out, Museum Hack created a grant program for free or discounted programs to profits and schools. “Since our travel business has been disrupted by COVID-19, we have gone on to offer virtual events. We provide services to corporate groups, and grants allow us to serve nonprofits, educational institutions and small businesses,” said co-owner Michael Alexis.
“We’ve put in 10 years of work in the last six months,” Alexis said. “If your business is down, you need to make the same effort that you did when you started.”
For Alexis, it meant turning to data. First, he checked the trends on Google for words related to the tourism industry. “Virtual visits to museums had quickly culminated and then fallen off,” he said. “But, virtual team-building seems to have the power to maintain, so we put our full operational capability towards that. Trends and data will always be relevant in companies, so start with that, build a thesis, and then act on it. to her quickly. “
Now, they have a complete itinerary of virtual link activities, scavenger hunts, narrative workshops and even more.
“One of the first testimonials we had for a virtual event was,‘ For 90 minutes, I forgot everything that happened in the world, ’” Alexis said.In a time where we crave normalcy, is there a higher praise?
WOS finds talent in underserved communities, trains them, and puts them to work as employers like Mount Sinai, Prudential, PSEG and even more.
How they helped: As a profit, helping the community is rooted in their fiber. In addition to standard recruitment and training services, they have earned their Free Workforce Essentials Certificate for anyone who has been disproportionate to COVID-19.
The program teaches soft skills such as literacy in corporate culture and self-esteem to help counselors prepare for the job placement. Supported by Columbia University, WOS now offers certification to “underprivileged or unemployed individuals who are seeking to make a positive impact both on their professional success and in their personal lives,” said Art Langer founder, Ph.D. .D.
In addition to shifting all its training and online operations, WOS has used the crisis as an opportunity to expand its reach. “This pandemic is accelerating the ongoing digital transformation that we are seeing in businesses,” Langer said.
“Everything a small business can do to use technology like Zoom and connect with online customers has to go a long way.”