The impact of Covid-19 came so fast almost like a thief in the night. In what seemed like a weeks’ time, business as we knew it shut down, and we were ordered to shelter in place for our safety. I will admit that I was surprised by the suddenness of it all. Sales for us were starting to increase and suddenly, sales in March came to an almost virtual standstill.
We needed an injection of cash to give the business an increase in cash flow. I applied for a credit limit increase on the business credit card and was declined. I will admit. I started to stress a bit. I was not sure what we were going to do.
I saw a lot of my fellow seamstresses starting to make masks. I received some request to make masks as well. But I did not want to make them. Why you may ask? Making a garment correctly, even one as simple as a mask, is very time consuming. I knew that I did not want to produce masks long term because it did not fit with our brand. And honestly, my heart was not in it. Nor was I motivated to do it. I did not want to be distracted from the work we needed to do to pivot during this pandemic by making masks myself.
Most of our sales come from our Ready to Wear collection. I thought, “What would I want to wear at home, when running errands and on Zoom meetings?” I want to be cute, comfortable, and presentable all at the same time. Instead of a collection of masks, the ‘Relax and Chill’ collection was born. This collection consists of budget friendly leisurewear.
On March 27th, the CARES (Cornonavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) act was passed by Congress. The CARES act introduced the SBA Paycheck Protection Program which enable banks to lend money to small businesses to cover their payroll and keep employees working. We do not have any employees on payroll so I did not apply for this assistance. However, I did apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and grant. This loan is essentially a working capital loan for business who have experienced a loss of revenue due to Covid-19. (Sidenote: I have learned that sole proprietors, 1099 contractors, and single-member LLCs may be eligible for a PPP loan).
I applied for an EIDL loan at the beginning of April. I saw on the news where the funds had been exhausted very quickly. At that point, I realized that I had to work with the money we had. In order to drive traffic to our store, I spent as much money as I could afford on Facebook ads. Almost every dollar made was put back into the business so that I could purchase more inventory for our Ready to Wear Collection and use for marketing. Things started to turn around a bit.
To my surprise, at the end of May, I was approved for a small EIDL loan. A few weeks later, I received an EIDL grant. At this point, I felt like our business might have a fighting chance. Last month was our highest sales month since we opened our online store in December 2017.
In January of this year, I started to meet with a SCORE mentor, Bill Macy. We began working on a plan of things I could do to increase sales. In addition, I have attended classes hosted by SCORE. SCORE is an organization of volunteers, who in partnership with the SBA, mentor small business owners. Bill’s advice has helped me tremendously. Additionally, I could not have survived this process without the support of my husband, Grant, my biggest cheerleader. I wanted to quit several times, but Grant would not let me. He encouraged me to get a SCORE mentor.
Most importantly, our business could not survive during this pandemic without you, our customers. Your loyal support means more than you could ever imagine. Please continue to support small businesses when you can. Every time you purchase a product or service from a small business owner, you are helping to make a dream come true.
My tee shirt is from The T-Shirt Lady. My skirt and sash is from our custom Signature Couture collection.