It’s no secret that COVID-19 has turned our whole entire world upside down. While the pandemic is certainly effecting everybody worldwide, the crisis is crippling small, local businesses unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. We can’t stress enough how it’s more important than ever to support the local stores and businesses in your community. Whether it’s your fave clothing store, fitness studio, hair salon, or even nail bar, now is the time to shout them out on social media, or even purchase a gift card to use at a later time. Showing your support when times are rough not only means the world to business owners, but it’s also a great way to stay positive and look to brighter days ahead that, slowly but surely, are on their way.
Toronto is filled with a ton of small businesses that, even when we’re not experiencing a pandemic, need our support. Keep reading to find out how these 8 small businesses are getting by during the COVID-19 crisis.
“I own two shops – Easy Tiger and Ease. It’s obviously devastating in terms of the amount of people it’s affected so quickly, and how much its affected retail and local businesses in such a short period of time. I think in this moment, we’re all trying to stay calm, until we know more about timeframe, and government lockdowns that will be enforced soon. We are just taking this time to help promote as many local businesses that are affected by something so global, and there isn’t much we can do but support our communities, and other independent shops. We’re all doing our best to stay afloat, but it’s scary. Independent designers and retailers have joined forces at this time to figure out how to promote our goods. My one shop, Ease has been more affected, since it’s merchandise is seasonal and all made by independent brands – so we are figuring out ways to put our products online without having to take our own photos of the pieces. I’ve asked all my designers to send me stock photos along with their deliveries so we can put them online asap and have another avenue for them to sell their pieces, as well to make some sales. For both shops, Ease and Easy Tiger, we are offering free shipping within Canada, and urging our loyal customers to buy gift cards from us (that don’t expire and can help up financially stay afloat). Pls let me know if you require any more info. Running two businesses during this time has been extremely hard to navigate being the only one in charge of its finances. I am banking on the support of our community, as well as the government to help us during this time. My staff’s wellbeing is my biggest priority and them getting paid for their work is something I take very seriously. I think we’re just all figuring out how to navigate through this time respectfully, thoughtfully, and safely.” – Zai Rajkotwala, Owner, Easy Tiger Goods & Ease
“Business is never straight forward, when things like this happen to our economy it’s an opportunity to make changes. You have to be willing to pivot to meet the needs of your community. We have always been open and honest with our community, and being connected is what we do best. Social media is a powerful tool that we are using to reach out during this time. Our social platforms (@upandarmed) are our primary outlet that we think best suit the wants and needs of our community. Spreading positivity and good energy is very important to us as we try work together to get through this as a community” – Desiree Girlato, Owner, Armed
“The MISFITS are more connected than ever in this strange time. Virtual connection is allowing our teachers to unite as a family, and share tips with each on how WE are remaining sane and strong so that we can pass positivity on to our community. We are encouraging everyone to move their physical bodies in a variety of ways with our live Instagram classes and online classes. The movement ranges from high cardio to slow stretch. By joining together, virtually moving, breathing and meditating, it’s our mission to keep spirits up.” – Amber Joliat, creator of MISFITSTUDIO
These are crazy times, but with every change comes opportunity to try something new, shift your way of thinking, looking at different angles. Our entrepreneurial community is stronger than ever. We’re used to working through problems every day and this is just another one. We’re going to continue being there for our customers virtually. Our production is still open, but only one staff member is working at a time to ensure their safety and security. We’re going to (slowly but surely) do our best to keep new, beautiful things coming your way. It’s bolstering to know – We’re all in this together. It has never been more true and it’s what will get us through to the other side. For now we need to think globally and act locally. – Christina Remenyi, Founder/Designer, Fortnight Lingerie
“Currently my team of 22 are all working from home. As a small business owner, my challenge was how to keep us all active, in good spirits and have enough projects to work on. We have a very energetic, creative team and this has definitely forced us to think outside of the box. We have a full schedule for the whole team for the next 2 weeks, this includes webinars, video calls, spring collections, social media content, training sessions(via video) and some fun morale projects e.g we each are posting a fun, ridiculous weather report to our private chat, every morning at 9:30 a.m. We have an Instagram highlight dedicated to #athomewithTIPS and we will be adding content to that daily. We are actively engaging over our social channels with our clients by creating DIY videos, Q&A’s, educational videos/content and support for other local businesses. We have our “Front Desk Concierge” team available to help with anything from future appointment bookings, product shipments for guest that may need to purchase something, or anything we can help with, really.
We definitely appreciate the support we have been receiving from our clients and the community, some sending kind notes, purchasing gift cards for friends, and ordering product to top-up through email (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is very touching and extremely useful at this time.” – Leeanne Colley, Owner, Tips Nail Bar
“We’ve been asking ourselves what light we can bring during these uncertain and unprecedented times. We believe fashion can decorate your day – it has the power to ability to uplift, provide moments of escape, positivity and joy. As such, we will be soldiering on with our Spring Warehouse Sale (on until Friday, March 27), but will be donating a portion of the proceeds to those organizations impacted by COVID-19, specifically at the Toronto Humane Society. We’re continuing to serve customers online with deliveries currently operating as normal and in accordance with official health guidelines. Our showroom and store at stackt are operating digitally and we welcome customers to make an appointment via FaceTime. Our production team – from cutters and sewers to pattern makers and designers – are continuing their work in self-isolation. As a direct to consumer brand, we remain well positioned to serve our customers. Our team members continue to work from home and we’re taking the appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our operational employees and distribution partners. We remain fully committed to our mission of producing thoughtful pieces for the vibrant, free-spirited woman.” – Ellie Mae, Owner, Ellie Mae Studios
“The closure has been incredibly scary for BOLO. As a small start-up in our 2nd year of business – this type of setback could be detrimental to our future. We’ve had to pause all revenue coming in and layoff all employees so they can apply for government support. I am hopeful that since the whole world is in the same position that everyone will do their part to support each other through this time – specifically we will need incredible compassion and patience from our landlords in order to get through this. While the future of all small businesses is uncertain, our number one priority right now is keeping our community engaged, active and feeling connected to us and one another. So far it’s been incredible to watch everyone come together online to participate in conversations, workouts and more! Every day BOLO has three offerings for our followers – a workout at 10 a.m., a live ‘team chat’ at noon – tackling topics like mindfulness, nutrition, and beauty – as well as a live “clinics” focusing on helping to improve basic fitness skills like pushups, squats, running, etc. We will continue to offer this free content for as long as we can and hope people are following along and feeling those signature BOLO vibes at home.” – Caleigh Rykiss, Founder & CEO, BodyLove Inc.
“It’s an uneasy time for hair stylists and beauty providers because we physically need to be present with our clients. So, we as a collective have come up with new ways to stay in touch – we’re sharing tips daily on Instagram, the do’s and don’ts for your hair during social distancing. We’re sharing hair tutorials and we can also do virtual consultations for our clients who want to chat about their hair. The way people can show support is to pre-book their appointments and to communicate with us on social media. It goes a long way when you’re a small business if people like, comment or share posts. We’re thankful for the messages we’re receiving from our amazing clients and can’t wait to reunite” – David Nadicci, creator, we are we are
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