This post was originally intended to be about our vintage collection, now live, which I am making available again online for the first time in a couple of years. We primarily sell our one-of-a-kind vintage pieces in our Charleston Shop, but like everyone else we have had to close during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, I'll be moving to an online-only model for the foreseeable future. As I was already managing my retail store somewhat remotely - this adds another interesting twist to the story of being an entrepreneur (insert all the emojis here). Oddly, I had already intended to share and sell some of my favorite vintage pieces here, which I had my talented go-to photographer Jesse Volk come help me photograph two weeks ago. I was down in Charleston and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and Jesse was in from LA. We were joking around and talking about our next shoot in April. If someone had told us this is where we would be in two weeks, I would not have believed them, not even a bit. It all feels like some kind of nightmare we can't wake up from.
I now find myself, like many people, in almost completely foreign territory personally, professionally and financially. So I thought, in addition to putting some of the vintage items online that are normally exclusive to our Charleston Store, I would also share some thoughts and ideas that have been helpful to me during this difficult time. A true crisis like this can bring out the worst in people (like hoarding food and toilet paper or refusing to adhere to health guidelines in place to protect those more vulnerable) but it can also bring out the best in people and yield incredible acts of kindness and generosity.
Helping Small Businesses
In addition to those for whom this becomes a true health crisis, small business and their employees are getting hit very hard right now and it will only get worse. Most small to medium size businesses operate on a razor thin margin financially while also employing dozens of hourly employees and working with vendors who rely on them for their revenue. The rug was pulled out from under all of us in the last week. A friend in the hospitality business who owns several medium size businesses that employ dozens of people had to close his operations abruptly and said in shock "It just happened so fast." We are all processing and trying our best to pivot. Here are the things I think we can to to help small to medium size businesses who are less likely to get a significant financial bailout at the end of this, if any.
Shop And Share: Even if you are not in a position to spend anything extra right now (and I know most of us aren't) continue to spread the word about businesses and brands you love and frequent under normal circumstances. There may be people out there who will still continue have disposable income (you could be swimming in money if you happen to own a liquor store!). And at the very least, sharing the love will at least put your favorite brands and spots on people's radar when things do begin to rebound. Check out and join this amazing Facebook group supporting small business started by Gwynn's of Mount Pleasant. They are a leader in the Charleston Retail Community and one of our first retail accounts.
Dine At A Distance: I had a bit of an emotional moment driving down King Street in Charleston and seeing all the restaurants that are closed or have moved to a takeout only model. While this is clearly the responsible and necessary thing to do in this time, if you have the resources and comfort level with continuing to frequent your favorite dining spots by placing pickup meal orders, doing so now will increase the likelihood they will be there when this is all over. Additionally it will help keep staff employed who are keeping their kitchens going during these closures and in no uncertain terms, keep people still working fed and with a roof over there head. Some angel in Charleston has created this online resource of all the places you can still get takeout or curbside pickup right now: Dining At A Distance (Charleston) and I am willing to bet there are similar resources for other cities.
Reach Out to An Entrepreneur: Being an entrepreneur is hard enough under normal circumstances - being responsible for rent, insurance, staffing, inventory, taxes... the list is endless. Whether it's someone who owns four restaurants a single retail store, is a hair stylist or even just makes their entire living selling on ebay or Etsy check in with your entrepreneur friends and make sure they are not losing their shit, because we are. Just a phone call or email telling them you are thinking of them will go a long way right now and make them feel less alone and get your mind of your own problems right now, of which we all have plenty.
"Adversity Is A Terrible Thing to Waste"
A (very successful) former classmate of mine posted this quote on Instagram recently. Apparently, it was something his Dad, who had a huge career in the hospitality industry, used to say regularly. This time we are in right now is what real adversity looks like, probably beyond what most of us have experienced in our lifetimes. This is the time where innovations have to happen just to survive, personally, professionally, financially. It is a massive recalibration that unfortunately will have dire consequences for many businesses and entrepreneurs. The old ways are gone.
Yet, there will be those who come out of this with different advantages - financial, intellectual and creative simply because the limitations have forced them to do things differently when they otherwise would not have. In the time we all now have because we are being forced to be still and cease much of the distracted, productive activity that normally defines our lives, find a new way forward and nurture your creativity - because even if you don't want to, you may have to. At the end of the day, when your health is at risk, your financial security may be in peril, and the world as you knew it has been turned upside down, what's most important and necessary will inevitably rise to the surface. An if you own a business is there something you can do differently right now to help and contribute you did not have the time or inclination to do before?
This is a portrait of what my quarantine will look like - having an 8 year old attached to you 24/7 - and was taken by the talented Peter Freed at Thanksgiving last year. I have spent most of my days with her since school was cancelled, I have become a home school teacher, I have enlisted her help to write thank you notes to all the customers still purchasing items on our website (THANK YOU!) and though I have explained, in gentle parent terms what is happening, the unfailing positivity of a second grader's perspective on things is something I am really grateful for right now.