Business Owners Keep Moving Forward: Sandi West and Dori Lewis
Sandi West, owner of Sandi’s Styles in Middletown, has felt the economic hardship of COVID-19.
Being a business owner can be risky and stressful, but being a business owner during a pandemic brings a whole new set of challenges. For many female entrepreneurs, COVID-19 has been a season of stopping, pivoting, and trying to move forward despite uncertainty and fear.
THE NECESSITY OF AN ONLINE PRESENCE
Businesses that didn’t have an online presence before the pandemic have had to weather more stress, while savvy retailers who regularly used social media prior to COVID-19 have been able to use it to their advantage, keeping customers apprised of what is for sale, the cost, and curbside pickup procedures.
Sandi West, owner of Sandi’s Styles in Middletown, which is a women’s fashion storefront, mobile pink truck, and online shop, has felt the economic hardship of COVID-19. April is typically her biggest month of the year, and much of her inventory is geared toward graduations, Derby, and vacation wear, all of which were canceled or postponed.
Although her shop had a presence on Instagram and Facebook as well as a VIP group for loyal customers, she says she didn’t feel comfortable pushing products the first several weeks of quarantining. “Everybody was in a crisis situation; you’re trying to protect your families and yourself so I figured that was everybody’s priority,” she says.
Sandi’s Styles is comprised of a women’s fashion storefront, mobile pink truck, and online shop.
Many of Sandi’s suppliers in Los Angeles, California, began making masks from fabric remnants of dresses and tops that Sandi sells. “I started selling those and was able to pay my rent,” she says. She has done curbside pickup and offered free shipping to boost business, but because she is in the high-risk health category for COVID-19 infection, she has been hesitant to re-open the shop to customers.
Sandi’s involvement with professional organizations for boutique owners helped her realize, even before COVID-19, that an online presence is an absolute necessity. Malls and brick-and-mortar shops are simply not what they used to be in terms of generating traffic. While her business has been closed to in-person shopping, Sandi has used this time to take a class on Facebook advertising in order to better use the technology to market to potential clients.
“[The pandemic] forced me to renew my webpage and enter the online selling market, which was a must anyway,” says Dori Lewis, owner of Polkadotted Pineapple Boutique, a consignment shop in Shelbyville, Kentucky. “I had someone working on it, and it was a good thing it was up and running.” She says making that abrupt pivot to online sales was difficult, but “when you have no other avenue to generate business, you have to do something.”
P.S. Not ready to visit the salon? Check these tips for maintaining the health of your hair and hair color at home.