how to start a business during a pandemic
I have small business in my bones. As a kid, I used to join my dad when he worked at his office on the weekends. He put me to work filing client statements or putting postage on envelopes - and I loved it. We spent summers growing tomatoes, with hundreds of plants planted at my grandparents farm. My siblings and I would sell tomatoes at a vegetable stand we set up on our driveway.
My first retail job was in college, working for an independently owned shoes/accessories boutique in Charlottesville, VA. It was one of the best job experiences, and I learned more working at that shop than in any other job I’ve had since. I loved the store, its merchandise and its atmosphere. Even more, I loved my coworkers and the people who shopped there. I really loved working retail, and I ended up working in fashion or retail in many contexts over the next 20 years.
After moving to Summit, NJ I started working at a wonderful LYS called W&G. By that point, I was an incredibly enthusiastic knitter, and I felt fortunate to be in an environment to share something I really believed in with the community around me. Over the next five-or-so years, my role at Wool & Grace evolved and I put a ton of energy and love into everything I did there. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity at W&G - to learn so much about small business life and the community around me.
After a particularly busy few months at Wool & Grace, my husband suggested over dinner: “You work so hard at W&G, I think you might be even more satisfied if you were running your own business.” It was hard to ignore this suggestion, and my wheels started turning. My first idea was to bring that wonderful shop where I worked in college to Summit. I still think it would do so well here in Summit! I approached my old boss and asked her if she was interested. She was not, but she suggested I start something on my own. And there I went.
I finally secured a spot in downtown Summit in late 2019. I had been planning this concept for so long, many pieces fell into place easily. I secured some amazing vendors (some with many thanks to Amy, my old boss from Scarpa) and planned my purchases. I planned to open in March 2020, to hit April and May hard before the summer. I went to market in February, essentially planning my purchases through the end of 2020. Then just days before I was set to open, coronavirus came to town.