How Covid-19 Has Affected Women Owned Businesses In The Greater Toledo Area
HerHub Covid-19 Campaign– Sharing our struggles and successes together
With all the craziness going on in the world, it is a given that people’s lives will change and evolve in different ways. This is just as true for the businesses the women of HerHub have worked so hard to create and grow. This pandemic has put a kink in a lot of things and in some instances, has hindered a lot of plans and ideas many of us have had. That being said, we want to spread some positivity in this community in relation to all of this.
HerHub was established with the purpose of not only connecting the women of greater Toledo, but also with the aim of instilling inspiration and creating a platform where women feel safe enough to share their struggles and their wins. We want to be real about what is going on in the world, but also want to provide hope in the face of the many challenges life throws at us. We want to create a space where we can help each other out in big and small ways!
Please know that:
You are not alone
You are heard
You are seen
Therefore, we have decided to compile testimonials from some of the amazing business owners of Toledo on how Covid-19 has affected them. We want to encourage not only the flow of sharing within HerHub, but also the imperative need of support between ALL members of the community. Our goal is to allow them the space to express themselves, their struggles and how, despite it all, they’re creating ways to transform and grow.
We also want to encourage everyone to reach out to one another with solutions of any kind! While HerHub will do what it can to be of service, it is imperative that each individual shows their support when possible. If you have any ideas, suggestions or plans of actions for any of the businesses below or any other female-run businesses in greater Toledo, please feel free to post and share about it! We love you for it!
Stephanie Solheim- Toledo Web Designers & Digital Marketing
Stephanie Solheim, owner of Toledo Web Designers and Digital Marketing that specializes in digital marketing and web design, has seen her business shift in a different way than many others. With in-person e-commerce coming to a standstill because of Covid-19, it has been more important now than ever that businesses have a strong online presence. Stephanie has had a lot of small business owners reaching out to see what they can do to help people find them, shop online, schedule appointments for Telehealth, update their Google my business, etc. She is even helping clients add Covid-19 protocol to their websites.
Truthfully, she has been busier than ever, but it is a double-edged sword. Due to Covid-19 she is trying to do more work with less time and without the support of family to help with her children, she’s struggling to find the time to actually work. Stephanie really misses being able to visit her clients in person (for those that are in Ohio and Michigan) and has missed the creativity of content creation with her clients so much!
Because much of her work is remote and will continue to be that way, there will be a huge focus on making sure her client’s websites and online profiles accurately reflect their new business hours and covid-19 protocol. One client of hers is launching an online marketplace while her wedding planning business is on pause, another client is focused on Telehealth and video or phone counseling since mental health support is very important right now. With things starting to open back up such as massage therapy, skincare and hair salons, finding ways to promote that will be huge. The real challenge and reward will be finding ways to make them stand out from all the noise!
Kaitlin Keiser- Kait Noelle Jewelry
Kaitlin Keiser owns a jewelry and custom jewelry design business and shares that COVID has shut down many of her metal, diamond and gemstone suppliers as well as the shops that her jewelers work in. In turn, this makes her turnaround time a bit longer than she’s used to. Fortunately, most of her business was done virtually pre-Covid, so she is able to keep meeting with clients for design appointments and moving forward with designing pieces. To work with the current climate, she is setting realistic deadlines with clients and also changing her approach to selling online. Right now, it doesn’t feel appropriate to sell what is considered a luxury item in the same way she used to, so she’s finding more ways to show the meaning behind the jewelry she sells, and not so much the status.
What she misses most about her business before Covid is seeing her brides get married! Most of the brides she has worked with recently have had to postpone their weddings and it’s absolutely heartbreaking!
Nevertheless, Kaitlin is taking this time to explore other avenues such as building exposure through Pinterest and Etsy, as well as working on SEO for her website. She is excited to keep practicing and learning about the more technical and virtual aspects of her business. It is also important to her to continue focusing on spreading a more “heart-centered” message about what she does. After all, that’s truly where the passion lies in her business, building a piece that holds symbolism to the wearer and is built so well that it can become a family heirloom.
Deb Cash- Yanbal
Deb Cash is the owner of Yanbal, a company that creates jewelry, skin care, fragrance and make-up. She’s found that Covid-19 has affected her business’ ability to host one-on-one consultations, small group hands-on demos and vendor events. She has tried to keep customers engaged by offering give-aways and raising money for hand cream donations to local hospitals and a hospital in East Harlem NYC.
What she misses most from her business is engaging with her clients in-person. Now that parts of Ohio are opening up, she hopes she will be able to resume classes and host appointments for 2 or 3 people at max in order to practice social distancing. She also wants to focus on engaging customers with online shopping and Facebook or Zoom classes. Any input or collaboration from other business owners would be welcome!
Kerri Brimmer- Brimmer Design
Kerri Brimmer, creator of Brimmer Design, which specializes in graphic design and websites shares that Covid has mostly pushed her business into running through lots of Zoom meetings! She shares that while business volume is down some, she is eager to help small businesses make the use of social media, Google listing and their website to grow and expand, even during these harsh times. Just like everyone else, she misses networking in person the most!
With the Responsible RestartOhio initiative she plans to do less in person meetings and networking, yet wants to reach out more to people who she used to see regularly and solidify bridges between her community.
Tonya M Snyr, LMT- Massage Therapy Center of Sylvania
Tonya Snyr from the Massage Therapy Center of Sylvania which specializes in massage therapy, stretch therapy and medical massage explains that Covid has forced her to completely shut down like so many other businesses. Because of this, she has had to keep in touch with her clients through social media, text and email and plans to follow the new guidelines that the medical board recommends for the safety of herself and her clients once the Responsible RestartOhio is put into action.
Debby Peters- Connext Nation
Connext Nation is a training company that focuses on referral-based strategies for business people that will allow them to build connections and grow. Owner Debbie Peters says the pandemic has affected her business positively in that it has forced her to transition to the virtual world! She is now offering courses online, something that has been on her list of goals for several years. She has had to learn how to use Power-Point to create her courses and Zoom to deliver her courses. It is still a work in progress, but she’s learning a lot!
What Debby misses most of her post-Covid business is getting to meet with her Board of Action, a group dedicated to providing feedback and ideas to other businesses. With the RestartOhio initiative taking place, she will be using Zoom for many more meetings, especially those in the Cleveland area as well as creating more virtual courses that will be available to anyone.
Paula Birney- Arista Home Care Solutions
Paula Birney owns Arista Home Care Solutions, an in-home health care provider of personal care, skilled nursing, PT and OT. Covid-19 has forced her office staff members to alternate working from home to maintain social distancing. In the field, they continue to provide their staff with PPE and follow universal precautions.
Just like all other businesses we’ve spoken to, what Paula misses most is face-to-face networking with colleagues and making new connections. Her plan is to continue to offer work-from-home options when appropriate and support her field staff with safe options to provide services to their patients.
Alicia Wagner- Fowl & Fodder Downtown
Alicia Wagner, owner of Fowl & Fodder, a company dedicated to restaurant, catering and event space offerings has seen a great shift in her business due to Covid-19. They’ve been shut down for seven weeks on the stay-at-home order. Unfortunately, downtown does not have a large residential backbone at this time so businesses and restaurants have struggled to a greater degree. Many have needed to close at this time!
In order to work with the changes Covid-19 has brought, Fowl & Fodder has opened as an online grocery store (The 4-1-DINE Market) to help patrons get food and toiletries during the stay at home order. They have also started The Community Care Fund in partnership with Mosaic Ministries by raising over $70,000 to get nonperishables, toiletries and premade meals to individuals and families in need throughout the 419. They’ve enhanced their delivery services in order to reach more people who need their services and products in the Toledo area.
Alicia misses the people the most! When she drives downtown these days to drop things off at the restaurant, she encounters a ghost town. She acknowledges that it’s the people who truly make a difference in the building of a city. She is lucky enough to have amazing people and patrons in the 419. She truly missed talking to them and seeing everyone’s gifts and talents come together to make downtown what it is. #ToledoStrong.
Christie McKenzie- Supplemental Staffing
Christie McKenzie is the Vice President of Supplemental Staffing, a company focused on providing quality employment solutions to businesses and people in our area. Before Covid-19, they did everything from walk-in interviews to visiting clients, in-person. When the pandemic quickly shut everything down, they had to figure out new ways to keep their company running. As a way to learn quickly and brainstorm, they listened to governmental briefings and consulted with their legal team every day. They quickly began to make changes to fill both the needs of the clients and employees as well as communicating with everyone via social media, text, emails, FaceTime, Google Meetings, and more. There was also around the clock sanitizing in their offices, but above all else, they made sure to stay calm and positive. The ultimate goal was to give everyone hope and to not close their doors, but instead, change the way people entered them.
The people who work at Supplemental Staffing are “people” people, so it’s been hard to not have in-person interviews and client visits! Going forward with Ohio starting to re-open, they plan to keep with the focus they had before: connecting local businesses to extraordinary employees! It may have a new, creative twist, but they’re committed to staying on track.