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Amid coronavirus, small business owners should be ready to pivot


My friend Tara Reed is both a great artist and a savvy businesswoman. That’s no small task, as the term “starving artist” is a thing for a reason: We all know someone who is more comfortable with creative endeavors than running a business.

That’s not Reed. She has succeeded because, among other things, she knows how to pivot – which might be what you need to do right now.

Like any good entrepreneur, Reed has a few different profit centers:

• On her busy Etsy shop, she bundles and sells her digital art and files to crafters.

• On her website (www.TaraReed.com), she not only promotes patterns that she designs, but she also licenses those designs to manufacturers who use them for products sold in stores like Home Goods.

Reed has a new fabric collection shipping this month, and as part of that, she gets a free bolt of each of the 12 designs in the line for her use in promoting the collection. But as you can imagine, promoting a new line of fabric is no easy task right now as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the country.

And then it hit her.

Reed saw a video about how to sew face masks, desperately needed in her Portland, Oregon, community like so many others. Given that she had a lot of fabric on hand, she got to work.

Not only was this a chance to give back, and not only is sewing “therapeutic,” but from a business perspective, this was also a chance to showcase her fabric in a unique way.

A worker of the state-owned Concepcion Palacios Maternity Hospital manufactures face masks in Caracas, Venezuela, March 17, 2020. Workers of the city's main maternity are preparing makeshift masks with disposable blue sheets to distribute to medical staff and other workers of the health center for protection of an eventual spread of the COVID-19 illness.

While these are not the N95 masks doctors and nurses need, cloth masks are still needed by home health care clinicians, physical therapists and others who are in contact with patients.

Reed has sewn and given away for free more than 100 masks and has also posted free directions and a PDF at her site so others who want to help can make masks.



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