At Hatch, we support small businesses that are getting started. We believe the work of building a business from scratch and making an impact on the economy is incredibly important, so that’s why we started The Hatch Small Business Spotlight where we tell our customer’s stories and discuss their experiences as entrepreneurs.
LaShondra White is the founder and operator of Sheer Faces, LLC, a licensed cosmetology studio in Detroit Michigan. The studio specializes in lash care and extensions, and improving natural lash health. Like most businesses, especially those in the salon industry, Sheer Faces has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We had the privilege of speaking with LaShondra about her journey, her mindset, and her strategies to stay afloat right now.
Not Her First Rodeo
LaShondra has been a licensed cosmetologist for two years, and finished her additional classes and certifications for lash care earlier in 2020.
Within days of certification, “everything got shut down due to COVID-19” Lashondra said. She was concerned, but unflapped. “This was not my first time running a business in an economic downturn.”
“Back in the early 2000s, I owned two seperate cleaning companies-- franchise branches. Franchises are nice, because they help secure clients for you in addition to you attracting your own. But after 9/11, business slowed to a trickle.” It might be hard for us all to remember now, scrambling to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but after the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, the United States went into a real economic slump. “We used to clean a lot of commercial buildings,” noted LaShondea. “And when times are hard, the first thing a business will cut is the cleaning crew. We eventually got cut from so many buildings, our business folded.”
“So, when Covid came along, I thought ‘ok, I got through one crisis, I can get through this.’ I felt like I had the ability to prepare a little. I see people complain about it online, and I really feel it. I know what it's like to be the one responsible for putting food on your family’s table. I used to think I wasn't good enough, I wasn't doing enough. I wanted to jump off a bridge. It took me a while to get my finances back, and get to the point where I am now, and now I'm freer about sharing my story. I want to share it, because I know other people are struggling and don't want to say it. So I want to share it for them.”
What Comes Next
LaShondra has pivoted her business in light of the pandemic, but she is not giving up. In fact, she is finding the silver lining. “At one time, I wanted my lash studio to become a franchise. ButI am putting that off for now, it just feels too risky. I’m just keeping my one studio and my clients for now. This moment has actually allowed me to get in some much needed training, to take classes, and learn more about the lash business. I really needed this time, actually. I know for some people, they are struggling, but I have to admit this downtime this time has been good for me to focus on what comes next.”
The question of what comes next is one many businesses are finding innovative ways to answer. Like many businesses who hadn’t had much of an online presence before the pandemic, Sheer Faces is going digital. “I eventually want to build a digital storefront, instead of investing in a larger retail space. I’ll still keep my lash studio and my clients of course, but I want to sell more online. In terms of hiring for the growth employees, if I did get employees, I would like to keep my business in the family. I have adult children and they may be in a position where we work together. I have found working with friends can be too risky, in general, there’s just too much of your personal life at stake. But family is family. I might hire 1-2 other people, for social media and PR. Social media is OK, but PR can be really time consuming and overwhelming with everything else you have to do when you own a business. I might hire out for help in shipping and stocking, as well, but we’ll see.”
Many businesses have struggled to obtain advice from their local and state governments about what rules they need to follow, in part because rules and mandates are constantly changing in light of incoming information about a pandemic that gave us little time to prepare, and about which we learn more and more about every day.
“I'm still a little bit worried, “ reflected LaShondra. “I do lash extensions, you know? It’s a high physical contact business. But I’ve been keeping in touch with the government, in order to stay prepared. A few months ago, I reached out to the Michigan cosmetology licensing board. And I basically said, ‘wherever we [salons] fit into this 6 phase plan, I don't want to be struggling because I don’t know when I can re-open or when I’m getting the PPP loan.’ The rep from the board told me (via email) that it’s likely that keeping my work in my salon will be best, and will keep me from getting shut down. They sense home-based people may be forced to go into a salon for safety reasons. And I know tons of people, licensed people, who do services out of their homes. Whether you already have a salon space, or need to get one, we all need to prepare.”
“So, while I've spent the last 2-3 weeks getting certifications, I've also been getting my PPE equipment-- trying not to hoard, of course, but so that when they say we can open, I am ready to have clients and keep them safe and comfortable. The big outbreak in LA, I heard someone traced it back to a nail salon. It didn’t shock me at all. Salons have a big responsibility to be careful right now. That’s why I’m preparing and educating myself.”
“This whole moment has taught me so much. I've been furloughed before, I've lost business before. My heart goes out to people who are feeling that, to the struggling business owners right now. I don't ever want to go back there again. I’m looking forward to what’s next.”
At Hatch, we offer small business owners something that no other lending company does: a fresh start and the benefit of the doubt. We extend a line of credit (up to $5,000) to business owners who are just starting out, without requiring a previous business history or a great credit score. Click here to learn more about applying for your Hatch Card today!
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