Pivot took on a whole new meaning last year.
Businesses are closing stores nationwide, and those remaining in survival mode are hoping to hold out well enough until customers come back.
Limited to 25% capacity, some are now slowly starting to reopen their doors.
For local business owners like Lorenzo Griffin, opportunity comes in a different way, and he expects it to continue.
“When the governor closed barbershops and salons three times in the last 12 months, it affected us exponentially. It literally shut us down, but we are survivors and “I am prosperous,” he said.
He and his wife run a specialty hair care company that sells exclusively to black hair salons and barbers. At some point they realized they needed to think quickly and redirect resources. They have moved to an online model with webinars to sell to clients.
He said he had just purchased a suite in the building at the Orange Show and Arrowhead in 2019 and contracted COVID-19 just four months later.
“We turn lemons into lemonade and keep moving,” he said.
The only support they received from government agencies was the Small Business Administration. This resulted in their location closing again after paying off half the mortgage for about 6 months and paying off another half for 2 months.
Their bank lenders have also deferred mortgage payments and added to the back end.
Other than that, he said, the way they do business is mostly creative.
“We used to do seminars in big hotels in Ontario. You have to pay 125 stylists to get an education, but now we do webinars. I have to keep it,” he said.
As an industry, he points to a global revenue outlook report that hair, weaves and wigs will draw about $10 billion annually over the five years to 2023. About 70% of that spending comes from the black community.
Griffin, who launched the Laran product line just before the last Great Recession in 2008, has been through some rough times before. Since then, they’ve expanded with multiple sources of income across several western states.
His business model has helped keep Black Dollar in the community, and stylists have benefited, he said.
He also has other timely advice. His business saw sales drop by about 20% last year, but he’s taking a close look at his spending and cutting fat to cut it by 30%. I found a place where I could cut back. There is still room for about 10% earnings volatility.
The trick is to stick to your budget. That’s how he was raised.
“That’s basically what they have to do. You’re talking to young people who grew up on the project,” he said. “We know how to survive a little bit if need be. We’re pretty frugal, no flashy or flashy cars.”
Sixth Ward Council member Kim Calvin said he contacted the city for information on small business assistance programs and micro business loans.
“Currently, we do not have direct control over the funds. However, the City of San Bernardino will provide information to all small businesses that may receive assistance through the San Bernardino County COVID-19 RELIEF website. Nonprofits are also welcome to apply.During these difficult times, it is imperative that all COVID-19 assistance is available to community members. We encourage all community members to shop locally to support our small businesses,” she said in an email.
Recently, the Newsom administration announced four new funding rounds for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. New grant rounds are available from $5 to $25,000.
Newsom’s administration also recently announced that Tara Lynn Gray will head the California Office of Small Business Advocates (CalOSBA).
Jay King, president and CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce in California, said: “Tara is an unparalleled advocate and she is very well positioned for this new role. Her dedication to all small business owners in California demonstrates that inclusion and equity are our It will ensure that it remains a cornerstone of economic recovery.”
For additional resources, see:
To support Laran black hair products, please visit:
City Councilman Calvin recommends business owners make sure they:
At the county level,
At the state level, learn more about available grants and deadlines through the Office of the Small Business Advocate. https://careliefgrant.com/