The Business Pivot: Bottled coffee, custom framing, and hand-painted jackets

The Business Pivot LogoThe Business Pivot, a blog series from Destination Medical Center (DMC), features local small businesses that are pivoting not just to survive, but to thrive in the current economic environment. These businesses are helping Southeast Minnesota continue to access products and services while also making a difference in the community.

 

 

Cafe Steam

William Forsman, Co-Owner/General Manager

DMC: What challenges are you facing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Forsman: The challenges seem somewhat enumerable and increasing with each day. The largest of these include forecasting our own financial health while trying to interpret economic relief in such a way as to be using it to our best benefit, while the guidelines for how it should be spent are a constantly moving target.

DMC: How is your business responding to those challenges and innovating?

Forsman: Accessing our already existing customer base in a different online and delivery-based market. We are known as a community hub; a space where people can congregate and join in the sharing of ideas and culture. Without that, we rest the identity of our company on the lifestyle aspect of Cafe Steam not associated with being a gathering space. Merchandise, bottled drinks and community support emulate that lifestyle without having access to the space. With our bottling, drinks are available for delivery and enjoyment from the safety of your home. Merchandise allows customers to support the business, while wearing something that they enjoy and can feel good in, while simultaneously supporting a local non-profit (The Rochester Women’s Shelter and Support Center) with each sale of a shirt.

DMC: As you navigate uncertainty, what inspires you?

Forsman: The opportunity to do something new. There is an excitement over being able to change the way your company operates. Uncharted territory in the vacuum of crisis that affords you an excuse for inconsistency and time to develop a program or initiative while feeling supported by a community that recognizes what a difficult situation you are in.

Café Steam is the recipient of a Keep It Local, COVID-19 Innovators Grant.

Rochester Framing and Fine Art Printing

John Becker, Owner

DMC: What challenges are you facing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Becker: At Rochester Framing and Fine Art Printing we typically only had 1 or 2 customers in our shop at a time (pre-COVID-19), but we had no control of the customer flow.  This will not work in the post shelter-in-place world.

DMC: How is your business responding to those challenges and innovating?

Becker: In response, Rochester Framing is pivoting from a fixed hour retail model to an appointment only model. This will require customer education and we are working with BrandHoot to help use social media tools to educate the customers.

We see several benefits, including improved shop hygiene, better customer management flow and increased customer convenience, since they select the appointment times.

DMC: As you navigate uncertainty, what motivates you?

Becker: We like to think of ourselves as small business warriors and we roll with the punches.  9-11 was a big punch, but we bounced back from that. The economic collapse in 2008 was another big punch and we bounced back from that. This is a big punch, but we will adapt and retool as necessary, and we will bounce back, somehow, someway.

Rochester Framing and Fine Art Printing is the recipient of a Keep It Local, COVID-19 Innovators Grant.

Swoon Lash and Beauty Lounge

Kayla Fjelsted, Owner and Founder

DMC: What challenges are you facing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Fjelsted: Eyelash extensions, lash lifts, and brow shaping are a time sensitive service requiring our service to maintain. As a service-focused business, we miss our clients that we were seeing on a bi-weekly to monthly basis. Not only are we unable to provide services, we also miss our personal connections with our clients.

DMC: How is your business responding to those challenges and innovating?

Fjelsted: Once we realized the length of time we may be closed, we began offering advice on how to safely remove eyelash extensions at home. We are also shipping eyelash growth serums, conditioning mascaras, and products to keep their lashes and skin healthy while we are unable to provide services.

Most recently we’ve launched an exciting new project on Instagram called Shop Swoon! Our first launch is sweatshirts and t shirts with the quote “Kindness Isn’t Cancelled” on the back. This also matches the quote painted on our storefront window on South Broadway. We truly believe in the power of kindness, especially during these uncertain and trying times.

10% of all our proceeds for the next 3 months will be donated to Channel One Food Bank to help with their COVID-19 relief efforts.

Our next product launch will be shirts that each of our employees have designed    . 100% of all profits will go directly to support them during this closure.

DMC: As you navigate uncertainty, what inspires you?

Fjelsted: This quote by Fred Rodgers has been our inspiration since the pandemic started to affect our community. When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

The support we have gotten from employees, our clients, our landlords, and total strangers has been incredible. We are also so inspired by all of the essential workers in our community; they are all true heroes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *