The Business Pivot: T-Shirts for a Cause, Virtual Open Mic Nights and At-Home Wedding Gowns

The Business Pivot Logo The 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.

 

TEXTEIJL

David van Eijl, Owner

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

van Eijl: We are a small, family run business and like other small businesses in the area, we are feeling the economic strain of the pandemic. The stay at home orders started at the beginning of what was (traditionally) our busiest time of year, so we are losing out on a lot of revenue that sustains our business throughout the year.

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

van Eijl: I am feeling it. Our shop prints apparel for sporting events, corporate events, restaurant staff shirts etc., all of which are shut down. We would normally be running 4 to 6 presses daily during this time of year with 8 to 12 employees. We are running a handful of small jobs a week. With all that equipment sitting idle, we decided to start the “United We Stand 6 Feet Apart” shirt campaign to help other small businesses during this time. We cover the costs of the shirt out of the sale and donate the remainder to The Collider Foundation to be given out as small business microgrants. These grants are going to pay an electric bill, help with a rent cost, etc. They are specifically targeted at brick and mortar businesses that have a greater risk of going under due to overhead costs.

We understand the stresses a business owner has and the extra hardships they go through, so it was important to us to find a way to help them, even in a small way. These small businesses enrich our community and we need them to survive through this pandemic.

DMC: As you navigate uncertainty, what inspires you?

van Eijl: Everyday, I see how others are jumping in and helping others in many ways, whether it is in the form of social media sharing, or going out of one’s way to support local by ordering take out or dropping off supplies at one of the local nonprofits for our vulnerable population, that makes me feel great about being a part of this community.

View a video of the “United We Stand 6 Feet Apart” shirts being printed:

Rochester Art Center

Amy Garretson, Education and Community Outreach Manager

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

Garretson: As a gathering place for the community, Rochester Art Center and other cultural organizations had to temporarily close our doors to the public. This action, in the interest of safety and public health, means rethinking how we connect people to the Arts.

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

Garretson: We immediately wanted to continue some of our most popular programs, and switched temporarily to an online format. RAC Open Mic is a great example of this. We retained audience members even though it switched from an in-person event to an online event. Our next open mic will be held online via Zoom, May 7th at 7:00 PM. Performers and audience members can find more information on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/972988479768390/

DMC: As you navigate uncertainty, what inspires you?

Garretson: I am inspired by others in the Arts and cultural sector who know that access to the Arts helps heal the spirit in good times and in challenging times. I am also inspired by Rochester’s healthcare professionals, who heal the body, and are leading the way forward in this crisis. We are currently planning an exhibition of portraits, pairing local heroes with local artists. Nominations are open until May 4th, and more information can be found on our website.

Finery Bridal Chic

Claire Landgraf, Owner

Photo by Twelve Ten Photography

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

Landgraf: Because shopping for a bridal gown is such an intimate experience (both in emotion and the close proximity that a bridal stylist and a bride must have during an appointment), COVID-19 has prevented Finery from participating in a curbside pickup pivot of my business.  Additionally, there is some extra emotion surrounding weddings that have either been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.

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

Photo by Twelve Ten Photography

Landgraf: We developed an at home try-on concept that brides can take advantage of if they still want to shop for a gown while practicing social distancing.  Brides can select up to five gowns from Finery which are then packaged and prepared for a curbside pickup.  Once home, we navigate through the try-on process via a Zoom or FaceTime call so a bride can ask any questions they may have.  This has been a great way for brides who have late Fall or early 2020 weddings to shore up gown buying.

DMC: As you navigate uncertainty, what inspires you?

Landgraf: As trite as it sounds, my brides inspire me!  We’ve heard it a ton of times throughout this pandemic but love isn’t cancelled…and I love seeing my brides and their partners adapt and pivot their love stories to fit this unprecedented time.

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