September 29, 2022

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Business is my step

How an L.A. indie bookstore’s GoFundMe motivated a small small business lifeline

5 min read

On a Tuesday morning in September, Raymond Wurwand was in his Southern California home sipping tea and looking through the newspaper when he happened on a story about battling independent bookstores. The print headline read through: “Backbone-tingling bookstore woes: Some retailers, together with Diesel, are turning to fundraising to survive. Shelve 2020 as horror.”

a group of people sitting at a table: Jane and Raymond Wurwand at a local restaurant. The Dermalogica owners have committed $1 million in grant support to L.A. small businesses struggling due to the pandemic. (Lucy Wurwand)

© (Lucy Wurwand)
Jane and Raymond Wurwand at a neighborhood restaurant. The Dermalogica homeowners have fully commited $1 million in grant aid to L.A. small companies struggling due to the pandemic. (Lucy Wurwand)

He turned to his spouse, Jane Wurwand, and claimed: “We’ve obtained to do one thing.”


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In partnership with Pacific Neighborhood Ventures and TMC Local community Cash, the entrepreneurs of pores and skin-care business Dermalogica resolved to launch Identified/L.A. Modest Enterprise Recovery Fund, a $1-million grant application to aid modest minority-owned enterprises in Los Angeles County stay open up in the course of the pandemic. Among the eligibility specifications: Applicants will have to individual at the very least 50% of a brick-and-mortar store, hire fewer than 20 people today, and supply evidence of profitability right before the pandemic. The Wurwands acquired 2,430 purposes for the 1st round of grants — from dining establishments, salons and cafes as perfectly as gyms, retail retailers and working day-treatment facilities. 10 have been randomly picked. Applications for the next cycle open Jan. 11.

“We created Dermalogica by means of offering to smaller salons, so we developed our small business by means of marketing to tiny business owners who have been devastated by COVID-19,” mentioned Jane in a the latest Zoom job interview. “So as we read through the piece, we understood that could’ve been our story, but we’ve been exceptionally lucky. Our salons have been precisely like Diesel,” she explained. Diesel, a Bookstore, with areas in Del Mar and Brentwood, is a person of numerous companies that have produced community pleas for guidance. “Which is who employs the neighborhood.”

The longtime philanthropists commonly present minority organizations micro-loans by their Wurwand Foundation, but Diesel’s pandemic battle set into sharp concentration the have to have for immediate, no-strings guidance — some little corporations just cannot on any much more financial debt.

Some 7,500 businesses in L.A. have completely shut due to the fact March 1, in accordance to a community economic effect report posted by Yelp in September — the largest amount of closures in any U.S. metropolitan place. Outlets and dining establishments depict the bulk of closures, with owners of shade disproportionally affected. A university examine released in May uncovered that 41% of Black-owned businesses across the region shut down amongst February and April. The number of stores owned by Latinos, Asians, immigrants and ladies dropped 32%, 26%, 36% and 25%, respectively.

These closures are what be concerned Jane Wurwand. “The thing I am fearful the most of right after this is, when we carry our heads and glimpse close to our communities and neighborhoods, I believe we’re going to see a whole lot missing, and we have to rebuild our most important streets in our neighborhoods due to the fact usually we just really don’t have a place of connection,” she reported. “I want to live in close proximity to the area bookstore and the local salon. I do not want to stay following doorway to the Amazon warehouse.”

Just one new beneficiary, Rice and Noodle, has been holding on by a thread this year.

Lunch product sales at the little Thai and Vietnamese restaurant fell by extra than 60% soon after places of work in the location closed. Owner Kwan Chotikulthanachai, 43, was compelled to lay off all her staff. She has not been able to spend full lease considering that Might, and she failed to qualify for Paycheck Defense Application or economic injury disaster financial loans. Cleaning and sanitizing supplies have included additional expenses. But with her associate and chef, Son Ongjampa, she’s managed to hold on, her 8-year-outdated son, Hugo, and 6-thirty day period-old infant, Ethan, at her aspect.

When she observed out Monday evening via e mail that she would obtain a $5,000 grant, she cried.

“I was so happy,” Chotikulthanachai mentioned tearfully in a telephone job interview Wednesday. “It is like I gained the lottery.” Hugo joyously jumped and screamed. She identified as her mom in Thailand — who cried, as well.

a person standing in front of a brick building: Kwan Chotikulthanachai, left, inside Rice and Noodle with her family. (Curtis Dunwoody)

© (Curtis Dunwoody)
Kwan Chotikulthanachai, remaining, inside of Rice and Noodle with her loved ones. (Curtis Dunwoody)

“I am functioning so difficult,” she stated. “This time has been very complicated, but I can not give up. I you should not want to shut my restaurant.”

Proudly owning a organization has been a desire for Chotikulthanachai. She grew up in the restaurant entire world in Bangkok, wherever her mom ran her have put. She opened Rice and Noodle in 2018 with the aid of relatives, and hopes someday to hand it down to her son. “I can not enable my family are unsuccessful with me.”

Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo also sighed with relief this week. The owner of U-Frame-It Gallery, a customized frame shop with spots in Tarzana and North Hollywood, closed her keep for 4 months at the start off of the pandemic. Revenue dropped up to 50% just after motion picture and tv studios shut down, stripping her of a dependable source of revenue. She gained PPP and Little Business enterprise Administration financial loans, but the latter money was sent to the completely wrong man or woman she will not have the resources, but she’s acquiring invoiced for payments.

Through it all, she retained her staff members on the payroll, developing cupboards, tables and other pieces to organize the retail outlet whilst the doorways remained closed to the general public.

Cruz-Ocampo, 55, held functioning, also, irrespective of fears of contracting the virus. She has scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder that makes her susceptible to extreme issues from COVID-19.

a person standing in front of a building: Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo inside her framing business, U-Frame-It Gallery. (Jennifer Daigle)

© (Jennifer Daigle)
Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo within her framing enterprise, U-Frame-It Gallery. (Jennifer Daigle)

On Tuesday early morning, even though she was obtaining all set for do the job in the lavatory of her Northridge household, Cruz-Ocampo opened an e-mail: “Congratulations on the L.A. Small Business Restoration Fund,” it read. “U-Body-It Inc. has been awarded a Found/LA Recovery Grant for the quantity of $22,500.”

She screamed.

“I’ve been driving on hire, and this will help me keep my workforce,” she claimed in a cell phone interview. “This is like a bridge, a lifeline, to get by a quite, really really hard year. This is a blessing.”

Cruz-Ocampo remaining Colombia for the U.S. with her household when she was 9. Just after getting her associate’s degree in business enterprise administration from Pierce Faculty, she purchased the body store in the 1980s with personal savings and a company personal loan. She opened a 2nd locale in Tarzana in 2000.

“It truly is like a Christmas present, a big Christmas current,” said Cruz-Ocampo. “It makes me experience some thing very good about this Xmas. As terrible as it is been, it is ending truly properly.”

This tale initially appeared in Los Angeles Periods.

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