7 Female Business Owners Pivoting to Survive and Thrive during Covid

The Covid landscape has tested businesses both large and small. While some businesses take this lockdown time to take a step back and breath, others are getting creative to connect with their customers, pivoting for new revenue streams or even giving back to their communities. 

Each time we enter an unexpected lockdown, businesses need to comply with changing regulations and yet somehow, still see the light and an opportunity to be creative. 

As a business owner, its inspiring to see and a relief to connect with these 7 other female led businesses. We really wanted to take a moment to highlight these inspiring women in the hopes that they might help another small business owner or connect a new customer to their gorgeous work. 

From Pilates Studios, to Foodies, Designers to social media planners...they all have a unique business model each with its own challenges and opportunities at this time. 

The connecting thread with each? The commitment and care they take with their customers and resilience to not only survive but thrive during a global pandemic.  

Caitlin Crisp

What is your business name and what do you do?

Caitlin Crisp - I am designer, founder, everything-girl!

How has Covid affected your primary business?

Two parts - on the front end, our sales are online and through retailers, both of which require postage which unfortunately we can't use during level 4! On the back end, our factories in NZ also can't work which means our deliveries are delayed and no product can be made at this time.

How have you pivoted and why? 

We're lucky in the stage of production we're in, there is a lot of work that can be done from home at the moment. My production manager is working on next season's specification sheets, lookbooks and linesheets. Laura and I are working on getting ready for sales for next season. This is all as normal but in the down time I am making time to connect more with our customers through email and social media. I think that connection and appreciation for the people that support you is always important and when you have extra time it's those people that you should be investing that time back into!

How has Covid changed you as a business owner? 

I don't think it has necessarily changed me, it just brings out different skills at different times. I'm always on the go and looking at what more we can do and how we can do things differently/better. Covid and the lockdowns just steer us in different directions and we adapt accordingly. It's shown me how much I appreciate my girls and how strong we are as a team.

What are you doing to Take care of yourself?

Having fun!! There's only so much I can do and control in this situation so I am prioritising doing things that bring me joy such as "creative sewing" (sewing without any real need or point to it) and getting lots of sunshine. It's been very special doing lockdown with my boyfriend as we don't usually get much time together with him working in Hamilton and myself in Auckland- we're having a blast!

Layla Kaisi Collection

What is your business name and what do you do?

Layla Kaisi Collection. We are storytellers, speaking through the medium of bespoke fine jewellery. Designing pieces you will not find anywhere else, we invite you to explore a personal narrative you can physically wear using precious stones and metals. 

How has Covid affected your primary business?

Covid creates a climate of fear, our business requires our clients to have time to sit down and consider their fine jewellery pieces and design direction, fear makes that a little bit harder; so whilst our clients pause, we take a pause as well. 

How have you pivoted and why? 

We have started to focus more on tasks that make remote design and operation easier, the future is online and we want to spearhead this. We want to make bespoke fine jewellery design easy whether you are in the room with us, or halfway across the world so building on this is our biggest focus right now. 

How has Covid changed you as a business owner? 

It has allowed me to be a lot more resilient and certain in my direction even in an uncertain climate. The level of self-belief and vision has to be so strong to know that you can make it through no matter what

What are you doing to Take care of yourself?

I have taken up drawing for fun again - I have not done this for 10 years. I have also allowed myself to process through the fear and associated emotions without pushing them away. You must acknowledge the feeling, then let it pass just as easily. 

 

PilatesFIT Boutique

What is your business name and what do you do?

I’m Chelsea from pilatesFIT Boutique - We are a premium Pilates based fitness studio.

How has Covid affected your primary business?

We have to close the studio during level 3 & 4 so there’s a huge impact here. It impacts massively during and after as clients are usually prepaid - it’s a ripple effect.

How have you pivoted and why? 

During the first lockdown we moved to offering Zoom classes daily to keep us afloat. We then continued to grow our online offering over the last 12 months as I saw potential with not knowing how long lockdowns would go on for. It’s something I’ve been forced into doing after a few years of wanting to and now we have got a full Online workout hub from our website which we started in December and have continued to upgrade it to the site it is today.  

How has Covid changed you as a business owner? 

I don’t know if I’d say it’s changed me as a business owner but It’s definitely made me realise even more how determined & driven I am. It would be very easy to throw my hands in the air and say it’s too hard and some days I have felt that way but I love it too much. I see potential everywhere within my business and this has highlighted and pushed me out of my comfort zone especially with making the call to relocate and expand our studio amongst a pandemic.

What are you doing to Take care of yourself?

Right now - Daily walks, workouts and switching off from the noise of the media each day. I’m also making sure I stay connected with some close friends / other business owners - that helps me to stay sane so I see it as taking care of myself.  

The Two Raw Sisters

What is your business name and what do you do?

Hello! Rosa and Margo here aka. The Two Raw Sisters. Our mission is to inspire, motivate and educate people on the benefits of plant-based eating and create healthy, happy and sustainable lifestyles.
We build delicious meals starting with your vegetables, unprocessed, raw, whole food and pantry staples, then adding the meat, poultry or fish on the side, if you choose. We welcome all eaters into our kitchen.

How has Covid affected your primary business?

We have been very fortunate in having launched our App about 4 weeks ago, so lockdown has actually been amazing for that! We are in a situation where we are forced to cook and people are going straight to our app to find healthy, easy, affordable recipes that their whole bubble will enjoy. During these times our health and wellbeing are at the top of many of our priorities so having recipes on hand that are using whole unprocessed ingredients is exactly what the majority of individuals are after. 

In terms of our workshops/ talks/ private events we are unable to do those during Level 3 & 4 but where we can we have been moving them online and doing the workshops live out of our home kitchens. Our clients and followers have been amazingly supportive and we are hugely appreciative of that. 

How have you pivoted and why? 

Our plan as a business was to move majority of what we do online and all this has happened more swiftly than we originally thought due to Covid. The App is now a big part of our business and you will always find us on our social channels giving meal inspiration, having a laugh, getting creative in our kitchen or teasing you with some drooling food porn!

Lockdown is a time where people are finding things to do for themselves and ways to keep their kids entertained. So we are always coming up with ideas on what we can give our community to do,  how we can educate and inspire them to cook easy healthy food in a stress less fun way!

How has Covid changed you as a business owner?

Covid has definitely made us more open and flexible to change, in turn building our resilience as individuals and as a business. Covid can be terrifying and upsetting. Events you have planned months for all of a sudden can’t go ahead, you fear for your business financially and the unknown of when this will come to an end. 

For a while we were scared of planning things in advance as we had this attitude that it probably won't go ahead. Flipping thoughts like this around and making Plan A & B is what we revert to now. We all know things can change rapidly and we need to be prepared to adapt to whatever those may be. 

What are you doing to Take care of yourself?

Eating well and moving the body are some of our essential ways of taking care of ourselves no matter where we are. We love getting outside and moving our body. How we do that depends on how we are feeling but it can range from running, walking, restorative or dynamic yoga, pilates or a HIIT workout. 

The Bold One

What is your business name and what do you do?

Born in 2020 Lockdown, The Bold One is a made-to-order NZ fashion label where we have a focus on crafting well made linen garments. Customers choose a Bold One style, then select from a list of customisations we offer (Colour, Length, sleeve type, neckline), it is then made to their measurements right here in NZ. My main aim is to make sustainable fashion desirable and accessible! We are also building up our rental closet which is exciting. 

How has Covid affected your primary business?

Essentially, it is at a stand still. We are unable to post between the stages of the craft (fabric to cutters, cut pieces to sewers etc). However, one positive is that due to the nature of the slow and considerate business model TBO has, I am lucky my customers are extremely patient already! 

How have you pivoted and why? 

My moto is that there is always a way to overcome and adapt. My usual Made-to-order / rental garments are not what my audience want or need right now. So, I am currently promoting and working behind the scenes on 'The Bold One Workshop'. This will consist of downloadable TBO sewing patterns + tutorials so they can pick themselves up off the couch and dance around the house in their very own Bold One piece made by them. 

How has Covid changed you as a business owner? 

Well, it made me a business owner! I honestly have the first Covid Lockdown to thank for giving me that push to put my designs out there. I had no other option to support myself, and I am grateful for all my customers' support in such an unsure time. So I guess it has solidified for me that there is always good to be found in any situation. I used to get somewhat flustered when something rocked the boat before these times, but now I stay calm as I know there will be a way to overcome the situation, even if I don't know what it is right in the moment. 

What are you doing to Take care of yourself?

Baking, board games, and walks with my flatmates. Also feel VERY fortunate to spend quality time with my partner’s and my gorgeous Golden Retriever Puppy Jeffrey. You might just see him featured every now and then on @theboldone_ insta 

Just Jess Boujee Bakery

What is your business name and what do you do?

Just Jess Boujee Bakery - we make delicious donuts, cakes and treats, and decorate them extra asf. We believe special treats should look just as epic as they taste, so not only are our donuts the fluffiest, but they're definitely the boujiest on the block. We strongly believe that a party without a cake, is just a meeting and our food makes the world (or our community at least ) a better place.

How has Covid affected your primary business?

Sudden lockdowns have meant that we are left with freshly baked goods and no one to sell them to, and a whole bunch of wasted ingredients. It's slowed our growth plans and definitely added a little extra stress to my life. It's made it difficult to forward plan too many large financial investments to scale business, and rethink how the world may be operating for our industry moving forward. 

How have you pivoted and why? 

We were already a 'made to order' business but this was a very manual process with clients. Because of Covid, we have built an entire range of online store products which is now a constant, and helps hugely with our sales in and out of lockdowns. It's streamlined the ordering process. Also, during lockdowns when unable to sell, we used this as a major opportunity to grow our online audience by providing them with more value by way of recipes. This gave people an activity to do in lockdown, as well as allowing a wider audience around NZ where I cannot generally get fresh food to, to have a taste of Just Jess treats.

How has Covid changed you as a business owner? 

It's made me more cautious, for sure, but at the same time allowed me huge growth in the way I do my business, it's challenged me to re think traditional selling methods, and triggered new ideas for a Covid world. I've got new products in planning that would be accessible to more people via ecommerce. As stressful as these times are, it's all about adapting, and that's something I thrive on.

What are you doing to Take care of yourself?

Baking, duh! Funnily enough, even though I do it as a job, I love to bake during lockdown. Making different things that I usually don't at work. My main love language is Acts of Service, so this is how I show people my love, baking for my bubble! Im also making sure to move my body daily with a walk or workout, take care of my skin with time each day for skincare. Face timing my friends and family, drinking a LOT of tea and coffee (and the odd wine!) And ticking off some jobs that have been on my to do list for WAY too long is also a form of self care for me!

Sarah Airey Co

What is your business name and what do you do?

I’m a product based business coach! I help product based business owners with their Instagram content and marketing. I’m in love with the ecommerce world - while at business school I launched my first business (handmade jewellery dishes), and near the start of this year I launched a limited edition apparel line called Makers Club.

How has Covid affected your primary business?

Aside from hefty production delays with my apparel line, I feel so blessed to still be able to work over this time. With my clients/community being product based and also experiencing delays/being forced to close; my focus has been helping them through.

How have you pivoted and why? 

When covid first hit last year, there was a lot of uncertainty. No one had ever dealt with anything like this before and the impact on small businesses was huge. I made sure to hold regular free trainings for my community. I’ve also leaned more heavily into creating courses, as the self-study nature lends itself so well to this climate. 

How has Covid changed you as a business owner? 

It’s shown me that while things may not end up working out as we initially envisioned; there’s always a solution. I truly believe that. For example, one of my clients used to solely rely on wholesale, but through covid she pivoted to doing ecommerce as well. Thanks to this pivot, her business is absolutely booming.

Having the grit to adapt and find solutions rather than throwing in the towel is what owning a business is all about. 

What are you doing to Take care of yourself?

Early nights and daily walks are good for the soul. Oh, and cookies.

A Note from TCO

We hope you found a little bit of hope or inspiration from these amazing women. As business owners, we're all in this situation  together, rapidly changing and a little bit nerve-racking. But i'm sure you'll be able to see, each of these business owners have allowed themselves the space to think strategically and creatively. When forced into situations like this, more often than not people rise to the occasion and these amazing businesses are a perfect example of this. 
Let us know in the comments below how you're pivoting to thrive in our Covid world! 
Take Care,
Olivia & The TCO Girls x

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