Like many small, “Main Street” businesses throughout the state, Kate Volarath, owner of Salon Anovin in Carpentersville was forced to shut down abruptly in mid-March by the COVID-19 pandemic. A native of Laos who had come to the US with her parents and six siblings as refugees in 1983, Volarath grew up in the Chicago area and later pursued a career in the beauty industry before opening her own full-service hair and nail salon in 2009. Featuring a high-end experience in soothing surroundings, the salon has repeatedly been singled out for Reader’s Choice awards and Best Of accolades in local media.

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In addition to beauty services, Volarath, who recently remodeled the salon, also hosted monthly get-togethers open to the community and conducted twice-weekly instructional workshops for aspiring stylists and aestheticians. 

COVID-19 brought business to a screeching halt, forcing Volarath to close her doors and furlough her entire staff of 10 employees. For Volarath, reopening was never in question; it wasn’t if, but when. 

Volarath employed three main strategies to keep her business alive:

  • Added an online store on her website to sell products and provided curbside pick-up for orders.
  • Appealed to her loyal customers to “pay it forward” and donate what they would have spent on their next visit to a relief fund for her employees.
  • Applied for a PPP federal loan, as well as smaller grants. She was fortunate to be one of 25 women-led small businesses (out of more than 900 applicants nationwide) selected to receive a $10,000 grant from GingerBread Capital, a venture capital fund focused on supporting women founders. The grant allowed her to replenish her inventory and help two of her employees who didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits.

Volarath also continued conducting educational workshops via Zoom. While not as effective as in-person instruction, the virtual workshops sustained a sense of community and camaraderie between her staff and students and boosted morale during a difficult and isolating time. 

Since re-opening in late June, Volarath has implemented strict social distancing and health guidelines for her staff and clients that will ensure her salon can continue to operate and thrive during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

Relevant Financial Resources

Grants and low-interest loans can provide relief for small businesses and keep them operating for the short-term. Here are a few resources that can help you understand how to find and apply for the financial support that’s right for your business. 

Finding the right financing is crucial for the survival of any small business. Yet the landscape is shifting rapidly, and permanently, as the coronavirus pandemic is forcing all types of businesses to adopt digital marketing tactics to interact with their stakeholders — from their employees to their suppliers to their customers. In the next section, we examine three key trends that will determine the future success or failure for businesses operating in the new “new normal.”