We Interviewed 3 Small Businesses And How They’re Adapting To Covid

Sep 29, 2020 | Interviews

The Vintage Deli

Could you please introduce yourselves and The Vintage Deli?

Hello, we are Emma Roepke and Candice Antoine, the duo behind The Vintage Deli. We are both 21-year olds studying fashion in New York City. We have a strong love for all things vintage, jewelry, music, and food. We met our freshman year of college and have been roommates for the past three years. The Vintage Deli is a jewelry brand that is all about having fun and not taking yourself too seriously.

What’re your favourite songs right now?

Like I Want You – Giveon

All Your Yeahs – Beach House

Salt – Alex G

What’re your favourite cities and why?

New York City since it is our home and because of how inspiring it is. Candice loves a little town called Santa Margherita because it has a beautiful sea, excellent food, and lovely people. Emma loves San Francisco because of the eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture.

How would you describe your own personal style in 5 words or less?

We both have very similar styles so collectively we would say eclectic, grandma, cozy, and chic.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from all of this?

The most important thing we have learned is to not rush anything and stay true to ourselves. We have found we do best when there is no pressure to constantly design new pieces. We let it happen in an organic manner in an effort to not burn ourselves out. Everything we make is something we are proud of and would wear, listening to our gut and staying authentic has been the key to our success.

What has it been like owning a small business during Covid?

Owning a small business during Covid has been very rewarding and fulfilling. There has been the shift in society to support small businesses, so we have seen many people embrace and support us. Since there isn’t anywhere to go and life has slowed down it has allowed us to take our time and give the Vintage Deli our full attention.

Has the way you worked changed because of the pandemic? How so?

Our work has remained the same! We started The Vintage Deli right before quarantine as a creative outlet and then it slowly turned into a business throughout the course of the pandemic.

Do you have a specific process when you’re coming up with the designs?

It is a very organic process for us. We are always drawing inspiration from online and also experimenting and playing around with our beads and charms. It is a lot of trial and error. We often discuss what we are envisioning and then try to bring it to life. The use of color is vital in our designs, so we are constantly trying to come up with new color combinations.

Lastly, what’s the most rewarding thing about owning a small business and what is your proudest moment with TVD to date?

There are a few rewarding things. First is just getting to watch your own business grow. It really makes all the hard work and stress worth it. Second is seeing people wear our designs. Having people from all over the world say how much they love our designs and purchasing from us is so fulfilling. We would not be where we are or have the opportunity to dive into larger projects if it wasn’t for all of our followers and the people who have purchased from us.

 Our proudest moment is currently in the works. We can’t speak much on it right now, but it is a huge project and one we did not expect. It has been a labor of love and we are so proud of it and can’t wait to announce to everyone once it launches.

1004 Studio

Could you please introduce yourself and 1004 Studio?

My name is Naomi and I’m currently a second year commerce student and owner of 1004 Studio. 1004 Studio is a brand that I created to step into business and to have my own creative outlet. Starting off with tech accessories, it is a brand that I hope to expand and grow into one that many people can enjoy. 

What’s your favourite song right now?

115 by Nafla featuring Ph-1. The lyrics are the biggest mood. 

What’s your favourite city and why?

Definitely New York City. The diverse culture, art, fashion and architecture was super inspiring, I seriously can’t wait to go back again. 

How would you describe your own personal style in 5 words or less?

Comfortable, neutral and casual. 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from all of this?

COVID has definitely helped me put life into perspective, and to be more aware and grateful of our surroundings. Prior to this, I think it was easy to take everything for granted, but as we have seen now, all it takes is a global pandemic to disrupt even the simplest of daily routines. 

What has it been like owning a small business during Covid?

I think this lockdown motivated me to make a start with my business this year as I didn’t want to be stuck feeling unproductive and unhappy. Although there are limitations due to our restrictions, I’m enjoying taking the time to build this brand and create content, which has always been a goal of mine. The biggest obstacle I faced was not being able to travel overseas and do extensive research prior to launching, however, this was just a part of the different challenges that I had to accept and overcome. Having said that, from my experience so far, I don’t particularly think that COVID has had a significant impact on running a small business. 

Has the way you worked changed because of the pandemic? How so?

Before the pandemic, I was working with a children’s accessories brand as a social media manager and creative director, where I worked from home most of the time. I’m still working with the brand and would say that my working style hasn’t changed, but since we aren’t able to organise any photoshoots a lot of our work has been put on hold. Even with 1004 Studio, there are a mountain of ideas that I had lined up, but I’ve had to think of other ways to become creative due to the ongoing lockdown in Victoria. 

How do you come up with your designs for the cases?

Currently, I’m working on phone case designs that are original to 1004 Studio that are inspired by words that promote positivity. As much as phone cases are an essential, they can also be a part of a fashion statement, so I hope that people will enjoy our upcoming designs that are both meaningful and stylish. These cases will be available soon, so please stay tuned 🙂 

Lastly, what’s the most rewarding thing about owning a small business and what is your proudest moment with 1004 Studio to date?

Owning a business has always been a goal of mine, and the level of freedom that comes with it is the most rewarding. By being able to build a brand on your own terms and learn as you go is challenging yet exciting, and a valuable experience that I am grateful for. I would say the proudest moment would be just getting started and launching our website, as this is always the most difficult part of any journey. 

Piehole

Could you please introduce yourselves and Piehole

Piehole is a small creative trio (Christina Smiros, Dean Smiros and Sasha Ganeles) based in Manhattan. Being the New Yorkers that we are, Christina and Sasha realized that to be truly accepted in the city, it was essential that masks become a seamless part of our personal style and expression. And believe us, there were no masks that could pass the test of style and substance: adjustable, comfortable, and cute. With that, Piehole was born.

We decided from the beginning to pledge 50% of profits to grassroots organizations such as food banks, BLM funds, artist relief, healthcare workers, and the restaurant industry. We’ve partnered with amazing organizations based here in NYC and other parts of the country that are working hard to support others, and we feel so lucky that our project is able to support their incredible work.

What’re your favourite songs right now?

Kyoto by Phoebe Bridgers

What’s your favourite city and why?

 We’re a bit partial to New York. We love New York. It has always been about the people. The creative entrepreneurial spirit thrives here, and we’ve noticed that a lot of people have been finding their own ways to make something beautiful out of a challenging situation, while helping their neighbors along the way. It’s inspiring to see how people are so resilient, strong, and always with a dose of that New York attitude.

How would you describe your own personal style in 5 words or less? 

Bold, versatile, and personal.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from all of this? 

Take risks and don’t wait. If you have an idea you’re passionate about go for it. If you’re interested in collaborating with someone…ask. You’d be surprised how often people are excited to say yes!

I have to ask… How did you come up with the name Piehole?

When thinking about what kind of brand we wanted to create, it was important that it was on the lighthearted side. We wanted to make it fun for people to keep their mouths (and noses!) covered — or in other words, cover their pieholes!

What has it been like owning a small business during Covid? 

We feel so lucky. Lucky to have a fulfilling and meaningful way to spend our time, and to have a community of people supporting us. It definitely has had it’s challenges… There was a period of time when we were working out of one of our team member’s studio apartment, with one sewing machine, which broke down while we had a ton of outstanding orders! And of course there’s been shipping issues and delays. But everyone has been understanding, and we’re grateful for that too.

Has the way you worked changed because of the pandemic? How so? 

Piehole came to be during the pandemic, really as a result of it. When COVID started to shut down NYC in March, we all briefly retreated to stay with our families outside the city. After a week of feeling antsy, glued to news coverage at their family home in Long Island, Christina and Dean seized upon a call for homemade masks. We saw a chance to provide regular people – our families, neighbors, and friends – with cloth masks that could keep our community safe, while freeing up more medical-grade masks for the healthcare workers who had a dire need. We wanted to make masks approachable, and normalize them so that they would be widely adopted as we all weathered the storm. 

When designing the business of Piehole, e-commerce felt like a natural way to deliver our masks in a contactless COVID conscious way. Instagram in many ways has become the mall of e-commerce, so we were happy to set up shop there as our primary way of building our community and sharing our new masks. 

Do you have a specific process when you’re coming up with the designs for masks?

Our signature design was crafted after we had been making masks with four ties for a few months. Friends and family had been complaining that the four tie style was hard to put on. But we had enjoyed that they naturally hung around the neck when not in use, and were softer on the ears. So, after some experimentation we landed on the style we sell now. 

For designs and patterns, we like to make masks that poke at the latest trends and compliment our existing wardrobes. We love a matching set, and look out for moments when our environment whether physical or online can spark inspiration and become a mask. 

Lastly, what’s the most rewarding thing about owning a small business and what is your proudest moment with Piehole to date? 

We’ve been having so much fun developing new designs that keep our growing online community engaged and excited to wear masks as a trending fashion item. Still, our proudest moments are at the end of every month when we’re able to sit down, go through our finances and donate to the various funds we support.