This interview is part of a series chatting with local business owners, artists, organizers and people in our community who are learning to adapt during COVID-19.
Angela Wildish – Vivacious Clothing and Day Spa
Describe your business.
Vivacious: lively, spirited, lighthearted, happy, full of fun, cheerful, perky, enthusiastic, vibrant, vital, energetic, dynamic and upbeat. You’ll find a relaxing environment filled with all your apparel and accessory needs. We carry sizes S – 3X with the largest selection of plus size clothing in the region. Over 70% of the clothes at Vivacious are Canadian made.
What does working from home/your workplace look like for you right now?
I was closed from March 20th to May 19th. I kept my normal routine and came to the store every day with the doors closed and locked, of course. There was lots to get done; I attended two or three webinars each week, both things related to COVID-19 and also subjects that could help build my business long term, ie a webinar from Lot 48 on how to produce your own videos.
I ramped up my social media and adapted it to being closed. I took the down time to do a total clean of the store, back room and spa. I took care of administrative work that had fallen behind as well. I was also finalizing a digital marketing project that had just started before the closure.
How have you adapted your operations during the pandemic?
I stayed very connected to my customers through social media. I shared what my day looked like, how I was doing and shared spring fashions. I do have a website and it has e-commerce capabilities. I quickly added products every day to the online portal and eventually got 180 products listed. I offered free local delivery from Brighton to Belleville; now that we have re-opened I am still offering this service.
I also supported one of my Canadian manufacturers who quickly pivoted when they had to close and started producing cotton face masks. To date, Vivacious has sold over 400 masks and donated an additional 50 masks to Quinte Health Care. With every sale of masks to the public we are donating $2 to Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation as well. I also connected this company with QHC and they have started producing gowns for [them]. The company is located in Toronto and were able to bring back all of their employees through their efforts with masks and the gown orders.
Now that we are open, it certainly is not business as usual. All of the things I put in place while closed are as important now.
How have we been supported by our community?
Trenval, the City of Quinte West, Trenton DBIA and the QW Chamber of Commerce have been amazing at listening to suggestions I have and answering all my questions. I also review the daily email updates each organization sends out. And I cannot believe how prompt they are at getting back each time.
Quinte West has also put together an Economic Recovery Task Force and I am on it representing the retail sector. Our first virtual meeting is on June 1st.
We have a great business community in Quinte West and many of us have been in contact weekly bouncing idea’s off each other and helping each other stay on top of all the government announcements and programs.
What is something good that has come out of this difficult situation?
It has taught me to really examine my business and areas [where] I am weak. I have put plans together moving forward to improve. I had received a Digital Main Street grant just before this, and I am using it to totally revamp my website and online presence and hire an SEO guru. I could not wait for this project to get completed and I did my own thing in the interim. Having the store closed while launching my old e-commerce platform was a good learning curve as to the work needed to manage both aspects of the business going forward.
What advice do you have for other business owners at this time?
You have to have the attitude that you will figure out how to make this work no matter what is thrown at you.
You have to stay connected with your customers through social media even if you are closed, and there are a lot of free webinars available to teach you how to do this. My customers were very appreciative of my daily posts and it honestly was such great mental support for me. Even though I couldn’t work with my customers every day, this kept me grounded and energized.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Even though I am open we don’t know what the next year will hold for us. July to September we take part in several local events which are no longer happening. It is time to think outside of the old box we were in and come up with new ways to generate revenue and keep everyone safe. There will be different things happening with our retail business, so stay tuned!
Stay tuned as we share more local folks who are Makin’ It Work, and check out our weekly interviews (of the same name) on Instagram Live every Friday.