When the coronavirus pandemic struck the world back at the beginning of 2020, most people were quick to disregard it, claiming it would simply come and pass like the flu. But this was not to be the case.
What followed was a series of lockdowns and government-enforced social distancing protocols that locked people indoors. Millions of people lost their jobs and many established businesses permanently shut their doors.
But, out of the rubble sprouted some ambitious women, who decided to rise above the crisis and find opportunity. With a little willpower and a facemask in hand, they risked it all and defeated the odds.
1. Lily Liu, CEO, and Co-founder of Piñata
Having already been listed under Forbes 30 under 30 back in 2017, Lily Liu is not new to the world of entrepreneurship. Throughout her career, Lily had strived to bridge the missing link in communication between renters and landlords. She noticed that both parties, more so the renters, did not receive any financial benefits from the relationship. And as people lost their jobs during the pandemic, many of them failed to pay on time.
In a bid to solve this problem, Lily collaborated with industry leaders to form Piñata - a platform that was specifically made to boost the relationship between landlords and renters by encouraging on-time payments. It established a rent relief campaign whereby landlords can nominate struggling tenants to receive aid to keep them in their homes. The company manages this by sourcing from internal resources plus tax-deductible private contributions. It also encourages tenants to pay their rent on time by offering them incentives like redeemable gift cards and welcome gifts.
Lily offers the following advice for other women founders, "As a female founder, it's tempting to think you can do it all yourself. It's important to lean in but not fall over. It's your job to find the right talent and set the organization up to succeed beyond you trying to do everything yourself. It can be difficult to carve out the time, but set aside 25% of your week to focus on networking, recruiting and setting your team up for success."
2. Dolores Fuerrero, co-founder of CG&S Design-Build
As she took a loan of $641 000 from the paycheck protection program, Dolores was merely looking to keep her family business, CG&S, from shutting down. This came after a prediction that indicated that the remodeling industry would slow down in 2020. However, in the wake of the pandemic, Dolores was shocked by a sudden surge in demand for her services.
As it turns out, the fact that people were spending more time at home drove them to recognize all the faults in their space. During the pandemic, homeowners all across the country who were now willing to pay for design services. As a result, the company not only received twice the amount of business it had previously, but it also took advantage of a new demand for design services. They've even gone as far as adding new designers and 2 new project managers.
Thanks to her brave moves, the once failing company has pivoted and is now operating at full performance. Dolores claims that whiteboards at her office are constantly filled with ideas for the tons of projects she now handles.
3. Foss, co-founder of Happy cork
It was just the dawn of the pandemic when Ms. Foss and her husband launched their wine store, Happy Cork. Even before the pandemic, the business, which was located on the side of the lightly trafficked Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, had been experiencing some levels of struggle.
However, as the city locked down, Ms. Foss quickly adapted by switching their services to an online platform and began advertising through social media. It was then that they started noticing a greater inflow of customers, who were then locked inside their homes. Because of the new demand from the masses, sales continued to climb. Since the start of the pandemic, HappyCork has doubled their staff to eight employees and counting.
According to research, women-owned businesses were generally taken to be more susceptible to the pandemic's economic impacts. Despite this, these women identified their niche and bravely took the steps necessary to see their companies thrive.