Virtual Market | Day 2 Tips for Businesses During COVID-19
As the interior design industry, brands, and the world learn to adapt to a new normal, Vishion Virtual Market hopes to bring this community together, collaborating. If you are struggling to adjust to social-distancing, closed showrooms, and canceled events, Vishion is here to help you discuss your small business concerns. Here is what we learned from Day 2 of Vision #VirtualMarket’s LIVE Sessions from our industry-leading experts
Virtual Market Day 2
Need Help? Act Fast
With business’ storefronts shuttered and profits plummeting, many Interior Design firms and designers are searching for answers on how to weather the coronavirus storm. The Wall Street Journal reports that 5 million jobs in the United States are in jeopardy. Brian Bernhardt is a tax attorney with more than 20 years of experience, specializing in providing advice for businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals. He says if you are one of these companies or individuals impacted, act fast.
“Main focus of the CARES act is the Paycheck Protection Program which provides $349 billion dollars in loans to small businesses, non-profits, and other businesses on a first come, first served basis.”
Bernhardt says that the CARES act is designed to help small businesses maintain operations, like full-time employees and payroll, for as long as the virus exists. The Act defines small businesses as any company with no more than 500 employees located in the United States. The goal of the program is to cover 2.5 months of average monthly payroll.
“When you get this PPP loan, you can use it for: payroll costs, costs for group health, benefits, paid sick, insurance, salaries, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, utilities, or on any other debts incurred prior to Feb 15.”
Bernhardt says it’s not written into the CARES act, but the Small Business Association has decided that you have to use 75% of the money given for payroll costs: salaries, wages, commissions, tips, parental leave, vacation, severance payments, healthcare benefits, retirement benefits, state and local employment taxes (not federal).
Five things not considered payroll costs:
1. Payroll costs cover up to $100k of an employee salary. Salaries over 100k get capped, and the additional money is subtracted out.
2.Federal employment taxes
3.Compensation for any employee whose place of residence is outside of the United States
4.Sick leave wages and family leave wages that you are paying to anyone under family first Act
Bernhardt says to keep in mind that banks are running this program differently. He says to act quickly because each bank has placed a threshold on assistance, and applications already began on April 3. He says that depending on how long the pandemic continues, Congress may need to pass another bill.
If you’re having issues getting information or assistance from your bank, he suggests reaching out to another institution but be ready to move your cash on the same day.
Keep Moving Forward
For brands like Industry West, there is no other option but to keep moving forward. Extending their
warehouse and west-coast hours, IW is doing what they can to provide high-quality, thoughtful decor continuously. During their #VirtualMarket session, An Inside Look at Industry West, Emily Aldridge gave us a peek at the brand’s newest line.
“We believe that fantastic design should be approachable, feel good, and make you happy to be where you are.” – Industry West Founders, Jordan and Anne England
Based out of Jacksonville, FL, a showroom in SOHO, and warehouses in Florida and California, coronavirus has put a halt to “stopping by,” but business is still possible. Industry West’s LIVE session is an innovative way that an organization can tackle the virtual environment. Sharing designs, explaining details, and making questions accessible is one way to take your showroom hands-free and virtual.
A discount of 25% encourages everyone to take the leap. Are you still concerned? Ask for a swatch or a risk-free sample. Use code SPRING25 for that discount code.
A global pandemic may be changing the retail environment, but Industry West knows how to keep moving forward.
Collaborate and Communicate
Maureen Stevens is a master of design, as the Grand Prize Winner of the Vishion Design Award Competition, her work can be found across the United States in her distinct, what she calls, historic neoteric style. Since 2013, she traveled around the country with her design business, often working remotely. Specifically, her award-winning design for Vishion was done mostly from afar. She says collaboration and communication are essential for remote design work, especially now.
“I think we live in a world now where communication is very easy. I do zoom meetings and have a lot of communication with the client, setting expectations- I ask a lot of questions. It’s about their needs and wants and what their vision is for their space.”
Stevens says it can be hard to convince her clients to be risky and comfortable with color. Pushing them out
of their comfort zone and boundaries is important, but thanks to technology, it’s possible. Getting a mood board together, with an app like Vishion, can help make even the most conservative clients, take a risk.
“showing them that it can be beautiful and look cohesive with the right colors and right doses of each one, it can ve a great space even if they arent into color”
Stevens says design inspiration is everywhere, you just have to find it. She believes in mixing styles that create a space that is layered, textural, and exciting that you will love for a long time.
If your a designer working remote for the first time, she says to gain inspiration from the items your client has in their homes. Look around and catalog the things that inspire them every day. You will see a pattern.
If your a design lover looking to update your space, Stevens has a helpful solution. She’s rolled out a program called “Let’s Find It,” a service offered to everyone and anyone this is looking for something specific. Many people don’t want the commitment or the process of a full design, Let’s Find It, helps you curate that particular piece you are looking for. Thanks to technology, this is all another way the Interior Design community is adjusting through collaboration and communication.
Stand by your Brand
As a consultant to the design industry for 10 years. Sean Low, focuses on creative professionals. With a blog called The Business of Being Creative, he constantly thinks about creative businesses – how they run and how they could run better. He says during this global pandemic, business owners have a deep responsibility to get smart. He says in reality, the coronavirus is just an obstacle.
“You may not have had this new constraint where you could only do things virtually, well, that’s just a new constraint. In the short term everyone needs to forgive that new constraint”
While many people are taking this new obstacle as a way to pivot their business, Low says to stay true to your brand, stretch your talent, expand, and don’t compromise your product or price.
“How fast can you be an expert in zoom? How fast have people learned to communicate digitally or virtually? You get to be forgiven for what you’re doing but why would you lower your price… If anything I would tell you that you should hold your prices steady and figure out how to grow them and be more specific”
He says before you decide to pivot, understand what you are pivoting to.
“You need to really think about the process and what you are about and what is important to you. Ask yourself, “can I keep doing those things and can I keep getting paid to do those things. if not, am I willing to shift my value?”
Low emphasizes that nobody has to be perfect but you have to be invested – in the stages and steps you will need. Just make sure you give yourself time to accomplish them. During this time when everything is slowed down, you get the chance to slow down and do it right.
DAY 2 RECAP
LIVE, #VirtualMarket sessions continue Wednesday, April 15. To view the list of topics and register for LIVE speaker sessions, click here.
If you missed us, don’t worry! You can see ALL of the FULL #VirtualMarket sessions online. Head to our Facebook page to view aired sessions, ask questions, and connect with the Vishion Community.
Vita is an Emmy-nominated journalist that has a passion for creative content and color. Inspired by the places she travels and the products she loves, Vita’s design style is transitional with a little edge.