As COVID-related job losses and financial uncertainty began to unfold earlier this year, many “non-essential” businesses braced themselves for the reality that consumers may not have the discretionary income to buy their products and services. This was a major fear for Patrick and Laura Connelly, the husband-and-wife team behind custom artwork brand Stellar Villa.
“We were concerned about customers’ interest in buying artwork at such a time,” said Patrick. “A few weeks into the quarantine, however, demand for our products was through the roof. I believe this was due to the fact [that] people were spending so much time in their homes and wanted to invest to make their space more enjoyable.”
Like many companies, Patrick and Laura faced some supplier and production issues at the start of the pandemic due to temporary shutdowns or reduced operations. They typically work with professional printing labs that print and ship Laura’s hand-drawn digital artwork directly to their customer. The couple struggled to find a supplier that could print and deliver the custom pieces with minimal delays.
I believe there is a lot of opportunity with the increased reliance on online shopping, and this is something aspiring entrepreneurs can take advantage of.
Patrick Connelly, co-founder, Stellar Villa
Despite this setback, Stellar Villa has managed to keep growing during the pandemic. Through her personal Instagram account, Laura has built a large following by consistently posting her work and connecting with people to form real relationships.
“We plan to continue with our social media efforts and expand our product line to offer a larger selection of artwork to cater to the tastes of a larger clientele,” said Patrick.
[Read: 5 Small Business Owners Reveal How They Are Marketing On Social Media During COVID-19]
Additionally, Laura has formed partnerships with nonprofit organizations she and her followers are passionate about, so everyone feels like they’re involved in giving back during this difficult time. As consumers continue to seek out social responsibility when vetting brands, it’s important to explore and identify causes you can publicly and authentically support to appeal to your customer base.
Shifting from a brick-and-mortar business to a digital company
To ensure accessibility to consumers and stability during COVID-19 and beyond, aspiring entrepreneurs should shift their focus from securing a physical storefront to building a digital-friendly brand — which is exactly what the Connellys did by increasing their social media presence.
Based on their experience, the couple encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to consider business ideas that can be operated fully online, rather than a traditional brick-and-mortar business that is reliant on in-person traction.
“A physical location could be risky, especially with the threat of continued shutdowns and restrictive measures,” said Patrick. “I believe there is a lot of opportunity with the increased reliance on online shopping, and this is something aspiring entrepreneurs can take advantage of.”
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Published February 15, 2021