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Yorktown business owners find creative ways to thrive in pandemic

Some local businesses haven't just survived the coronavirus pandemic; they've expanded.

YORKTOWN, Va. — Kim Kellogg is creative for a living, and her creativity came in handy when the pandemic began.

In March, Kellogg planned to expand and relocate her business, Lilac Lane DIY Studio, from Hampton to Yorktown. She found a larger venue and signed the lease in early March.

Her plans quickly changed.

“We weren’t able to get our business license because the county shut down before we had a chance to,” said Kellogg.

She closed her Hampton location when that lease expired weeks later. In April, Kellogg found herself without an operating storefront to serve customers. So, she did what she’s always done: she got creative.

“We decided we would do Facebook Live videos and show them how to do the kit,” said Kellogg. "Then I would put the kits together, and because they couldn’t get out, I would drop all of the kits at people’s houses.”

At times, Kellogg recorded and posted several videos daily to social media and personally delivered products to customers for free.

“Hampton. Newport News. Williamsburg... I followed the customers,” she said. “I knew people needed an outlet, and art is an outlet.”

Kellogg is one of countless entrepreneurs who have adjusted their business model in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest count by Yelp said more than 163,000 U.S. businesses have closed since the beginning of the pandemic, and more than 60 percent of small businesses reported losses in revenue, according to a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management.

But there are businesses, like Kellogg’s, that have managed to not only survive – but expand.

Michelle Green is one of those people, too.

In March, she expanded her business, Blown Away Salon, and added a second location in Yorktown and more than a dozen employees. The state shut down just two weeks after her opening day.

“It was very challenging, very scary,” she said.

She adapted her business model, too. Her salon includes hair and facials and offers apprenticeships for aspiring stylists. Unable to open, Green turned to online classes and invested in technology to keep customers safe when her business reopened. 

Since June, she said her team served a few thousand customers and have had no cases of coronavirus. Green says the business is doing well, and she is already planning for some form of online expansion in 2021.

“We are stronger because we realized just how much we are stronger together,” said Green.

Kellogg eventually opened in August, and she said her online customer bases carried over into the new storefront.  

Kellogg said the lessons learned in the pandemic have strengthened her business.  

“Just because you started as one thing doesn’t mean you are going to stay there,” she said. “And doesn’t mean you’re going to finish there.”