Pivot, Survive, Thrive?

Los Angeles County officials relaxed the Stay At Home shut down orders so now personal care services (nail salons, hair stylists and barbershops) are allowed to once again welcome customers. And outdoor dining also returns.

How is your business surviving? What help do you need the most? Let me know -- and we can share your story!

-- Brenda Rees, Biz Buzz Editor

Contact me at brenda@TheEastsiderLA.com

A midwife and a masseuse find new ways to serve moms-to-be


The pandemic solidified Sparrow Harrington’s choice of career as a pre and post natal masseuse. “It pushed me to really understand how touch is such a powerful and necessary tool and my commitment to families,” she says.

Even in a pandemic, couples are still having babies – just not as many as in previous years.

A report by the Brookings Institute in Dec. 2020, estimates that the public health crisis and associated recession could result in 300,000 fewer births in 2021.  The report amended that number, adding that ongoing school and day care closures could mean a larger reduction in births.

Still, local small businesses that serve pregnant women are finding plenty of need.

Last year when the pandemic hit, midwife Christian Toscano, owner of Fertile Moon Midwifery in Highland Park, was slammed with phone inquiries; many pregnant women were fearful of delivering babies in hospitals. Toscano remembers fielding 10-20 phone calls a day.

“It was crazy,” she said. “Now, the calls are steady about five a week. It’s less than what we doing before COVID.”

Practicing midwifery for more than 10 years, Toscano had to modify how she offers services to the pregnant patient during the pandemic.

Women can now choose optional virtual appointments, but many still opt for in-person appointments that are complete with safety procedures. Toscano recommends in-person appointments during the entire third trimester and for lactation support.

“All this forced isolation provides its own challenges,” she says. “We have minimum physical contact when they are here, but often, that’s all they need.”

Overall, Toscano is bracing for a baby boom once the pandemic abates. This year, she’s counting on more births in September and October (“That’s about nine months from New Year’s”) which has typically been a busier time of the year.

Pampering moms-to-be

“It’s been such a wild ride.” That's how Sparrow Harrington, owner of Sparrow’s Nest in Glassell Park, describes how her massage and wellness services have endured the pandemic. Harrington and a small staff provide pre and postnatal therapeutic massage, skin care treatments and yoga.

When the pandemic originally closed the studio, Harrington wanted her clients to continue to receive the benefits of massage. So she offered virtual sessions to walk partners through basic massage techniques and strokes, demonstrating how to find and soothe specific muscles. She also created an online DIY course on how to take care of pregnancy pain at home.

The December shutdown was difficult; only clients who had a doctor’s note could receive a massage for medical reasons. “We maintained about 60 percent of our normal clientle,” says Harrington, relieved that chapter is finally over.

Harrington applied for the first round of PPE (turned down), but hopes for funds from this second round. “We took an overall hit, and we’ve been feeling it. But we are still operating,” she says.

Today, in addition to indoor massage (in the studio’s 14-foot ceilings), tables are additionally set up outside, lulling clients to the sounds of birds and breezes. There are extra costs, however, of pivoting outside says Harrington describing new purchases of misters (summer) as well as heaters, table warmers and heating pads (winter).

Overall, the pandemic solidified Harrington’s choice of career. “It pushed me to really understand how touch is such a powerful and necessary tool and my commitment to families,” she says.

Poll: Would you plan to have a baby during the pandemic?

You voted:

Who’s buying digital cameras?

Is it time to declare digital cameras officially dead? Some analysts think so.

Citing that that the iPhone has made digital cameras obsolete, technology journalist Om Malik recently reported on the “full-blown massacre” of digital cameras across all camera companies not just one-time- camera maker leader Kodak.

“Last year, only 9 million cameras were sold … down from 122 million in 2010,” he writes.

The post pandemic job scene

Experts are closely watching how the longevity of adjustments made because of COVID will stick around the retail and job markets once the pandemic has been put to bed.

Marketplace recently reported that after the Great Recession, many folks were stuck in low-wage, part-time temp work, mainly in the hospitality and restaurant industries, a scenario that’s unlikely to happen this time because of the decimation of those jobs.

Future jobs will probably revolve around online shopping, grocery pickups and less on travel, surmises Laura Veldkamp, business school professor at Columbia University. “Some of those changes are likely to stick. And we may not go back to old habits after COVID passes,” she says.

Economic impacts of COVID in LA County in 2020

The Los Angeles County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) recently released an in-depth report on the economic impacts of COVID and outlined pathways for recovery for the County’s industries, workers and communities.

The report, Pathways for Economic Resiliency: Los Angeles County 2021-2026 reveals that LA County lost 437,000 jobs in 2020 and will have 354,000 fewer living wage jobs in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic economy. For the entire LA County workforce to achieve a satisfactory standard of living, 738,672 living wage jobs need to be created.

The report also demonstrates how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, people of color and households with lower incomes. Rebuilding after COVID must incorporate these segments in order for the County to best rebound.

How has 2021 been treating you so far?

What's on top of your List for 2021? Biz Buzz wants to hear one thing that your small business wants for this new year. Drop me a line and let me know how business is going -- or not going -- for you! 

-- Brenda Rees

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