Jen Motyka has a unique perspective when it comes to running a business during a crisis. She has two of them, and she says they’ve responded very differently to the lockdown.
She owns Blitz Promotions, an event planning and business consulting service that aims to empower local businesses in Anchorage, Alaska. She’s been running it for about three and a half years and says the transition to an event-free world has been very challenging.
She’s also a founding stylist at Color Street, a beauty brand that specializes in colorful nail art, which she does from home. She says things with this business have been “really easy.”
The difference, she says, comes down to one simple thing.
Marketing 101: Solve problems
“Right now, finding really innovative ways to still connect with your customer base, obviously while following social distancing guidelines and being safe, is the key,” she says.
“My home-based business hasn’t had a glitch. If anything, it’s really taken off because it’s nail polish. A lot of people are having to grow-out their nails, they can’t go to the salon right now so they’ve been [looking for alternatives]. I think with any business, it’s about problem-solving. That’s Marketing 101. You want to provide a solution for your customers, so how are you going to do that?”
She already had a website in place, which means she’s able to continue operating without having to leave her home to do any deliveries or expose herself to any health risks.
Things with the event-planning business, on the other hand, have been “very difficult.”
The lack of physical events means Jen has been looking for ways to pivot and find new ways to connect with people. She says it’s amazing how creative the industry has been, from organizing virtual events to drive-ins, where everyone attends while staying in their cars, a safe distance from one another.
“We’re finding better ways to connect. A positive to come out of this, if we can find them – and I think it’s important that we do – is really nurturing those personal connections. We’re not sending mass texts anymore, it’s ‘How are you doing? How’s your family doing? How can I help you?’ It’s really reinforcing and nurturing those relationships.”
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Nurture connections with others
One of the most interesting things to come out of this period, Jen says, is the stories.
“Stories are such an authentic way to connect with other people and say, ‘Hey, it’s OK to be scared – I’m also scared. It’s OK to be overwhelmed – I’m also overwhelmed. Here’s how I’m helping, here’s what I can do, here’s something to make you feel a little bit better about where you’re at,’” she says.
“Connections keep us safe, keep us healthy, keep us occupied. I think those have been the key, for me, to help me keep moving forward because it’s really easy to just get complacent.”
It’s important to be patient with yourself, and allow yourself a little grace, while you’re figuring out the next step. She notes it’s equally important not to be afraid to ask for help.
“I suggest looking up YouTube Tutorials, reaching out to other businesses – if you have a friend you know does a lot of videos on Facebook, for example, you can ask them for help. Even now, when I see my face on the screen, I’m like “Oh!” even though I’ve done tons of videos. It doesn’t matter how many you do, there’s always that sort of stage fright – I don’t want to say the wrong thing or touch my face! It’s about having a little grace,” she says.
“Mistakes are going to happen and that’s OK. We’re all in this together. You’re not alone in not knowing or being scared.”
Allowing yourself some grace
It would be impossible to count the number of times we’ve heard the word “unprecedented” in recent weeks. None of us have experienced this before, so cut yourself some slack.
Jen says in her experience, the little things have made a big difference – no matter how silly they may seem. She laughs as she cites her conversation with us as an example, explaining she actually really enjoyed the chance to let out her “mom bun” and do her hair.
“Women are trying to figure out how to home school and run our businesses and cook three meals a day and it’s this long laundry list. Our personal self-care goes out the window, because we have all these other things to do. How do we find a little happiness? It might be superficial, but if you look good, you do feel good. Even today, I put on some mascara and I was like, ‘Oh yes, that’s right!’”
With this in mind, she’s currently working on a series called In Between Beauty, which she hopes to release in coming weeks. It will feature a range of different people giving home beauty tips to tide them over until they can resume supporting local business and return to their favorite salons.
“It will be tips to keep you going in that in-between time, because that’s what this really is. It’s an in-between time that we’re stuck in. People need to remember that. There was a time before coronavirus and there will be an after.”
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