Big Red Jelly wants to highlight small businesses, Private Label Chocolate and Studio Lemon. These two have made a comeback after the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Learn firsthand from their experiences and see how you can make a return of your own this year.
Private Label Chocolate
Ty Erickson, the owner of Private Label Chocolate, knows better than anyone that memorability is key to successful marketing. The company based in Bluffdale, Utah began with a mission to not only provide high quality, one-of-a-kind chocolate, but to teach their clients how to set their brand apart. With faithful partners ranging from the Utah Jazz to insurance firms, it’s clear that people remember the beloved proprietary chocolate.
Prior to March of 2020, most of Ty Erickson’s time as president of the marketing and branding company had been spent working in the business, not on the business. Teams were focused on expansion and diversification. Success and security seemed to be a guarantee.
Just when business couldn’t have been going better for Private Label Chocolate, the COVID-19 pandemic came along and took its hit on companies across the world. Making a comeback as a small business seemed impossible. For Erickson, and many other business owners, the pandemic created the most interesting, challenging year of his career. Chocolate orders plummeted from 40,000 truffles to a mere 4,000 after March 15th. Many employees quit out of fear that the company would lose all stability in the new market. Despite the initial horror and shock created by the pandemic, Erickson can see that the changes and decisions made during that time are easily the best thing to happen to Private Label Chocolate.
Suddenly having to shut down caused Erickson and his remaining employees to reevaluate everything about the company. (You can only sit around cleaning machinery, pawning off excess inventory, and staring at your coworkers for so long). It became clear that things could not keep going the way they had before the global pandemic.
With nothing but time on their hands and a whole lot of chocolate, the team took a deep dive into the details behind their processes, vendors, and machinery. They learned more about the business than they thought possible.
Hear from Ty
When asked how Private Label Chocolate bounced back so effectively, one answer kept coming up time and time again with Ty Erickson: “We got lean, and we got efficient”.
“Only doing and having what you need is a cut back that allows you to double down on your strengths. I would have never dared to cut back less popular flavors like we did, I was convinced ‘more is better’. But that, among other changes to simplify our process, gave us the flexibility to remain strong when things changed (and they changed quickly and drastically). Staying in your business’s ‘comfort zone’ prevents discovery that can propel you towards future success. We play offense but we are always prepared to make a switch in the middle of the game. Maintaining flexibility and putting yourself in a position to pivot allows for maximum growth.”
The time Private Label Chocolate used to slow down and reevaluate was invaluable to their successful bounce back following the pandemic. Now, with the same volume of orders as before, Erickson says they are 75% leaner and more efficient than prior years.
For a company focused on memorability, 2020 provided the prime opportunity to continue to perfect their strategy and grow stronger than ever before. The small business has not let COVID-19 stop them from making a comeback. Though the future brings new questions of pricing challenges, economic growth, and other adjustments, Private Label Chocolate is looking forward to their next memorable journey.
Want customized chocolates? Check out Private Label Chocolate’s website!
About 25 miles south of Private Label Chocolate, another small business owner, Richard McShinsky of Provo, Utah, is making a “picture-perfect” comeback after the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
Studio Lemon offers a one-of-a-kind, user-friendly studio experience for photographers, models, and businesses. They manage the behind-the-scenes work of contacting, scheduling, and studio setup, allowing customers to simply choose what they want, show up, and be creative!
Richard McShinsky and his wife Lexi decided to take the leap of faith in starting Studio Lemon after the pandemic made it difficult for both of them to find the work they wanted. The couple took a self-reliance course on starting a small business to gain the necessary insights to become business owners. Their new knowledge combined with strong connections to the local modeling and photography communities hatched a plan for what would become Studio Lemon.
Most competing studios charge hefty prices for a professional, indoor space. The McShinskys wanted to offer the same experience at a much more reasonable price: only $35 an hour. Using their government stimulus checks to fund prop acquisition, rent, and a beautifully designed website from Big Red Jelly, Richard and Lexi began to watch their dream become a reality. While admitting the venture as a whole was quite “nerve-wracking”, Richard said they knew the investment would be worth it.
Hear from Richard
When asked for advice on how to successfully start a small business during a worldwide pandemic, McShinsky explained that he believes it all ties back to relationships.
“I’ve seen it’s absolutely crucial to establish really good customer relationships and make sure everyone you work with feels valued. Consistent, positive experiences from our customers spread the word more quickly than my wife and I could ever do ourselves. The pandemic has been hard economically for pretty much everyone and having good customer relationships is free marketing and advertising. Who wouldn’t want that?”
Since their official opening at the end of May 2021, the studio has already hosted a variety of exciting shoots. The small business has made a comeback during COVID-19 that the global economy thought would be impossible. While the COVID-19 shut-down could’ve made them sour, Richard and Lexi chose to take the lemons life threw at them and create Studio Lemon.
Do you own a small business or know of a business that has made a comeback after COVID-19? Visit our website to get connected with us and share your story.