At Business of Home, we’re committed to following the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout on the design trade. We’ll be collecting the most important stories here, in a—hopefully short-lived—regular feature. If your business is being affected or you have a tip, please drop us a line.
- For a comprehensive list of industry cancellations and postponements, click here.
- For advice on how to talk to clients, click here.
- For advice from PR Pros on how to communicate in a crisis, click here.
- For a look at what the stimulus bill means for your firm, click here.
COVID SURVIVAL KITS
Brothers Jason and Gary Neiman of Bru USA were born into the textiles industry. Their father, Selwyn Neiman, was the principal of the U.K.-based Furnishing Fabric Agencies until his retirement in 2009. In the face of the pandemic, the brothers have come together with six other entrepreneurs to found RecovidNow.com, a digital resource “by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.” The initiative offers three free toolkits: The First Aid Kit, the Survival Kit and the Rebuild & Growth Kit.
The First Aid Kit outlines a step-by-step plan for small businesses to tackle the initial issues associated with operational shutdowns: clarity surrounding financial situations, changes in supply and demand, and internal operations form the first stage. As part of building the action plan, the kit offers several external resources to educate business owners on the topics that will help them navigate the templates that RecovidNow offers.
The Survival Kit will launch in June, and the Rebuild & Growth Kit will launch in September, both following similar models to help businesses create clear and actionable plans to recover from the economic body slam that came with the spread of the coronavirus. —Marina Felix
A NEW INFLUENCE NETWORK
Influencer marketing budgets may be taking a hit at the moment, but micro-influencers are coming for the design industry, thanks to a savvy new partnership. Los Angeles–based publicist Joseph Aldrich of The Cypress Group has teamed up with Beth Bender, founder of Dallas-based financial services and marketing consultancy The Dove Agency, to launch the Designer Discovery Collective, which paired 21 designers with 15 brands for a month of cross-promotion and Instagram collaborations.
The ultimate goal? Harness the collective followings of all participants to connect working designers in search of new product with the latest from participating trade brands. The initial partners were all referred by their agency representation (this month, Aldrich and Bender tapped PR pros like Jessica Robb and Raymond Schneider to curate the mix); together, the designers and brands have nearly a quarter-million social media followers. The campaign will be rolled out on the Collective members’ pages, as well as on the group’s feed and website. “Think of it as influencer marketing for the masses, when the masses are all influencers,” says Aldrich. “Every month, there will be new vendors and new designers. Everyone needs help getting the word out these days—this is when people have to think about finding new ways to do things.” —Kaitlin Petersen
Out of the box
Like so many people across the globe, David Ascalon was wondering what he could do to help fight the COVID-19 crisis. His New Jersey–based Ascalon Studios, which specializes in the fabrication of large-scale site-specific artwork, stained glass windows, and design elements for public spaces, wasn’t equipped for fabric manufacturing or the heavy-duty work of making ventilators. Still, he knew there must be some way to use the space for public good.
Through his son, Eric Ascalon, he heard about a fundraiser that Seth Pearlman, a local general contractor, was hosting to collect materials that could be used to fabricate what’s being called the COVID-19 Intubation Safety Box, an acrylic box that is positioned over an infected patient’s head and upper torso. When the patient needs to be intubated, gasket-sealed ovular holes allow doctors, nurses and first responders to undertake the procedure while minimizing the risk that droplets from the patient’s lungs infect them. Pearlman first learned about the need for such a device from a friend who worked at a local hospital and asked if he might have the materials to make a few of them.
When Pearlman and Ascalon connected on the matter, they were able to quickly retool the Ascalon Studio and will have created 100 of the reusable boxes by the end of the week. A few weeks into the process, the pair have donated boxes to nearly 100 hospitals from New Jersey to Florida. To fulfill the orders, local suppliers, including Lowe’s and Northeast Plastics in Philadelphia, have donated material and have offered additional supplies at cost. Other companies, including New Jersey–based CadPro and Wexford Builders, are providing logistical support.
“This is a war being fought,” Ascalon said in a statement. “Just as American peacetime manufacturers rapidly retooled during World War II, we knew that our facilities would allow for us to play a role in this battle.” —Haley Chouinard
HOW DO DESIGNERS FEEL ABOUT COVID-19?
The American Society of Interior Designers will be conducting a biweekly survey of its members to assess their response to the economic conditions caused by the coronavirus. The organization has released the results of the first survey, which was taken on March 31 and polled nearly 1,250 designers. Respondents listed their top three concerns as business development, client engagement and the disruption of construction and installation. In another portion of the survey, 48 percent of designers admitted to a high level of concern about the changes to their business the crisis is causing, with 38 percent estimating it would take them between one and three months to get back on track—and that’s if the pandemic were to end today. For the full results of the survey, head here. — Haley Chouinard
ART FROM QUARANTINE
As stay-at-home orders began descending, the experimental art gallery Furth Yashar & got busy curating. The fruits of their labor, “Solo Show,” speaks to the unique conditions at present. “The gallery project has always been about supporting the creative community, so it was natural and fitting for us to utilize our platform in this time,” co-founder Oliver M. Furth tells BOH. On March 25, the group exhibition was unveiled on Instagram, featuring unique artworks made within a 72-hour block of quarantine. “We asked for works to be created within 72 hours as a reflection of the urgent response we felt was needed in these unprecedented times,” explains co-founder Sean Yashar. “The time parameter was also a way to free everyone from the idea of perfection, to encourage a more immediate reflection,” Yashar adds.
While some of the works will be available for purchase at the end of the two-week “exhibition,” the show is intended for Instagram only. “It’s not a consolation to a physical show, or meant to be iterated later in another way,” says Furth. “It’s the intention to present it in this format and in this time only.” —Marina Felix
- Of the $2 trillion in the coronavirus stimulus package that Congress passed in March, $350 billion has been dedicated to small businesses in an effort known as the Paycheck Protection Program. Under the program, banks are encouraged to grant high-forgiveness loans to companies that agree to keep workers on the payroll, reports The New York Times. But the first days of enactment have been fraught, prompting the Fed to step in and create a financing solution for small businesses—the details of which are still to come.
- On April 3, legendary designer Charlotte Moss challenged her Instagram followers to create collages, and for each submission until April 6, she pledged $100 to the hunger relief nonprofit Feeding America. The #charcollage challenge saw 931 participants—meaning that Moss’s family foundation has donated $100,000, providing one million meals to hungry Americans.
- The International Market Centers has produced a summary of five government relief programs. “We hope these easy-to-digest summaries will help business owners navigate the process related to securing government assistance during these unprecedented times,” CEO Bob Maricich said in a release. Included in the document are resources for both business owners and employees.
Homepage photo: A collage by Charlotte Moss