Small businesses feel the pinch

Mead Simon adjusts one of the creations from Mead Simon Chainmail Designs. Simon is a chain-mail artist, jeweler, and fashion designer.  Photo credit Shoghi Simon

Mead Simon adjusts one of the creations from Mead Simon Chainmail Designs. Simon is a chain-mail artist, jeweler, and fashion designer. Photo credit Shoghi Simon.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Like all business throughout Canada, small business owners in Victoria’s military community are under a healthy dose of financial uncertainty due to COVID-19 and physical distancing measures. While each of them sells a different product and has varying challenges in their home workspace, each remain hopeful their business will survive despite the recent economic slowdown as a result of the global pandemic.

Sweetlegs Victoria

Naval Cadet Mandy Patzer own SweetlegsVictoria with Mandy, a clothing business that sells high-quality leggings, shirts and accessories.

She relies heavily on e-commerce, but her sales have dropped off severely when everyone’s financial security was hit with uncertainty.

She recently placed an order for $900 worth of merchandise just prior to the start of physical distancing and stay-at-home measures. Over three weeks later, half the products haven’t been paid and picked.

“By the time the shipment came in many people no longer wanted what I had bought for them, and I have been left holding the bag,” she says. “I am not allowed to pre-sell products and this is concerning right now since all of the products I sell are bought and paid for with my own money on promises that people won’t back out.”

She is a Regular Force member and is attending the University of Victoria as a member of the Regular Officer Training Program. Classes are now online as she enters her fourth and final year of the program.

She has been involved in private clothing sales for over 3 years. She’s confident that despite the initial lull in sales, people in Victoria’s military community will continue to support her business. She is already adjusting and charting a new path forward, likening the situation to the chickens she raises on her property to supplement the family food budget.

“It’s all about not putting all your eggs in one basket,” she concludes.

Chainmail Designs

Those whose businesses are tied to the seasonal tourism industry have been greatly impacted. That includes Mead Simon Chainmail Designs.

Simon is a chain-mail artist, jeweler, and fashion designer. His wife is PO2 Marielle Audet, a professional musician with the Naden Band.

He sells his products at seasonal markets in the Greater Victoria area from April to September, and his sales projections for the next few months are not good. 

“My outdoor markets are effectively cancelled at least until July and more likely August or later,” says Simon. “This hasn’t been easy because approximately half my annual income depends on revenue derived from these markets.” 

The current situation is truly uncharted territory, he says, but he remains confident his business can overcome the situation with more focus on online sales through an upcoming revamped website. He also plans to flatten the financial pinch by cutting back on “frivolous” expenses both at home and in the business world.

“Take care of your business, be aware of your costs, and don’t fall for an unsustainable expansion plan, especially right now,” he advises.

Artist Oz Tilson

The impact of physical distancing measures is creating a different kind of challenge for military spouse, podcast voice actor, and commissioned artist Oz Tilson.

She runs an art business, selling artwork from her home, including paintings, portraits, murals, quilts, and household furniture items.

Unlike Simon and NCdt Patzer, Tilson says sales, inquiries, and interest in her art has actually increased since COVID-19 precautionary measures began.

“I can’t predict the future but right now there has definitely been an up-tick,” she says.

The issue for her is balancing her household, where everyone is now home, with her business.

“My home is my workspace and suddenly has four people in it who aren’t normally here with me all day.”

That includes her husband, submariner CPO2 Joel Tilson, her 18-year-old daughter, and two 14-year-old sons. Their presence has forced her to stop using her in-home recording studio where she works as a voice actor.  She sells her voiceovers for people producing podcasts, but right now has passed that work on to others in her network.

“We are a very tight-knit family so that part really hasn’t been an adjustment. For me and the family, were are so grateful for the military and community support that has allowed us to maintain something like our normal routines.”

As the impacts of ongoing physical distancing and stay-at-home measures continue to be felt far and wide, the Lookout would like to hear how it has impacted your business, community organization, studies or interaction with others. We want to know how you have been coping with the situation and any unique or innovative measures you have taken to overcome the problem. Story ideas can be emailed to the editor


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