Small Business Profiles
After a trip to visit a friend’s son at a local pediatric ward left Kevin Gatlin disheartened, he became determined to make lengthy hospital stays more comfortable for kids and parents alike. He thought about how his kids utilize the limited space in their own bedrooms by playing games, doing homework and reading on their beds. From this point, Kevin let his imagination run wild and created Playtime Bed Sheets, interactive sheets to help keep kids entertained from the comfort of a bed.
When Alicia Villanueva moved to California in the early 2000s, she discovered the ways in which she could learn about different cultures through their native cuisines. And as someone who loves to cook and share her own culture, she worked for many years with her family to turn her passion into a real business. Today, Alicia is the proud owner of Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, a catering company and food processor facility located in Hayward, Calif.
Keeping kids engaged, curious and confident throughout virtual learning and lockdowns is a task many parents and schools have struggled with over the past 10 months. Fortunately, Virginia small business owner Ellen Victoria Luckey is well equipped to help her community tackle the issue.
When Dr. Shelley Cooper launched her telehealth consulting business Diversity Telehealth LLC in Kansas City, Mo. in 2015, she knew she’d face an uphill battle due to the nature of her work. “‘What is telehealth, and how does it work?’—Those are the questions I get all the time,” says Dr. Cooper. “But I’m here to tell you about the lifesaving benefits it can provide, and why you should care about it.”
Ten years ago, Sway Soturi woke up to find that her face had swollen “to the size of a watermelon.” After speaking with doctors and friends, she decided to cut out inflammatory ingredients like gluten and dairy from her diet.
After 15 years working in the restaurant industry and battling an eating disorder, Sway had to re-define nutrition and her relationship with food. Over the next few years, she shifted to a wellness mindset becoming a personal trainer and cooking with more natural and local ingredients.
After working for several companies in the public and private sector, David Mercer Louie realized that he would always have little to no control over his own paycheck. “Even if I gave over 100% of my time and effort to these companies, I’d never earn as much as I could if I worked for myself,” says David. In his case, the alternative was more than obvious: Join the family business at the Harry Louie Laundry and Dry Cleaners in Dover, Del.
The gut reaction to quickly pivot their business was a survival method that saved many small business owners from closing their doors this year. Now, nine months after initial stay at home orders were set in place in response to the spread of COVID-19, many entrepreneurs across the country are looking for their second pivot of the year in order to survive.
Veteran entrepreneur Roxanne Huggins has owned the Comstock Premier Lodge in Sargent, Nebraska since 2009. Working with her husband Mitch and one other employee, they have managed to expand their business from a large farm to a year-round bed & breakfast hunting lodge and ranch.
In the nine months following the initial coronavirus outbreak, small business owners across the United States continue to struggle to keep up with the changing demands of the global health crisis. From adapting business plans to launching new business ideas, entrepreneurs have been forced to be quick on their feet—or perish.
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