by| Featured Contributor
It’s difficult to know for certain when this — the COVID-19 pandemic — too shall pass. Many small business owners are pivoting their products and services during this unprecedented time. The decision to pivot is doing more than assisting those in need with necessary supplies and relief. It’s helping small businesses stay in operations. Pivots also allow owners to take a nimble approach and create even more valuable offerings for their company business models.
Feeling inspired to make a pivot, but not sure which direction to move towards or which would be best for your startup? Take a cue from the pivots that these female entrepreneurs are making with their small businesses.
Claire Coder | Aunt Flow
Pivot: Menstrual products to face masks.
Claire Coder is the founder of Aunt Flow, a startup that prides itself on the ability to ensure everyone has access to menstrual products. Aunt Flow sells dispensers and supplies to help stock organizations in the United States, including workplaces and university campuses, with menstruation products. However, the company faced a major hurdle when these organizations closed due to stay at home orders across the country.
In a time of crisis, Coder played to Aunt Flow’s strengths. Aunt Flow is a Class II medical device supplier and a Food and Drug Administration registered importer. The company was able to switch from making menstrual products to manufacturing three-layer disposable masks. The company manufactures pads in Shanghai, where they quickly made the pivot to mask production. Aunt Flow also partnered with manufacturing company Atrium Corp. for quality assurance purposes.
Currently, face masks are available to order on Aunt Flow’s website. They will begin shipping out from Ohio on April 20th.
Merrilee Kick | Buzzballz
Pivot: Alcoholic spirits to hand sanitizer.
When the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came out with hand sanitizer formulation and waived the necessity to have a permit in order to manufacture it, Merrilee Kick seized the moment to pivot her business.
Kick is the president of Texas-based alcoholic beverage company Buzzballz. Her company had the necessary raw materials needed to make hand sanitizer and was vertically integrated with the proper equipment. Kick was able to quickly find 100% glycerin to add to the alcohol mix. This allowed her to make the company’s first 100-gallon batch of hand sanitizer.
Since creating that first batch, Kick has been able to donate to three local hospitals in critical need. Hand sanitizer batches have also been sent to pathology labs, firefighters and police officers, supermarkets, the Army and the Air Force, and airlines including Spirit and American Airlines. Buzzballz, and its happily employed team, continue to make and provide COVID-19 first responders with necessary hand sanitizer.
Chavonne Hodges | GrillzandGranola
Pivot: In-person fitness classes to Workout From Home programs.
Many small business owners with brick and mortar storefront locations have had to get creative to make a successful pivot for their business. GrillzandGranola launched in June 2016. Chavonne Hodges, who started going to the gym to feel better as she went through a divorce, noticed a lack of diversity in her gym. She became a certified group fitness instructor, created TrapAerobics, and founded the company.
Due to COVID-19, GrillzandGranola has had to cancel its in-person classes and events. Online classes, however, have not been cancelled. GrillzandGranola now offers a Workout From Home program that allows students to work on their post-quarantine bodies and boost their energy and moods with 20-minute workout sessions. Live workouts, including the signature TrapAerobics class, are accessible to one and all via smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. They’re also inexpensive, with 20-minute classes priced at $5 each and no equipment necessary in order to work out.
Mollie Eliasof | Mollie Elisaof Therapy
Pivot: In-person therapy to tele-therapy.
Many individuals would like to see a therapist for mental health support. However, there are a few obstacles in the way as we continue to stay at home. Those on a budget may struggle to figure out how to pay for therapy. Remote workers with families and/or children may not have enough quiet time to set aside to keep an appointment.
Mollie Eliasof, CEO of Mollie Eliasof Therapy, has started providing virtual tele-therapy resources to clients in need. She shares free information on her social media platforms, like Instagram, and has been creating therapy content on publishing platforms including Forbes so readers may learn more by listening in and reading.
Wei-Shin Lai | AcousticSheep
Pivot: Inventing SleepPhones® to help people go to sleep.
Dr. Wei-Shin Lai’s pivot isn’t exactly a pivot as much as it is an innovative invention. The idea for SleepPhones® came after Lai, CEO of AcousticSheep, struggled to get back to sleep after taking patient calls in the middle of the night. The bulkiness of headphones and uncomfortable feeling of earbuds inspired Lai and her husband to invent their own headphones. SleepPhones® are headphones specifically designed for sleeping with a soft headband contained thin, removable speakers.
As more people work from home and struggle with anxiety and stress, a good night’s sleep matters now more than ever. This product enhances AccousticSheep’s existing offerings, including their specialized running headphones called RunPhones, and provides individuals everywhere with one-of-a-kind headband headphones that make it easier to drift into a deep sleep.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.