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Home-Based Businesses Have the Advantage?

Home-Based Businesses Have the Advantage?

Woman working on computer at home

[Updated 3/22/2020] Oh the IRONY -

For the first time that I have ever experienced, home-based businesses may have a significant advantage over the businesses that have retail storefronts or brick and mortar locations.

I have served business owners in the embroidery and apparel decoration industries for more than two decades. Throughout all that time, I have heard business owners that work from home apologize for their businesses in every possible way. "I just do it at home," "I only have one machine," "I do it part-time, I have a 'real' job..." The list of what they say goes on and on and on. They are defensive, apologetic, denigrating.

Well, guess what all my home-based business owners? This is your time to SHINE!!!

Due to the unprecedented situation we all face during this COVID-19 pandemic, the world has changed, probably permanently, in many ways. As more and more states roll out mandatory business shutdowns, the home-based business owners are the last ones standing. Of the approximately 20,000 embroidery businesses in the United States, roughly half are operated from home. These businesses can still produce, as long as they can continue to get the inventory needed.

The first thing I want you to realize is that there is a difference between making money FROM a crisis, and making money DURING a crisis. Life is still happening, the need for decorated apparel still exists, albeit very differently in many ways at the moment. Business can and will go on. You do not need to apologize for working, selling and surviving as an apparel decoration business.

The next thing to consider is potential ways that you can help your community and your customers. Many people in the commercial embroidery industry also know how to sew and own traditional sewing machines. One way to offer support is to begin sewing and selling nonmedical face masks. They are very simple and fast to make, and you can even offer customization. For families with children that should wear masks, offering a family pack of coordinating masks may be just the thing to encourage a child to keep a mask on.

It is not unreasonable to be compensated fairly if you make masks. I am not proposing that people charge a hefty price for them, if any price at all. That is a decision best left up to each individual business owner. I see this as “selling (by serving your customers) DURING crisis.”  The people that bought up all the TP and hand sanitizer with the intent to resell it at higher prices, that is attempting to profit FROM crisis.
According the the CDC, homemade masks may very well be what things come down to, even in the medical professions. Here is one of the more comprehensive articles, published by Forbes Magazine, which provides the CDC statement as well as links to a report on the test results of various fabrics for homemade masks along with links to instructional videos  showing how to sew face masks at home:

I have 5 personal reasons to make facemasks, and millions more:

  • My sister in law who lives locally, is going into round 37<?> of chemo this week, and asked me to make some for her and her family as well as extras for anyone that comes to their home, since she is such high risk.
  • Our daughter is due with our first grandchild in the next 2-3 weeks. She will be coming home from the hospital to stay with us for a bit, so that we can support her as she learns to become a mom and to help her limit exposure for her and the baby. The hospital recommends that anyone coming to see Liv and meet her daughter have their temp checked before they enter our home, and to wear a mask while they are here. We now have a basket of masks sitting at our door.
  • The husband of one of the NNEP team members is a truck driver for US Foods, delivering semi truck loads of food to hospitals, nursing homes, and restaurants. He not only delivers the food, he unloads it and takes it into these establishments, by hand, one cart load at a time. He and all the others that deliver food have been classified as “emergency services workers,” and because they are in and out of so many locations, they may want to wear masks, which restrict their breathing, even while doing the heavy labor of moving tons of food every week.
  • My dad is 84, turning 85 in May. He is rather healthy, having beat cancer once already, but he feels “a bit off” at times, and is staying home as much as possible. I am making him a mask, as well as some extras for anyone that comes over.
  • My niece is a doctor at Metro Health in the Emergency Room, one of the most active Trauma 1 Centers in the state of Ohio. She requested some homemade masks, even knowing that what I make is not medical-grade equipment.
  • The millions more? All the people that have a cough or cold and still have to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the gas station, or to work and want to let others know that they are only out in public because they need to be and that they are doing their part to maintain social distance and flatten the curve.

The need for decorated apparel is evergreen, meaning that no matter what state the world is in, there are people who need apparel that denotes who they are and what they are doing. The need for apparel for safety and medical workers is immeasurable, and essential, for example. People are being put to work in medical services in high numbers due to COVID-19, and this is going to continue to escalate. A mother with a sick child is much more likely to hand off that child to a med-tech for evaluation when that med tech is dressed and identified as a health care professional. Imagine that same scenario if that med-tech was wearing sweats and a t-shirt?

The need to identify specific segments of the workforce via decorated apparel and products is real and ongoing. When retail locations are mandated to shut down, home-based businesses are uniquely qualified to continue to serve their communities and their customers as needed. Our intent of this post is to rally these home-based businesses, to motivate them to step up and shine, to fill the gap so that these apparel decoration services could be provided when and for whoever needs them.
Here’s the thing - after 9/11, we, the citizens of the USA, had a common enemy. There was an instantaneous and nationwide "US vs. Them” mindset, a cause to rally around, a reason to come together and boy oh boy did we!
With COVID-19, things feel very different because there is no common external enemy. In fact, the reality is that someone you love, even in your own home, could cause you to become sick, and they may never even know that they did so. There is an underlying “me vs. you” element to this pandemic that has people on edge, and many may not even realize it. It is insidious, and it is eating away at the fabric of some families and our culture.
We received dozens of emails and calls from business owners this past week, asking “What should I do? What can I do to help?” We wanted to point folks in the right direction, to help them shift gears to an “US” mindset, if you will, even in a small way.

Maybe, just maybe, the underserved home-based businesses that have been invisibly producing billions of dollars in annual sales will be seen as the real businesses that they are (and have always been) by the general public as well by the industry suppliers that have overlooked this segment of the industry for so long.

NNEP is getting inquiries about businesses that are continuing to operate from all over the country. If you will be able to operate even during a mandated retail shutdown, please let us know by clicking the link below. If we know where you are located, and that you plan to continue to operate, we will be able to send relevant referrals your way.

If you are an industry supplier, you too can click the link below and let us know if you are continuing to ship orders, and update your information when or if that changes. We can and will share this information with apparel decoration professionals that are looking for inventory.







3 Responses

  1. Jennifer Cox says:

    Received an email from a business owners that said, "In the haze, gloom and confusion your email was like a breath of fresh air..."

  2. Jennifer Cox says:

    Another person lamented that they are a retail, bricks and mortar business. My response to these business owners:

    Many folks that have been ordered to close are working ON their businesses, from home, including NNEP !
    -Update your website
    -Organize your customer files
    -Watch some training videos on digitizing or graphics software.
    -Develop or fine-tune a marketing plan for when business resumes
    -Learn a new software for the business
    -Take the time to review your financials, do in-depth dives into your expenses, comparing year to year to see where you are leaking profits, for example

    Just because we do not normally work at home, that sure does not mean that we can’t work?!

    We will come through this one way or another -- it is up to each of us to determine in what state of mind, and at what level of preparedness to get things back in gear for our businesses.

    And, there is always Netflix…

  3. Jennifer Cox says:

    Someone sent me an email that they found this article in poor taste, that I was advocating that people do profit if they make and sell face masks. As I stated above, "I am not proposing that people charge a hefty price for them, if any price at all. That is a decision best left up to each individual business owner. I see this as “selling (by serving your customers) DURING crisis.” The people that bought up all the TP and hand sanitizer with the intent to resell it at higher prices, that is attempting to profit FROM crisis."

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