How an L.A. indie bookstore’s GoFundMe influenced a tiny business enterprise lifeline

On a Tuesday morning in September, Raymond Wurwand was in his Southern California house sipping tea and examining the newspaper when he occurred upon a tale about struggling independent bookstores. The print headline read: “Spine-tingling bookstore woes: Some stores, which includes Diesel, are turning to fundraising to survive. Shelve 2020 as horror.”

a group of people sitting at a table: Jane and Raymond Wurwand at a local restaurant. The Dermalogica owners have committed $1 million in grant support to L.A. small businesses struggling due to the pandemic. (Lucy Wurwand)

© (Lucy Wurwand)
Jane and Raymond Wurwand at a area cafe. The Dermalogica proprietors have dedicated $1 million in grant help to L.A. compact companies having difficulties owing to the pandemic. (Lucy Wurwand)

He turned to his wife, Jane Wurwand, and mentioned: “We have received to do a little something.”


In partnership with Pacific Group Ventures and TMC Community Money, the entrepreneurs of skin-care business Dermalogica decided to launch Uncovered/L.A. Compact Business Recovery Fund, a $1-million grant application to enable little minority-owned businesses in Los Angeles County continue to be open through the pandemic. Amid the eligibility prerequisites: Candidates should personal at minimum 50% of a brick-and-mortar shop, hire fewer than 20 folks, and deliver proof of profitability right before the pandemic. The Wurwands received 2,430 applications for the very first spherical of grants — from dining establishments, salons and cafes as properly as fitness centers, retail stores and day-treatment facilities. Ten had been randomly chosen. Apps for the second cycle open Jan. 11.

“We developed Dermalogica by providing to tiny salons, so we created our business enterprise through providing to tiny entrepreneurs who have been devastated by COVID-19,” explained Jane in a new Zoom job interview. “So as we go through the piece, we understood that could’ve been our tale, but we have been very lucky. Our salons ended up particularly like Diesel,” she stated. Diesel, a Bookstore, with places in Del Mar and Brentwood, is just one of several companies that have manufactured community pleas for help. “That is who employs the neighborhood.”

The longtime philanthropists usually offer minority corporations micro-loans via their Wurwand Foundation, but Diesel’s pandemic battle set into sharp focus the require for direct, no-strings aid — some smaller enterprises just are unable to on any additional personal debt.

Some 7,500 organizations in L.A. have completely shut given that March 1, according to a nearby economic impact report released by Yelp in September — the most significant quantity of closures in any U.S. metropolitan spot. Stores and places to eat represent the bulk of closures, with house owners of coloration disproportionally afflicted. A university examine published in Could discovered that 41% of Black-owned companies across the place shut down between February and April. The amount of shops owned by Latinos, Asians, immigrants and females dropped 32%, 26%, 36% and 25%, respectively.

These closures are what fear Jane Wurwand. “The detail I’m fearful the most of right after this is, when we lift our heads and glance all around our communities and neighborhoods, I think we are likely to see a good deal missing, and we have to rebuild our key streets in our neighborhoods because usually we just never have a position of connection,” she mentioned. “I want to are living around the nearby bookstore and the area salon. I don’t want to are living subsequent doorway to the Amazon warehouse.”

1 new beneficiary, Rice and Noodle, has been holding on by a thread this year.

Lunch sales at the tiny Thai and Vietnamese cafe fell by additional than 60% soon after places of work in the place shut. Proprietor Kwan Chotikulthanachai, 43, was compelled to lay off all her workforce. She has not been equipped to pay out entire hire given that Could, and she failed to qualify for Paycheck Protection Method or economic personal injury catastrophe loans. Cleansing and sanitizing materials have additional more expenses. But with her lover and chef, Son Ongjampa, she’s managed to dangle on, her 8-12 months-aged son, Hugo, and 6-month-previous toddler, Ethan, at her side.

When she discovered out Monday evening through electronic mail that she would receive a $5,000 grant, she cried.

“I was so delighted,” Chotikulthanachai mentioned tearfully in a phone job interview Wednesday. “It’s like I received the lottery.” Hugo joyously jumped and screamed. She termed her mom in Thailand — who cried, as well.

a person standing in front of a brick building: Kwan Chotikulthanachai, left, inside Rice and Noodle with her family. (Curtis Dunwoody)

© (Curtis Dunwoody)
Kwan Chotikulthanachai, still left, inside Rice and Noodle with her family members. (Curtis Dunwoody)

“I am doing the job so tough,” she explained. “This time has been extremely challenging, but I simply cannot give up. I you should not want to shut my restaurant.”

Owning a company has been a dream for Chotikulthanachai. She grew up in the cafe earth in Bangkok, where by her mother ran her have position. She opened Rice and Noodle in 2018 with the aid of relatives, and hopes sometime to hand it down to her son. “I can not permit my family members fail with me.”

Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo also sighed with aid this 7 days. The operator of U-Frame-It Gallery, a tailor made body store with spots in Tarzana and North Hollywood, shut her shop for 4 months at the commence of the pandemic. Profits dropped up to 50% immediately after motion picture and television studios shut down, stripping her of a responsible supply of revenue. She been given PPP and Compact Enterprise Administration financial loans, but the latter dollars was despatched to the completely wrong individual she isn’t going to have the money, but she’s obtaining invoiced for payments.

As a result of it all, she held her workforce on the payroll, constructing cabinets, tables and other items to arrange the retail outlet whilst the doors remained closed to the general public.

Cruz-Ocampo, 55, kept doing work, too, irrespective of fears of contracting the virus. She has scleroderma, an autoimmune ailment that would make her vulnerable to critical complications from COVID-19.

a person standing in front of a building: Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo inside her framing business, U-Frame-It Gallery. (Jennifer Daigle)

© (Jennifer Daigle)
Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo within her framing enterprise, U-Frame-It Gallery. (Jennifer Daigle)

On Tuesday early morning, although she was acquiring ready for perform in the lavatory of her Northridge property, Cruz-Ocampo opened an e mail: “Congratulations on the L.A. Compact Organization Recovery Fund,” it browse. “U-Frame-It Inc. has been awarded a Found/LA Recovery Grant for the sum of $22,500.”

She screamed.

“I’ve been driving on rent, and this will enable me keep my personnel,” she said in a mobile phone interview. “This is like a bridge, a lifeline, to get by means of a very, extremely challenging year. This is a blessing.”

Cruz-Ocampo still left Colombia for the U.S. with her family members when she was 9. After finding her associate’s diploma in small business administration from Pierce College, she purchased the frame shop in the 1980s with cost savings and a business enterprise mortgage. She opened a next place in Tarzana in 2000.

“It’s like a Christmas present, a huge Xmas existing,” claimed Cruz-Ocampo. “It helps make me feel a little something excellent about this Xmas. As terrible as it really is been, it really is ending genuinely properly.”

This tale initially appeared in Los Angeles Situations.

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