How an L.A. indie bookstore’s GoFundMe inspired a little enterprise lifeline

On a Tuesday early morning in September, Raymond Wurwand was in his Southern California dwelling sipping tea and reading the newspaper when he occurred on a tale about having difficulties independent bookstores. The print headline go through: “Backbone-tingling bookstore woes: Some outlets, 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 nearby restaurant. The Dermalogica entrepreneurs have dedicated $1 million in grant support to L.A. compact firms having difficulties because of to the pandemic. (Lucy Wurwand)

He turned to his wife, Jane Wurwand, and explained: “We have acquired to do something.”


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In partnership with Pacific Local community Ventures and TMC Neighborhood Funds, the proprietors of skin-treatment corporation Dermalogica made the decision to launch Located/L.A. Compact Small business Restoration Fund, a $1-million grant method to assistance modest minority-owned businesses in Los Angeles County keep open up throughout the pandemic. Among the eligibility needs: Candidates ought to own at the very least 50% of a brick-and-mortar store, employ less than 20 people today, and offer proof of profitability in advance of the pandemic. The Wurwands obtained 2,430 apps for the to start with round of grants — from eating places, salons and cafes as very well as gyms, retail suppliers and day-care facilities. 10 have been randomly picked. Purposes for the second cycle open Jan. 11.

“We designed Dermalogica through promoting to tiny salons, so we developed our business by way of selling to little business owners who have been devastated by COVID-19,” said Jane in a modern Zoom job interview. “So as we read the piece, we understood that could’ve been our story, but we’ve been very privileged. Our salons were just like Diesel,” she stated. Diesel, a Bookstore, with spots in Del Mar and Brentwood, is 1 of many companies that have made public pleas for aid. “Which is who employs the community.”

The longtime philanthropists typically offer you minority firms micro-loans as a result of their Wurwand Basis, but Diesel’s pandemic struggle set into sharp emphasis the need for immediate, no-strings assistance — some small companies just are not able to on any much more debt.

Some 7,500 companies in L.A. have permanently shut given that March 1, according to a community financial influence report printed by Yelp in September — the major selection of closures in any U.S. metropolitan spot. Shops and dining establishments symbolize the bulk of closures, with proprietors of shade disproportionally affected. A university review posted in May perhaps found that 41% of Black-owned enterprises across the nation shut down amongst February and April. The variety of retailers owned by Latinos, Asians, immigrants and gals dropped 32%, 26%, 36% and 25%, respectively.

These closures are what worry Jane Wurwand. “The factor I am fearful the most of immediately after this is, when we lift our heads and glimpse about our communities and neighborhoods, I think we are likely to see a large amount missing, and we have to rebuild our principal streets in our neighborhoods for the reason that usually we just really don’t have a place of link,” she mentioned. “I want to live around the community bookstore and the nearby salon. I do not want to are living following door to the Amazon warehouse.”

A person new beneficiary, Rice and Noodle, has been holding on by a thread this yr.

Lunch income at the little Thai and Vietnamese restaurant fell by extra than 60% after places of work in the location shut. Proprietor Kwan Chotikulthanachai, 43, was forced to lay off all her staff members. She hasn’t been ready to pay out total rent given that May well, and she did not qualify for Paycheck Security Software or economic damage catastrophe financial loans. Cleaning and sanitizing materials have included a lot more charges. But with her partner and chef, Son Ongjampa, she’s managed to hold on, her 8-calendar year-aged son, Hugo, and 6-month-previous toddler, Ethan, at her side.

When she identified out Monday night via e-mail that she would acquire a $5,000 grant, she cried.

“I was so happy,” Chotikulthanachai explained tearfully in a cell phone job interview Wednesday. “It can be like I received the lottery.” Hugo joyously jumped and screamed. She known as her mother in Thailand — who cried, far too.

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, remaining, within Rice and Noodle with her family members. (Curtis Dunwoody)

“I’m working so really hard,” she claimed. “This time has been amazingly hard, but I simply cannot give up. I don’t want to near my cafe.”

Possessing a business enterprise has been a aspiration for Chotikulthanachai. She grew up in the restaurant earth in Bangkok, the place her mother ran her very own position. She opened Rice and Noodle in 2018 with the enable of family members, and hopes sometime to hand it down to her son. “I can’t enable my loved ones are unsuccessful with me.”

Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo also sighed with aid this 7 days. The proprietor of U-Frame-It Gallery, a tailor made body shop with locations in Tarzana and North Hollywood, shut her store for 4 months at the start of the pandemic. Product sales dropped up to 50% just after film and television studios shut down, stripping her of a reputable supply of revenue. She obtained PPP and Compact Business Administration loans, but the latter funds was sent to the mistaken human being she won’t have the money, but she’s acquiring invoiced for payments.

As a result of it all, she kept her staff on the payroll, constructing cupboards, tables and other parts to arrange the retail store although the doorways remained closed to the general public.

Cruz-Ocampo, 55, saved working, as well, despite fears of contracting the virus. She has scleroderma, an autoimmune ailment that helps make her susceptible to intense problems 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-Body-It Gallery. (Jennifer Daigle)

On Tuesday early morning, even though she was receiving completely ready for operate in the toilet of her Northridge property, Cruz-Ocampo opened an electronic mail: “Congratulations on the L.A. Little Small business Restoration Fund,” it examine. “U-Frame-It Inc. has been awarded a Observed/LA Restoration Grant for the amount of money of $22,500.”

She screamed.

“I have been behind on rent, and this will enable me continue to keep my workforce,” she explained in a phone job interview. “This is like a bridge, a lifeline, to get via a incredibly, pretty difficult calendar year. This is a blessing.”

Cruz-Ocampo left Colombia for the U.S. with her relatives when she was 9. Just after acquiring her associate’s degree in business enterprise administration from Pierce University, she purchased the frame store in the 1980s with financial savings and a business enterprise bank loan. She opened a 2nd location in Tarzana in 2000.

“It really is like a Xmas present, a massive Xmas existing,” explained Cruz-Ocampo. “It can make me feel anything very good about this Christmas. As undesirable as it can be been, it’s ending really perfectly.”

This tale originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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