How an L.A. indie bookstore’s GoFundMe motivated a modest business enterprise lifeline

On a Tuesday early morning in September, Raymond Wurwand was in his Southern California household

On a Tuesday early morning in September, Raymond Wurwand was in his Southern California household sipping tea and examining the newspaper when he transpired upon a tale about battling unbiased bookstores. The print headline read through: “Backbone-tingling bookstore woes: Some outlets, including Diesel, are turning to fundraising to endure. 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 community cafe. The Dermalogica proprietors have fully commited $1 million in grant assist to L.A. smaller corporations struggling owing to the pandemic. (Lucy Wurwand)

He turned to his wife, Jane Wurwand, and said: “We’ve acquired to do one thing.”

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In partnership with Pacific Neighborhood Ventures and TMC Neighborhood Money, the house owners of pores and skin-treatment company Dermalogica determined to start Uncovered/L.A. Little Enterprise Restoration Fund, a $1-million grant software to enable compact minority-owned enterprises in Los Angeles County remain open through the pandemic. Amongst the eligibility prerequisites: Candidates must very own at least 50% of a brick-and-mortar store, make use of much less than 20 folks, and give proof of profitability right before the pandemic. The Wurwands acquired 2,430 purposes for the initially spherical of grants — from restaurants, salons and cafes as nicely as gyms, retail stores and working day-treatment facilities. Ten were randomly chosen. Apps for the 2nd cycle open Jan. 11.

“We designed Dermalogica by way of selling to compact salons, so we built our business through advertising to compact business people who have been devastated by COVID-19,” said Jane in a the latest Zoom job interview. “So as we go through the piece, we realized that could’ve been our story, but we have been particularly fortunate. Our salons have been particularly like Diesel,” she explained. Diesel, a Bookstore, with areas in Del Mar and Brentwood, is 1 of many enterprises that have built public pleas for help. “That’s who employs the community.”

The longtime philanthropists generally offer minority companies micro-loans as a result of their Wurwand Foundation, but Diesel’s pandemic wrestle put into sharp concentrate the have to have for immediate, no-strings aid — some tiny companies just won’t be able to on any extra financial debt.

Some 7,500 organizations in L.A. have forever closed considering the fact that March 1, according to a neighborhood economic impression report posted by Yelp in September — the premier amount of closures in any U.S. metropolitan spot. Stores and dining establishments signify the bulk of closures, with house owners of color disproportionally influenced. A university examine published in May perhaps discovered that 41% of Black-owned enterprises throughout the country shut down in between February and April. The number of stores owned by Latinos, Asians, immigrants and ladies dropped 32%, 26%, 36% and 25%, respectively.

These closures are what worry Jane Wurwand. “The issue I am fearful the most of just after this is, when we carry our heads and look all-around our communities and neighborhoods, I consider we are going to see a ton missing, and we have to rebuild our major streets in our neighborhoods since if not we just really don’t have a level of relationship,” she stated. “I want to reside near the regional bookstore and the regional salon. I really don’t want to stay next doorway to the Amazon warehouse.”

A person new beneficiary, Rice and Noodle, has been keeping on by a thread this 12 months.

Lunch revenue at the very small Thai and Vietnamese cafe fell by far more than 60% just after places of work in the place shut. Operator Kwan Chotikulthanachai, 43, was forced to lay off all her workforce. She has not been capable to spend complete lease considering that May, and she didn’t qualify for Paycheck Defense Software or financial injuries catastrophe financial loans. Cleaning and sanitizing materials have added a lot more costs. But with her husband or wife and chef, Son Ongjampa, she’s managed to dangle on, her 8-12 months-aged son, Hugo, and 6-month-outdated toddler, Ethan, at her aspect.

When she located out Monday evening via email that she would receive a $5,000 grant, she cried.

“I was so happy,” Chotikulthanachai claimed tearfully in a cell phone job interview Wednesday. “It can be like I won the lottery.” Hugo joyously jumped and screamed. She named her mother in Thailand — who cried, much 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, left, inside Rice and Noodle with her relatives. (Curtis Dunwoody)

“I am performing so hard,” she stated. “This time has been exceptionally hard, but I can’t give up. I will not want to near my restaurant.”

Possessing a business has been a dream for Chotikulthanachai. She grew up in the restaurant earth in Bangkok, in which her mother ran her possess location. She opened Rice and Noodle in 2018 with the assist of loved ones, and hopes sometime to hand it down to her son. “I cannot permit my loved ones fall short with me.”

Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo also sighed with relief this week. The operator of U-Body-It Gallery, a personalized frame shop with spots in Tarzana and North Hollywood, shut her shop for four months at the start off of the pandemic. Income dropped up to 50% after film and television studios shut down, stripping her of a trustworthy resource of profits. She been given PPP and Tiny Company Administration financial loans, but the latter money was despatched to the wrong particular person she won’t have the money, but she’s obtaining invoiced for payments.

Via it all, she kept her personnel on the payroll, constructing cupboards, tables and other items to organize the retailer though the doorways remained closed to the public.

Cruz-Ocampo, 55, saved performing, too, even with fears of contracting the virus. She has scleroderma, an autoimmune condition that helps make her vulnerable to extreme 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 inside of her framing small business, U-Frame-It Gallery. (Jennifer Daigle)

On Tuesday early morning, even though she was having ready for function in the bathroom of her Northridge household, Cruz-Ocampo opened an electronic mail: “Congratulations on the L.A. Modest Business enterprise Recovery Fund,” it go through. “U-Body-It Inc. has been awarded a Discovered/LA Restoration Grant for the quantity of $22,500.”

She screamed.

“I have been driving on hire, and this will help me keep my employees,” she explained in a phone interview. “This is like a bridge, a lifeline, to get by means of a really, extremely tough year. This is a blessing.”

Cruz-Ocampo remaining Colombia for the U.S. with her family members when she was 9. Just after finding her associate’s degree in small business administration from Pierce University, she purchased the frame shop in the 1980s with personal savings and a small business mortgage. She opened a 2nd location in Tarzana in 2000.

“It is really like a Christmas present, a big Christmas current,” reported Cruz-Ocampo. “It helps make me come to feel some thing very good about this Xmas. As bad as it’s been, it can be ending truly properly.”

This story at first appeared in Los Angeles Instances.

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