The importance of customer loyalty is at an all time high during COVID-19. The other day I got a text from a friend who ventured out to her local farmer’s market. She said that the social distancing was set up well, but no one was there. As a result, all of the small businesses that make up the market are suffering. Every week for almost a year now, she buys flowers from the same woman to put in just about every room in her house. She keeps going back weekly, even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic, because she really likes this woman and her flowers and “ … I just want her to hang in there and stay in it.”
… I just want her to hang in there and stay in it.”
For anyone else thinking or feeling this way, let me say thank you on behalf of whichever small business owner you’re hoping to help stay in business. I cannot tell you how important customer loyalty has been over the past month as we’ve been forced to close our doors at Effie’s Paper due to COVID-19. I’m not sure my friend is aware of how much her weekly trips to this woman’s booth at the flower market, rain, shine or pandemic, mean to her as a small business owner. But, especially in a time like this where small businesses are struggling just to keep all of their various balls in the air. The juggling act takes on vast proportions as you add in employees (and their families), rent, inventory, cancelled orders, contracts and events. As a business owner, building and maintaining customer loyalty is something I think about all the time. But, it’s at times like these that truly underscore the importance of customer loyalty.
On the internet, behind their computer and phone screens, people often feel a degree of anonymity … this same anonymity is why the Twitter trolls have proliferated. As an e-commerce business owner, I’ve come across more than my fare share of customers whose expectations and behavior would never be expressed in the same manner if we were to meet in person. But, thankfully, the good far outweigh the bad. I have customers who I’ve never met in person, but who have an affinity for me and my brand like my friend Cass has for the flowers and the woman who sells them to her at the farmer’s market. This is a time when the importance of customer loyalty may be what makes or breaks some of us. Rest assured, small businesses survive and thrive because of loyal customers. We cannot do what we do without you, plain and simple. Trust and believe, when an order comes through on our website, on almost all websites owned and operated by small business owners, we do a happy dance. That phrase is not just a meme on Instagram. It really is true.
To do what I can to help pay it forward, I am highlighting a few of my favorite female-owned small businesses who I know would love to have your support, now and in the future. Please check out their websites, place an order if you can, follow them on social media, and keep them in mind for future purchases.
BLK+GRN is an all natural marketplace filled with products made by Black artisans. You can consume consciously with their carefully curated merchandise. from everything from toner to nail polish to face masks. If non-toxic, green products made by Black makers is what you’re looking for, definitely check out their cornucopia of offerings. The ethos of the company and its founder, Dr. Kristian Henderson, is one I can get with – they’re using their marketplace to connect Black people with natural lifestyles to high-quality, toxic-free brands that share in their mission of health, wellness and community cultivation.
If you wear your heart on your sleeve, a sweater from Lingua Franca might be just what you need. Lingua Franca is a line of sustainably-sourced, fair trade luxury cashmere sweaters, all hand-stitched by women in NYC with lots of moxy. What I love about Lingua Franca is their heart and commitment. They’re committed to fair trade, ethical labor practices, and the highest environmental standards. They pay their embroiderers, all local women in NYC, a living wage. Oh, and they’re into using the brand as a platform to inspire change – a portion of LF proceeds support the badass activists and organizations who are working for a better world. Their sweaters are not cheap, but their cheekiness and tenacity have endeared them to many (yours truly included).
Unwrp makes the BEST wrapping paper. The company also makes reusable fabric gift wrap. They’re designs are bright, cheerful and sure to impress any gift recipient! Each design comes in paper gift wrap, fabric gift wrap, a gift bag, a greeting card and in some instances stickers. I love the playful use of designs on all of unwrp’s products, they make me smile. So, if you’re looking to take your gift giving up a notch, look no further.
Verrier Handcrafted‘s Instagram feed and stories have been giving me life and getting me through sheltering in place. It’s like Ashleigh Verrier is in my head every morning. Her original artwork appeals to my style sensibility and brings a sense of joy and whimsy to my days. If you like fashion, New York City, beautiful clothes and lots of glitter, be sure to check out Asheleigh’s work – her illustrations can be found on everything from smartphone cases to greeting cards and wall art. Oh, and to help like-minded individuals cope, she’s made some of her illustrations into free downloadable coloring pages.
If you’re looking for other ways to help one of your favorite small businesses during this uncertain time, I’ve put together a list of ideas I hope you find helpful. Just click here. I promise they’re well aware of the importance of customer loyalty whether they’ve mentioned it or not; they’re not unappreciative, they’re just trying to stay afloat at the moment.
Stylishly yours, Kalyn