First Lady Frances Wolf reiterated the Wolf Administration’s support of small businesses in Pennsylvania while visiting three small businesses in Philadelphia. The first lady stopped by YOWIE, Harriett’s Bookshop, and Triple Bottom Brewing and spoke with the owners about how their businesses pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the pandemic we saw our small business community get creative in ways we’ve never seen before and it was truly inspiring to witness their dedication to their business and their community,” First Lady Wolf said. “This trip was absolutely necessary to acknowledge their fortitude, to thank them for their contribution to the commonwealth, and to encourage them to keep going.”
The first lady started her tour in Queen Village at YOWIE, a home and life shop focused on curating small collections from friends, independent artists, and designers. YOWIE founder Shannon Maldonado served as the Southeast Regional Ambassador of One Lens, Mrs. Wolf’s pandemic storytelling initiative, where she shared how the small business community was affected by the pandemic. After Maldonado had to close her storefront, she used social media and digital platforms to stay connected with her customers, a move that stabilized her sales and increased YOWIE’s customer engagement.
Then, the First Lady traveled to Fishtown to Harriet’s Bookshop, an independent bookshop and writing space celebrating female writers, activists, and artists. The owner, Jeannine Cook, was featured in One Lens: Sharing Our Common Views, after closing her business due to COVID, and organizing the “Sisterhood Sit-in” in response to racial threats and emails she and other black business owners received amidst last year’s civil unrest. Between small business funding and the community’s support, Harriett’s reopened their doors and are currently looking to expand.
The tour finished with a visit to Triple Bottom Brewing, a craft brewery that takes pride in their efforts to advance equity and justice, including employing returning citizens. The newest business of the three, Triple Bottom opened their doors six months prior to the pandemic. Like many, they were concerned with maintaining their community connection, and joined forces with other small businesses to launch Joy Box, a custom selection of locally made treats delivered to people’s doors. “This pivot, which came out of a place of scarcity and uncertainty, helped us grow our community and collaborate with other businesses in ways that lifted all of us up,” said Tess Hart, owner of Triple Bottom Brewing.
“But even with all of our pivots and the incredible support of our Philadelphia community, we also relied on the support of the State to help get us through,” she added. “We were lucky to receive one of PA’s Covid-19 Relief grants, which helped us keep our lights on (literally!) and open up our outdoor seating to our friends and neighbors once more. Like so many small businesses, we worked night and day to make it through to the other side of this pandemic, and we know we wouldn’t be here without the support of our community — at every level.” Triple Bottom Brewing received state funding through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance.
“How many of our small businesses were able to bounce back is remarkable and their stories are a real testament to the strength of community,” said First Lady Wolf. “Small business is alive, and many are thriving. I think this is an indication that we are moving to the other side of what this virus has put us through, and I am hopeful we will keep heading in that direction.”
Pennsylvania has other resources for businesses, both large and small, like:
· PA Business One Stop Shop, which helps connect and guide businesses through all stages of development;
· Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority (PMBDA), which provides low-interest loans to businesses owned and operated by ethnic minorities;
· Small Diverse Business Capital Access Program (SDBCA), which provides low-interest loans and lines of credit to small diverse businesses that commit to creating and retaining full-time jobs within the Commonwealth; as well as other funding programs.
To find more about funding opportunities for Pennsylvania businesses, visit the Department of Community and Economic Development website.
Photos from today’s event will be available on PAcast.