Orlando Business Pride
Most cities take pride in their small businesses. Orlando takes that pride to a whole new level. We love our mom and pop shops or seeing a bakery that we all have eaten at on The Food Network. So, this pandemic has hit a lot of those businesses hard. Very hard. People are closing doors and trying to find new ways to reach out to the community that they love being a part of. We’ve all seen it, a business that you love and trust has put up one hat and taken out a new one during the pandemic.
Let’s face it, the world right now is a vastly different place than it was two months ago. So many of us have pivoted our “normal” routines into something that we did not think was possible back in February. While some people are still working, (thank you to all of the healthcare, grocery store employees and first responders!) others are still stuck in their homes waiting for our lives to return to normal. With the state re-opening soon, we wanted to make sure that we all knew how proud we all were of our small businesses that are still fighting the good fight.
We want to show the businesses that we care so dearly about that we are with them. That is why we created #OrlandoInside to show the true spirit of Orlando business, the true pride of the city. We are all in this together after all. But what are your favorite businesses doing during the pandemic? We wanted to highlight some amazing people doing amazing things during these crazy times.
Sarah Johnson-Markve – Good Crowd
Sarah described herself to me as an introvert until she gets to her shop; that is when she really opens up. Speaking with her, even over the phone, I could tell that she loves and misses interacting with people of the community. She truly makes you feel like you’ve known her for a lot longer than the short interaction that you may have with her.
From Digital to Boutique
The Minneapolis native moved to the Orlando area fifteen years ago and worked as a graphic designer, but always had a love for retail. She loved traveling and especially loved visiting local shops and seeing all of the goodies they had to offer. So when an opportunity arose for her to follow that path, she took it. One of her personal friends who owned a local business in College Park (Infusion Tea), and he offered her an opportunity. He told her that she could run their gift shop and learn how to buy and sell all of the merchandise.
Over the next two years, she was able to learn all of the necessary parts of owning a retail shop. She traveled to New York to purchase merchandise and began to keep a list of items that she would want in her shop. Then, a business space opened up and she knew that she had to take it. Thus, Good Crowd was opened May 2019, just in time for Mother’s Day. (Happy one year anniversary Sarah!).
Once she saw the writing on the walls, she knew that she would have to figure out how her store could survive during the pandemic. Last summer she had the goal of setting up an online store so that she could share the gifts that she had curated with people all over the country. This was the perfect time to get that up and running. Other local companies flocked to see how they could help her. Photographer Arlene LaBoy asked what she could do to help; the beautiful product photography is thanks to her. Other vendors such as Dalia’s Flower Truck set up her shop as a pick-up site.
She was able to get her e-commerce site up and running and was able to start shipping all over the country, and started including hand written notes from the senders, if it was a gift. She loves that people trusted enough to let her include an inside joke or sympathies. Even though these times are tough, she is enjoying the time that she has because her children get to hang out with her at the shop. They even help box up orders.
The one thing that was constant throughout my conversation with her was the gratitude that she felt for her community. She misses her customers and meeting new people that find her shop. She will however keep her online shop even after the pandemic is over so that she can continue sending smiles all over, not just in College Park. As of Monday, May 4th, Good Crowd storefront is open 11am – 3pm. Go say hi to her!
April Cox – Rocky’s Retreat
Born and raised in Central Florida, April Cox knew that she was going to be an entrepreneur. As a child, she had her lemonade stand, and always knew that she would not be stuck in someone else’s cubicle. When she got her first dog as an adult, she found her calling, and it was working with dogs.
She began researching how and what she could do, always keeping it at her five to ten year plan. Until, she saw an ad for a “Dog daycare for sale” in Orlando. Taking the chance, she decided to reach out, just to see. She had no idea what the name of the facility was or where it was located until she heard back from the sellers. The name was Rocky’s Retreat. This was a sign for April, her father had passed away and his dog’s name was Rocky. She found her place. She ended up purchasing the facility, still working full time while learning the ropes from the former owners.
After a year or so working alongside the previous owners, she was able to work at Rocky’s Retreat full time and has been there ever since. Her goal was always to grow and expand the facility and has achieved that goal by remodeling one of the bathrooms to be a full grooming and bathing station. As well as adding an additional five boarding rooms. They have a courtyard that has been home to events such as Dog Yoga and Bark & Brunch. (Honestly, sipping a mimosa with a bunch of dogs sounds like heaven).
The Dog Days Will Soon be Over
Even though the pandemic has greatly affected Rocky’s Retreat, they are still able to take your pups. For first responders, (nurses, fire fighters, doctors, ect) they are offering a fifty percent off deal. Rocky’s Retreat is also a drop off station for Happy Trails Animal Rescue, so if you bring in a bag of unopened food, your dog can swim free every other Friday. So, you can let your dog play while giving back to other dogs in need!
In the future they will be bringing on more online retail shopping, with the option of pick or delivery. So, if you need some natural balms for the pads of your fur babies feet, they’ve got you! You also must be on the lookout for her podcast that will drop in May called Pawsitively Living. I for one love podcasts and listen to too many, but I always have room for one more. This will include interviews with vets, trainers and give you healthy options to give your pups the best life they could ever want. Make sure to follow along on Soundcloud to hear all of the newest tips and dog secrets.
Maria Sellars – Heal
Maria is the epitome of “put your money where your mouth is”. Everything she teaches, she knows and understands why it works, because she uses all of those tools herself. From yoga to chakra healing, she understands how it can help your situation. She also knows that stress is usually the underlying problem for so many conditions. She uses that idea in all of her classes and helps you better understand your own body.
Maria’s wellness journey started in 2006 when she moved to the Central Florida area. She started in a Gold’s Gym locker room as a personal trainer, and knew that there was so much more that she could offer. Knowing that she would have to dig deeper in herself to find out how to get to her next path. She spent the next eight years doing a deep dive into yoga, energy healing and essential oils. Getting the best results for her clients was the main concern for Maria.
Healing at Home
In August 2018, almost ten years to the day form when she moved to Central Florida, she opened her dream, Heal. With Heal, she was able to bring all of her experiences together to create a Wellness Center that could truly make a difference in someone’s life.
So in March when massages and in class yoga sessions were not possible, she was on it!. All of her teachings led up to this moment, how do you react to the most stressful impact as a business owner? The day after social distancing orders came, she created the Facebook group “At Home Healing”. She called the group “An online healing co-op”. Different healers and teachers from around the world (twelve different countries participate at the writing of this article) invite three hundred of their own community and are able to teach their practices to the entire group.
In the six weeks since we have been socially distancing, she has created a community of three thousand people. This group has helped people manage their stress through yoga practices to energy healing and everything in between. She has continued healing even though she cannot be there with you. Even though the future is still uncertain, Maria plans on continuing virtual yoga classes and is able to practice energy healing remotely. She is also working on a tee-shirt line with daily affirmations that correspond with each chakra that you may be working on.
Myriam Gutstein – The Orlando Dog Mom and Wuppos.com
Myriam is a force to be reckoned with. If you don’t know her name yet, learn it. She is one of the most enthusiastic and wonderful women that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I first met Myriam just over a year ago, at an event that she organized for several women who loved their dogs that lived in Orlando. This is what she does, she brings people together.
The Original Orlando Dog Mom
She always knew that she was destined to be an entrepreneur. For her, there was no other option. So she set out on her own and started The Orlando Dog Mom. Funny enough, this is how I was introduced to her. She started following my dogs Instagram page. Immediately, I knew that I wanted someone like her in my life. She then grew from walking pups to bringing those dog’s moms together, and made The Orlando Dog Mom Club. Organizing events, creating adorable apparel and formed a community of empowered women. (She even has another group just called The Dog Mom Club – A GLOBAL FAMILY for women outside of the Central Florida area).
The Alpaca With the Need to Paint and Give Back
But then, you know what happened. No more crowds, no more events. She had to rethink how she could still connect with the 40,000 women in her groups. This is where Wuppos comes into play. Now, this venture of hers was already in motion before the pandemic happened however, this is how she was able to continue her endeavors. Wuppos started out as a pet portrait ecommerce site. You could submit a picture of your dog, and you would get an adorable digital image back that you could put on a phone case, or apparel. When the pandemic hit, the warehouse that she used for Wuppos though had to pivot their business as well. In order to stay open, they started creating face shields.
Instead of giving up during this time, Myriam decided to utilize Wuppos to further her business venture. She decided that for every purchase, she would donate face shields to hospitals in need. For every one face shield sold, one would be donated, and for every portrait, three will be donated. The goal is to donate ten thousand face shields to front line workers in New York and around the country. If you are interested in helping the initiative, visit Wuppos to donate!
These business owners are a part of Orlando. These people are what makes us, us. We all have to work together to continue the pride that we all felt months ago. Is there a business owner that you are proud of? Contact us to let us know who we should talk to next!
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