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Meet 2 metro Detroit women who have expanded their small business during the pandemic

Posted at 6:47 AM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 07:03:51-04

(WXYZ) — All week long on 7 Action News, we're highlighting "Women in the Workplace."

Related: Women in the Workplace: Local mothers talk work-life balance

We're digging into what metro Detroit women are facing and how those obstacles have shifted during the pandemic. From childcare to maintaining a work-life balance or re-entering and leaving the workforce; we're tackling it all with a new topic each day.

Related: Women in the workplace: How stereotypical gender roles are changing with remote work

Rounding out the week, we speak with two women who ran successful businesses out of their homes during the pandemic, and what the future looks like for them.

The women have pretty different businesses. One was already established before the pandemic, and another became a full-time business during it. Both rely heavily on personal contact, so the women had to get creative.

Related: Women in the Workplace: How childcare problems may impact the bounce back

“I created a private, customized video of selections that I would pull out of that collection for them," Anne Morley said.

Morley is no tech wiz, and like a lot of us, she never anticipated having to conduct day-to-day business through a screen. She represents a designer line of women's clothes, and her clients, they're not your typical online shoppers.

Related: Women in the Workplace: Employers' role in avoiding a 'she-cession'

“I bring a sample set into my home and conduct a trunk show," she said. “My clients are the people who want to come and touch and feel the fabrics.”

So when they couldn't any longer because of the pandemic, Morley went to work. She made her own makeshift tripod and used her iPad to record dozes of videos. Next, she had to figure out how to safely get her clients their items.

“Some people would drive up to my home in their car, they’d pop the trunk open. Other people would say here’s my garage code, so would you go and just hang them in the garage," she said.

Other times, she'd just leave the clothes on her wreath hook.

Technology hasn't been great in many ways during the pandemic. It's allowed people in many ways to feel connected, and it allowed people like Morley to keep their businesses going.

People like Lashay heard. She's a working mom of two, and turned her side gig into a full-time money maker.

We first introduced you to Lashay last month. Her mobile-turned-virtual "Paint N' Sip" business really cook off. She offers virtual painting classes and take-home paint kits for people to follow.

According to Lashay, she's getting business from everywhere, especially people locally.

In a more corporate setting, Karen Gray, the VP of HR at Matrix Human Services, says technology has also taken something away. They haven't stopped hiring, but virtual onboarding doesn't feel the same.

“We’ve gone that extra mile, and I know other organizations have too, to make them still feel inclusive even though they have no clue what their office looks like, what the building looks like," Gray said.

Morley said she's had to work a lot harder, but brought in about the same in revenue as she did before the pandemic, but it wasn't without trial and error.

Both Anne and Lashay are working to shift their businesses back to how it was before the pandemic.

Anne said she's doing trunk shows at her home, if the client is comfortable, and Lashay said they're debuting their mobile paint and sip bus later this summer.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.