Here's how local women are helping other women lift up their small businesses during the pandemic

Posted at 4:47 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 18:34:12-05

(WXYZ) — We launched The Rebound Detroit nearly a year ago as an effort to help you navigate these trying times, connecting you with the resources to get back on your feet.

In tonight’s report, we’re taking a look at the resources out there for women-owned businesses on this international women’s day, including a look at how one local organization is helping female entrepreneurs not only survive but thrive amidst this pandemic.

For Katrina Anderson, owner of tea supplier, Comodi-teas, the pandemic was no tea party.

“We were just starting to get traction through pop-up events,’ she says. “When the quarantine started a lot of the events were shut down.”

Momentum gained quickly turned into momentum lost Katrina thought about calling it quits.

“We needed support, not just financially but also someone to look at our new business plan,” she says.

Thankfully, one support network came running. Carolyn Cassin is the force behind Michigan Women Forward.

“The impact has been devastating,” she says. “There’s no other word to say it.”

The numbers do all the talking, nearly three million American women estimated to have left the labor force - many of them due to caregiving responsibilities - and female entrepreneurs? Certainly not left out of that statistic.

“Our home lives and some of the multitasking that we have to do makes it difficult at times to really focus on developing that business idea,” says Anderson.

But as the economy begins to reopen, and kids return to school, those entrepreneurs are looking to breathe new life into their existing business -- while others, once on the 9 to 5 grind are looking to jump-start a new one.

“Women seeing the opportunity in the midst of a crisis really,” says Cassin. “And so, a lot of people are setting up online.”

It’s created quite a demand for resources.

“We’re seeing more women that want and need help from us,” Cassin says.

But the Michigan Women Forward team is rising to the challenge - raising a 1.5 million dollar fund to help women find funding, mentorship and develop their business strategy.

For Katrina, it meant pivoting into wholesale amidst the pandemic, supported by a WMF microloan and grant - which she credits with her business’s revival.

“We ended 2019 in the hole by $300,” she says. “we ended 2020 with our sales up 1700% and it is largely because of the support we found.”

I’m happy to report that Katrina also just signed a deal with Wayfair to carry her tea products.

I also want to mention that Michigan Women Forward is a non-profit working completely on donor support. So, if you’re interested in giving to their mission or if you’re a woman in a position to offer free mentorship services, they’d really like to hear from you. You can find out more on their website.

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.