As a retail hub for independent brands and community gatherings, transitioning to an online-only format during a global pandemic was a challenge for Steadfast Supply owner Virginia Arrisueno. Yet, over the course of the past few months, she’s been able to find silver linings, perseverance and new methods for staying connected with loyal clients, which has a location in The Yards of DC, as well as Ballston Quarter. Below, find highlights of it all .
Talk about the initial steps you took when the pandemic first started to transition your business into this new normal. What was that process like for you?
We had to pivot a lot. I like to say that the word of the year is “pivot.” After initially closing our two locations during the stay-at-home mandate, we pivoted toward virtual shopping. Our Virtual Shopping Service was simple, but required a lot of work. It included a phone call appointment, where our customers would be paired with one of our virtual shoppers (aka me), who worked with them to curate a care box. The virtual shopper would ask them a few important questions about their gift recipient. Based upon their answers and price budget, our virtual shopper would curate a care box and share via our video platform. Once they were content with their selections, we would share an invoice by email to pay. While continuing to offer virtual shopping, we also created an online shop within days, ultimately offering nationwide shipping.
The whole process was grueling. It felt like starting from scratch. My team worked hard, and I worked very long hours. Though there were many days that I would question if we would get through the shutdown, I was amazed by the support that we were given by our community. We had a lot of wonderful customers who stuck by us and supported us through orders, online reviews, social media comments and more.
How has your business strategy changed over the past four months?
Our business strategy has always been about pivoting and adjusting to changing times. That is part of being an entrepreneur; however, 2020 really tested how adaptable we really could be, and if we were able to pivot not just once in a while but multiple times, sometimes within a day. Currently, I am continuing doing what I have always done in the past, however, amplifying how I react to changes and making sure that I have a stronger safety net.
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Swipe left to see the before and after photos of our spaces. ✨It’s been a few rough months. We had to pivot “many” times, and it has been exhausting – like an endless marathon. There were times that I felt like I had my situation all under control. And then, there were many times that I felt like the total opposite. But after seeing these before and after photos, I am reminded that “pivoting” is an integral part of being an entrepreneur. Quick fact: Did you know that we had to move our The Yards location and reopen within six days back in 2018? Yep, it was tough, but we did it. ✨Having to problem solve daily, being able to think outside of the box, and constantly maintaining a positive mindset is what I have to do to get through each day. And whenever I am feeling defeat, I always turn towards positive quotes as a reminder to stay resilient. For example, the following quote. If you’re a fan of Rocky like I am, then you will recognize these words: ✨”Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” – Rocky Balboa ✨I know, I am a nerd – lol. But after a day, a few weeks, or several rough months, this quote always helps me to stay positive. ✨We are currently getting ready for phase two in Washington, DC and reopening Ballston Quarter next week. Though it’s been hard, we are incredibly grateful for all the support provided by our wonderful customers. We sincerely appreciate it, and hope to see all of you in our shops soon! ✨With love 🖤 Virginia.
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Steadfast Supply is typically a community hub where many workshops take place. What has it been like putting those events on pause, yet still maintaining connected with the local community?
It was sad to put our events on hold. However, we have to be realistic. The safety of our customers, our team and partners comes first. The original concept of hosting events at our spaces just doesn’t work now, but there are many ways we continue to connect with our community. First, through in-store experiences where we provide great customer service to our patrons. At both locations we have implemented many safety measures, including that we ask every customer to wear a face mask, we provide complimentary face masks, we provide hand sanitizer throughout our shops and we monitor customer access and occupancy limits.
And for those who are not comfortable shopping in-store, we offer many ways to shop online and stay connected. We continue to upload products to our online shop weekly and we stay active on our social media platforms informing our customers of any new updates. In addition, we send out weekly newsletters so that our community can stay in touch.
Are there any new brands or products you’ve recently added to the shops?
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