Entrepreneurs and COVID-19 - Interview with Jenny Yen of Two of Hearts Boutique

Please share a bit about yourself as an entrepreneur and what your business entails - brick and mortar store, online, product, etc..

Two of Hearts is a designer owned women's boutique that supports local, sustainable and ethically produced clothing, accessories and products. I also design and make our house brand CiCi Clothing. I have a back studio where I work on original clothing designs and prototypes. I also do some wholesale to local boutiques in Canada and also sell to a boutique in Seattle currently.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, how did you work with your regular clients and reach out to new ones. What type of marketing worked best for you?

Our boutique like so many other was open to the public, 7 days a week for brick and mortar. We did not have an on-line store. I had to set up an on-line store fast!! It was accomplished in about 2 weeks with the help of a good friend who has web expertise. Not all products are all loaded but it was just launched.

We reach our customers through our newsletter and social media, FB and IG. Besides word of mouth by our loving customers this is the best marketing for us. Our clients love coming into the store getting excellent and friendly customer service. They loved being helped with styling and finding clothing that flatters them. Not many of them shop on-line and don't see a need as they can come into our physical store and get the full shopping experience, touch and feel and try things on to see how it feels and looks.

How has the social isolations required to combat the spread of COVID-19 affected your business? What about this has been hardest for you personally?

The hardest part to not being open to physically help the customers and having our entire store merchandise available to them. That's big! So is cash flow. No revenue or sales!!! It takes just as much work opening an on-line shop as it is to open a completely new store. 

It is also hard balancing keeping safe and healthy, not being too stressed out while being productive. I've had lots of insomnia and worry. Balancing self care and also being kick ass as a business women is really challenging right now!

Have you found new ways to interact with your customer? Have you developed any new products or services as a way to help your clients through this time, or to fill a new need you see?

Having a our new product, like our Contour Fabric Face Masks are saving us right now, along with our loyal customers who have bought some clothes and gift certificates. With everything going virtual it is hard to get supplies, skilled sewers or factories to make products. I wish I could just clone myself. I am almost a one woman show right now. 

 My first couple batches of fabric masks are handmade by myself! The first batch sold out in 2 days. I am scrambling to do the second batch and working on producing the 3rd at a small locally run factory. I have been interacting with customers through social media and by phone. I am now giving excellent customer service virtually!

What type of marketing seems to be working best for you in this time of social isolation?

Social media is the best I think to market during isolation. I will be exploring doing videos soon (again, something new and challenging for me).

Anything you'd like readers to know about you and your business? Any last words of encouragement you'd like to share with everyone?

I had to change and adapt to keep my business alive. I am learning how to sell on-line. It's something completely new and challenging for me and not yet my strong point. Right now I am giving my customers what they need and want, such as the fabric face masks and comfortable essential basics from my Cici Clothing brand. 

I am working towards having almost my entire boutique on-line so it is available virtually. Anything you can do to contribute to make people happy, make their lives easier or ways to support them will help to have your business survive and thrive I believe. 

Last words: Take it one day at a time. Breathe and most importantly take care of yourself so you can take care of others!