We’re not called The Adaptables for nothing!
A new series with PayPal, “The Adaptables,” in which I am speaking with various PayPal merchants about how they have pivoted and succeeded during this pandemic seems to have struck a nerve.
Indeed, I am happy to report that I have received quite a bit of positive feedback from my tribe, sharing how these stories of resilience have been both interesting, and inspiring.
I couldn’t agree more.
The entrepreneurs I have been speaking with were hit hard and unexpectedly by the pandemic – like everyone else – but what is so inspirational is just how well, and how quickly, they pivoted, adapted, and thrived.
Take today’s latest installment for example. Not only did Gina Ozhuthual completely revamp her business both on and offline on the fly, but she grew it more than 300% in the process!
Gina started her small business Bohemian Mama and BohemianMama.com, in her garage in 2015. By 2020, pre-pandemic, she had figured out her niche: Both her physical store as well as her online shop, sold sustainable, ethically sourced products for mother, children, and home. Essentially, then, 70% of her product line was geared toward mom, and 30% towards the kids and home.
By listening to her customers, Gina realized that their buying habits were rapidly changing. Instead of work clothes, they need active loungewear as they were now working at home, and instead of buy more for themselves, being the moms they were, they started buying much more for their kids – clothes and toys especially.
So Gina adapted.
In short order, she flipped the script. Her store now carries roughly 60% products for kids and home, and 40% for mom.
But to do make that change, Gina needed new suppliers. So another quick adaptation she made was to lean into drop shipping as a viable, affordable, logistically-smart solution.
For those that don’t know, drop shipping is a system where an online store like Bohemian Mama can list products from manufacturers who drop ship, but the trick is that they do not actually have to buy and stock that inventory. The drop shipper continues to carry the inventory and when a sale comes in, the drop shipper ships the product from its warehouse and then splits the sale with a seller like Gina.
This arrangement allows BohemianMama.com to carry more than 5,000 products on its site, without having to buy all that expensive inventory.
For Gina, pandemic success has all been about having great partners – loyal customers who loved her products, manufacturers who would drop ship, and PayPal, whose PayPal Working Capital program has allowed Gina the opportunity to start, run, grow, and expand her business, even into a private label brand this year.
So it seems that the lesson is that the key to success, not only during this pandemic but beyond, is to have great partners and, yes, be adaptable.
You can check out my interview with Gina Ozhuthual here.
By: Steve Strauss
Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible.