We recently sat down with Xiomara Rosa-Tedla, cofounder of UnoEth, to find out how her company is dealing with the challenges of COVID and get more of a sense for how the pandemic is affecting small businesses. Being an entrepreneur means dealing with whatever comes your way and Xiomara embodies this ideal.
First, how are you doing right now?
Every day is very different. Some days I’m hyper productive, positive and killing it and other days I can barely get out of bed. It can be a struggle to be somewhat in the middle of the two extremes, but thankfully, I’m learning how to manage it day-by-day. It’s all about rituals for me that keep me sane and mostly on track in the midst of a global pandemic and fighting systemic injustice.
What are some things you are doing at home to keep busy and to keep your sanity?
I have been spending so much time in my backyard! Gardening is one of my most favorite ways to spend my time because it is so peaceful. I love the outdoors and I feel so satisfied taking care of my plant babies and seeing them grow. It’s a lot of work, but such a joy at the same time.
How has COVID-19 affected you and your business?
The first major impact was caused by shelter-in-place. Being that we have a heavy schedule of pop-up events throughout the year, everything was immediately postponed and/or cancelled. This was a big hit to how we generate sales as a brand, so strategizing how to recover those lost sales at events was a major scramble for us. Secondly, shelter-in-place also impacted our artisan partners in Addis Ababa as well, which delayed our production schedule by three months! Now that things are somewhat getting back to normal, with lots of restrictions, we’re in a much better place.
What has been the biggest challenge COVID-19 has presented?
The biggest challenge for us during this time was pivoting our business to adjust to the changes and hurdles and at the same time, trying not to freak out as the entire world was losing its mind. Our main questions were: how do we stay in business in this economy and how do we support our business partners here in the U.S. and in Addis Ababa?
What are you doing to respond to these changes?
Since pop-ups are not in our foreseeable future, we’re putting all of our efforts online. This entails investing more in inventory and new styles, marketing, and in helping our artisan partners in whatever way we can by submitting large purchase orders and by procuring equipment and tools for their studio.
What is something you have learned about your business from this experience?
That we have some of the most amazing customers and community. I’ve always known this, but we definitely felt the love and support when sh*t hit the fan. From spreading the word about our brand, online purchases, gift cards, sending us thoughtful messages and emails, we were moved to tears.
What is something you have learned about yourself from this experience?
I learned how important it is to take your time and stay in your lane. We’re so used to the hustle and living a fast-paced life, but what’s more important is this current moment.
Where is the first place you are going when it’s safe to go out again?
As much as I immediately want to get dressed up with my friends and head to our favorite restaurant followed up by a night of dancing or fly to the nearest tropical Island, I’m going to keep staying inside for a little while longer. Just to be extra safe, ya know?
By Layla Haqqanni