12 Ways to Support Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Today brings a more serious post, and one that we reflected on and planned for quite a bit before sharing it. Our hearts go out to those who have passed and those that have lost loved ones due to COVID-19. We in no way wish to minimize the damage that the pandemic has done to communities across the world.

That being said, we have seen lots of discussion among the indie community about how to support small businesses during a time where it seems as if the whole world has shut down. So, we decided to create a guide of sorts on how to support small business – and each other – during this period of uncertainty.

We will first discuss the likelihood of transmission of the disease through packages (it’s extremely low). We have then broken down this blog post in different sections based largely on one’s financial situation, as we recognize that the pandemic has caused many businesses to shut down and thus put many out of work. First, we will discuss ways in which one can support indies without needing to spend money. Next, we will discuss how you can support indies if you have a bit of extra cash lying around. Throughout this whole post, we will mention a few of our favorite indies, but don’t let our suggestions limit you!

*This post is not sponsored. If you appreciate our content and what we do, please consider supporting us on Patreon.

COVID-19 and Packages

There has been quite a bit of discussion surrounding whether or not COVID-19 is transmissible through contact with surfaces. This excellent post on r/indiemakeupandmore by u/sihaya09, the owner of Sihaya & Co., discusses the virus’s longevity on surfaces, particularly those common in packages sent out by indies. We highly recommend giving it a thorough reading, and specific sources are linked within the post itself if you would like to inform yourself further.

Essentially, the virus is extremely unlikely to survive on packaging for longer than three days, about the time a package needs to be shipped. Furthermore, the common temperature fluctuations that occur during shipping are not good for the virus and decrease its chances of survival. If you are concerned about the outermost packaging (such as the box or envelope a product is shipping in) – we totally understand! – feel free to leave the box outside for 2-3 days. Wash your hands before and after handling the box as well. You can also sanitize the outside and inside with rubbing alcohol.

How to Support Indies Without Spending Money

We want to make it clear that we in no way believe that you have to spend money in order to support indies during this time. Plenty of people are struggling with job losses due to business closures, so if you cannot afford to spend money at this time, don’t spend it. There are other ways to support the indie community if you so wish, many of which are commonly discussed outside of the circumstances of this post.

1. Share an indie’s post on social media.

It can be as simple as sharing something on your Instagram story or on your Facebook feed. This helps get the word out to people that a brand exists!

2. Leave a like or comment on a brand’s post.

We are sure that you’ve heard the whole engagement thing over and over again. But there is a reason. The more interaction a post has, the more algorithms show it to new people. Drop a like or a comment on an indie’s post to help boost it. Also, everyone is dealing with fear and uncertainty right now; kind words in a comment will brighten a brand owner’s day and inspire others to be kind.

3. Talk about and review the products you already own from indies, whether on social media or otherwise.

Most of you reading this likely already own things created by small businesses. Share a review of them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or even Reddit! For many people, the barrier to trying indies is a lack of reviews, so sharing your experiences with brands you already use really helps. (BTW, the Indie Directory is going to be getting lots of work in the next few weeks, so eventually, you will also be able to share your reviews there!)

4. Recommend an indie’s products to a friend who is looking for something similar to what that indie offers.

If you have a friend who has been looking for a specific product, from bath and body, to home care, to clothes, suggest that they look into indies! It might take them a little more time to sift through the plethora of options to find the perfect item, but they are likely to fall in love with the product they end up purchasing. This is particularly helpful if you have had experience with an indie that offers that product as well, as you can tell your friend about your own experiences with the indie and its products.

Consider the Following Options to Support Indies If You Have Some Extra Money in Your Pocket:

5. Purchase a gift card from an indie you would like to try in the future.

A lot of indies are facing manufacturing and lab closures right now, cutting off their product and raw materials supplies and depleting their stock. If there is an indie that has been on your wish list for a long time and you’ve got some extra change lying around, consider purchasing a gift card from them so you can pick up some items when raw materials and supplies are more readily available. Some indies that offer gift cards include the Indie Shelf Philly (an independently-owned store that focuses solely on products from independently-owned businesses!), Sydney Grace Co., Brujita Skincare, and Necromancy Cosmetica.

6. Send a family member a gift in the mail from a small business.

We’ve seen quite a few people talking about sending gifts to one another in the mail during this time. If you’re one of those people, consider buying from an indie for your gift. There are so many options to choose from, so whatever you are looking for, there is likely to be just what you are looking for. Also, indies provide the opportunity to give some a special, heartfelt gift that’s perfect for them and their interests. Just a few days ago, Liv gave her friend Anita’s Apothecary Yoga Mat Cleaning Spray, Wild Lavender Bath Brew, and Mercury Retrograde Grounding Oil for her birthday, which she loved and will get great use out of at this time.

You can also get someone special a custom perfume from Stereoplasm once they are back in stock (Giulia did this for her mom – a post about the experience will be coming as soon the process is over!) or get a sample set from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab – or any other perfume house, for that matter! If you aren’t sure what to get for someone but still want them to have the opportunity to try an indie, try seeing if that indie has gift cards available (mentioned above).

7. Use indies to supply your household needs.

There are a ton of indies out there that sell soap and hand sanitizer. Rather than getting such products from your local grocery store or supermarket, consider buying them from a small business. If you are concerned about whether or not an indie hand sanitizer is powerful enough, check out this page from the CDC, which states that a hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol in order to be effective. Double-check ingredients list to make sure that the indie product you are buying fits those guidelines and you should be good to go!

Liv personally purchases and uses household products from a bunch of indies, that are usually better than the store-bought kind! Some favorites are the dish and multipurpose soap bar and the produce soap bar from Sea Witch Botanicals. They’re both really effective and last a long time. Liv uses hand sanitizers from Twisted Wonderland Perfumery, and they offer them in any scent from their catalog! Yore Organics makes a variety of laundry detergents and sprays that Liv loves – their stain remover works wonderfully and they make tiny travel bottles for getting rid of stains on the go.

8. Take this time to revamp your wardrobe and consider some indie options.

So many people are taking this time to tackle some spring cleaning and decluttering projects. Many are focusing on their wardrobes, and we both knew indies make some excellent clothes, whether you are looking for upcycled clothes, thrifted clothes, or ethically-made new clothes.

Liv recently purchased a few secondhand pieces that she loves from the Real Real for her upcoming trip to Colombia – now sadly canceled – but she still loves the items she purchased! We’ve both been working on paring down and curating our wardrobes for over a year now, with the goal of loving everything we own and getting great use out of it. Some of our favorite clothes are secondhand or vintage, and the Real Real does an amazing job of authenticating designers and specific collections, as well as pristinely cleaning everything before resale.

Giulia loves indies that focus on upcycling clothing. One of her favorite shops is Unearth Nature. The owner upcycles donated or thrifted clothes by embroidering phrases or images on them. She also does custom orders – you can send her a shirt you want to be embroidered or select from her offerings and get a custom design. Linen Fox is another great indie brand that works with, well, linen. Giulia has a skirt from them she loves; it is great quality and fits perfectly. The style is right up her alley as well.

9. Include indies in your anti-stress rituals.

Indies are definitely a go-to for us when it comes to self-care and anti-stress rituals. From bath and body products, to incense, to candles, to tea, indies have it all. Also, Liv loves to include handmade things in her spiritual practices and meditation, which makes her feel connected to other creators. One of her favorite small shops for ‘supplies’ is Grey Moon Botanica, which has a 25% off sale and is donating 50% of their proceeds to the artistic community being impacted by the pandemic. They have beautiful teas, herbs, fragrances and more.

She also loves Anita’s Apothecary, whom we mentioned previously. She just placed an order for their Elderberry Syrup and their ‘Cleansing Ritual on the Road‘ kit, as she’s staying with a friend away from home and forgot to bring cleansing essentials. Wyther has stunning jewelry inspired by the shop owner’s love of all things Victorian and Witchy, as well as candles and bath salts. Black Baccara focuses on perfume, but the owner also creates magickal oils that correspond with different intentions, and she often releases seasonal bath soaks and oils for Pagan holidays and astrological events. Liv has loved everything she’s tried from her shop! Many indies make incredible tea blends, including Grey Moon Botanica and Anita’s Apothecary.

Sea Witch Botanicals offers a huge variety of handmade incense and they currently have a buy 3 packs get 1 free special.

10. If you’re a crafter or artist, consider buying supplies and kits from indies.

Giulia is a knitter, a crocheter, and is learning embroidery. Liv is a painter. Tons of indies sell kits, patterns, and materials for artwork and craft projects.

Ravelry has a ton of patterns (some are free as well!) that you can purchase from indie designers and creators if you are interested in crocheting or knitting. Check out your local yarn store’s website (if applicable) to support them during this time as well – many local yarn stores are already having a tough time making ends meet, and shelter-at-home orders and social distancing habits are pushing away their customer base (NOTE: please DO NOT try to circumvent such protective measures in order to shop).

There are also tons of independent yarn and thread companies out there. Through Rain or Shine has some beautiful embroidery kits and patterns. Slow Evenings Embroidery also creates stunning, slightly-more-abstract-but -not-really patterns (Giulia loves their cacti ones). Loopy Mango makes beautiful yarn and has some awesome sweater patterns if you’re a knitter. Quince and Co. also carries stunning yarns, including linen and cotton options. For something a little different, check out Hello Bargello, where you can create your own jewelry and decorations using a vintage technique.

11. Replenish your makeup staples using indie products.

Maybe you’re running low on mascara or concealer, or that lipstick shade you’ve been meaning to find a dupe of. Look into indies to find a replacement! You can also use the quarantine as a way to “experiment” with makeup – Giulia does this a lot to get her mind off of what is happening, even before this particular situation. If you try a product that doesn’t work perfectly for you, no one will see. You can also use this time to get comfortable experimenting with colors and styles you wouldn’t normally wear to work or in your day to day errand running.

Liv is personally planning another purchase for My Pretty Zombie, as they make her all time favorite eyeshadows that always push her to experiment with color in a new way. Want to finally try some loose makeup products? Enter Double Down Cosmetics, who make Giulia’s favorite loose eyeshadow formula and Liv’s favorite highlighter. Maybe you want to finally dip your toes in the cream world; in that case, Giulia recommends checking out Roen Beauty, Rituel de Fille, or Tower 28 Beauty, just to name a few (check out our lip and cheek tints post here for some more recommendations and reviews). Or perhaps it’s time to look into some zero/low waste beauty – look into Fat and the Moon or .

12. Support Creators and Artists.

Right now, tours are being cancelled around the world, musicians can’t teach in person lessons or classes, brands have put a stop to advertising spend, which means influencers lose their main source of income. You don’t need to spend money to support creators. Consider following them on every platform they have, share links to their music or content, and if you can, purchase their music, merch, or subscriptions. Liv watched one of her favorite bands stream a ‘pay what you can’ album release show on twitch. The original show was cancelled, but they played the show in the empty venue, and it was awesome. Views count, likes count, subscribers count. Many musicians and artists teach online through platforms like Lessonface and Skillshare, that offer everything from private one on one streamed lessons, live group classes, and free classes. Full disclosure – Liv works at Lessonface, which in itself is a small, woman owned startup. Lessonface just launched GO Classes – GO stands for Group Online – offered at a pay what you can sliding scale in 20 different subjects by teachers around the world, for a variety of age groups! Classes meet weekly through Zoom, so it’s a good chance to take this time to learn something new, continue your education, and connect with others.

This is a ton of info, and there’s more that we missed. During this time, we have to remember to stay connected and support each other. It’s so easy to get lost in fear, and when that happens, talk to someone about it. The entire world is experiencing this pandemic, and the more we can lift each other up, the better. Talking to friends on Google Hangouts or FaceTime, joining Zoom meetings and groups, and checking in on our loved ones has carried us through the past few weeks. Oh, and one more thing. STAY INSIDE.

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