New businesses battle uphill
Loss of business hit across the board in the wake of COVID-19, but options for Marion County’s young entrepreneurs and recent startups were limited by not having a well-established brand or customer base.
Megan Semer and sister Grace Overton made occasional porch deliveries for West Main Co., their recently opened store at 126 W. Main St. in Marion. But business was significantly less than when the business opened in December.
“Not many, probably like eight to ten a week,” Semer said. “We definitely had a drop off in business, but we’re thankful that this is my dad’s building so we don’t have too many bills and stuff to pay.”
West Main Co. tried heavily to increase its business via social media, she said. But results weren’t as good.
Hillsboro senior and photographer Jessi Dalke also tried to boost her business online but had a tough time getting online herself, which decreased her exposure.
Between helping out at her mother’s greenhouse and around the house and trying to finish class work, Dalke, who was finishing her junior year of high school, said she found few occasions to promote her business.
“I find myself focusing on practicing my art more than that,” she said. “I need to be good at what I do before people know about me. Maybe that’s wrong, but that’s just how I go about it.”
Lacking an established reputation is difficult because it limits Dalke’s ability to choose assignments.
“It is harder to get exactly what you want when you aren’t as well known,” she said. “When you have your name out there, then you have the power to say no to someone wanting a toddler session or something. That’s not my expertise.”
Dalke didn’t take any clients in April or May but wasn’t worried about saving up for expenses because she already had bought a new camera and lens in January. However, she said, there is often some new purchase she can make or resources that can be upgraded.
“There are always more lenses and equipment, and I’m thinking of a client closet,” she said “There’s always more I should go out and get.”
A client closet is a selection of outfits Dalke would keep on hand in case customers want to change attire.
Last modified June 11, 2020