annika connor of annika's art shop
Annika Connor, founder of Annika's Art Shop, explains how she has made the best of limited resources to adapt to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. — Annika’s Art Shop

Fine artist Annika Connor is a true "DIY" entrepreneur. She designed and beta-tested numerous product designs for her collection of apparel, homeware, gifts and accessories, all of which are based on her watercolor and oil paintings. She even taught herself how to code and learned about search engine optimization to build her own e-commerce website.

With all the work she had put into Annika’s Art Shop, Connor wasn't going to let the pandemic put her dream on hold, even when she had to cancel her April launch party in New York. Instead, she rolled out her website with a soft launch via email to introduce herself and her business.

[Read: Starting a Business During a Pandemic? What to Consider First]

Because Connor's apparel factory in Montreal, Canada was shut down until May 15, she immediately posted a notice about the closure and changed her plan for which products she wanted to market first.

"I created a waitlist for customers who still wanted clothing items despite the production delay and then I encouraged everyone else to shop my accessories, gifts and homeware departments instead," said Connor.

The only products Connor featured were ones made in American factories, which were in more remote areas and therefore more accessible. This allowed her to focus only on feasible production and sales.

[Read: NOLA Beauty Entrepreneur Bridges the 'Digital Divide' for Young Girls in Her Community]

Look for creative solutions to how you can work with the hand you have been dealt.

Annika Connor, founder, Annika's Art Shop

Adapting to the times with limited resources

COVID has shut down many small businesses, but this has given many entrepreneurs the time to adapt and prepare for this new business climate. When Connor’s apparel factory reopened in May, Connor was able to add 100% cotton machine-washable masks to her collection, which was a major hit given the high demand for reusable face coverings. This shift in offerings has helped keep Connor’s business relevant. She identified a common problem for her consumers (finding high-quality face coverings) and offered a quick solution (comfortable and sustainable masks).

However, marketing her apparel has been challenging and created even more work for this already-busy entrepreneur. To keep up, the ever-resourceful Connor has been using herself and a few friends to model the clothing for self-styled photo shoots, since she is unable to safely book shoots with professional models and photographers. This has slowed down her efforts, but Connor isn't discouraged by what is not available to her right now.

"Look for creative solutions to how you can work with the hand you have been dealt," she said. "Learn how to do as much of the business yourself, so that when you do delegate projects down the road, you already understand that end of your business."

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