Last November, Molly Brandt was trying to figure out the next steps for her jewelry store after COVID forced her to rethink her business model.
It was just before Thanksgiving when her friend Lizzie dropped a bomb. “The bad news is that I have breast cancer; the good news is I want you to make a bracelet to support me, ”Brandt said.
Now, an online spin-off of Brandt’s company is dedicated to designing handcrafted jewelry for those who collectively mourn the death of a loved one or support someone during illness.
Brandt is the owner of Beadorable at 30 South Main Street. On Monday, she met with U.S. Representative Annie Kuster for a conversation about the challenges facing small businesses in New Hampshire during the pandemic, from supply chain delays to workforce issues and impact. continuous virus as cases increase again.
After interviewing her friend last year, Brandt created a personalized bracelet that she sold to over 200 friends and family. It was a way for Lizzie’s community to show support as she began treatment in January 2021 during a new wave of COVID-19 nationwide.
Now Brandt has created similar bracelets under a new brand called Good Vibes.
“I think what I recognize is that there are a lot of people out there who need some kind of comfort and care,” Brandt said. “When someone is going through these difficult times, you don’t want to interrupt them. You don’t know how to support them. But by just putting on this piece of jewelry you are energetically sending them love, care and wearing a piece of it.
When the pandemic began to end events in 2020, Brandt knew the jewelry business she had owned for 18 years was in trouble. She attended over 60 craft shows a year, where she sold her handmade jewelry. She watched show after show get canceled and worried about paying her bills and her mortgage.
Much like restaurants that have moved to delivery or created alfresco dining areas, it has pivoted to a new model. Today, she sells over 50% of her products online.
Paycheck Protection Program loans and participation in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program last fall have helped her stay afloat. The conversation with Kuster was hosted by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices, which connects small business owners with elected officials from across the country to talk about their challenges in the economic recovery.
Kuster said Monday he heard from other New Hampshire business owners who have started selling products online, including Polly’s Pancake Parlor at Franconia Notch. “It was the most difficult time, and then it opened up opportunities as well,” she said. From beloved businesses flourishing despite uncertainty to decreasing child hunger, there have been benefits in the past 18 months.
“The economy is buzzing,” Kuster said. “The irony of it all right now is that the problems we are having are due to the fact that demand has increased in the economy. The low unemployment rate, along with a decrease in immigration and a mental health and drug addiction crisis, have contributed to the staffing problems of companies, she said.
Then there’s the supply chain disruption: Delivery delays from the U.S. Postal Service made it difficult to ship the holidays last year, and that’s something Brandt worries about as she is considering this Christmas season.
“People were very supportive last year. I don’t think they’ll be backing this year, shipping everything and being a week or two overdue, ”she said.
Brandt hopes the issues facing small businesses remain in the public conversation, even as the economy recovers and the worst effects of COVID abate.
“We’re still going through this, so keep supporting the locals, keep donating,” she said. “We were good people back then,” Brandt joked.
“Let’s see if we can’t stick with this,” Kuster said.