I was at home asleep March 3rd as a severe storm began to approach Nashville, Tennessee and my small business.
The storms worsened as they approached us, producing an EF-4 tornado destroying the heart of Nashville.
I found out about the tornado around 2 a.m. I woke up with a feeling of fear and felt like I was in a nightmare. My phone was blowing up with calls and missed messages. Our small business community has a group chat, and people were talking about our friends and neighbors demolished buildings. I just knew that my business had been blown away by the storm.
I immediately turned on the news and watched in horror. I quickly realized that this was indeed real and not a nightmare like I had hoped. Watching the local news crews covering the damage on my street and seeing my neighbors’ buildings demolished was a lot for me to comprehend. My heart was shattered!
The Kind Poppy is in the same vicinity as Burger Up, Soda Parlor and BoomBozz. These buildings were completely leveled to the ground. These are my small business neighbors and all major news outlets were standing on our block. It was a sobering experience.
As daylight approached I went driving to check on my business and a popular mural that I drive past every day was barely intact. That was the most devastating damage seeing The Basement East’s demolished building. It was the first building that I saw completely destroyed. The ominous yet beautiful ‘I Believe In Nashville’ was barely intact and brought immediate tears.
“I Believe In Nashville" became our cities anthem of hope after the floods in 2010. We felt the outpouring of love all over the world after our deadly tornado. We needed it. I needed it! Even though we were standing in the rubble of our livelihoods we were hopeful. Our community has the most amazing and selfless human beings.
Our shops location received significant damage, just like many of the surrounding businesses. However, it could have been a lot worse for us. I still had a standing building and I'm forever grateful. We had busted out windows, ripped siding, large debris and damage that could be fixed. We were less than 100 feet from the tornado’s path, and we are very lucky.
By morning there were many cleanup efforts already in progress across Nashville and other areas affected, I saw the beauty in what makes Tennessee the Volunteer State. I witnessed a lot of hope that day. Neighbors were helping each other move debris, looking for pets and helping first responders. Local restaurants were passing out food, and sports teams were opening up their stadiums. Nashville is a caring city and we take care of one another.
We have so many selfless volunteers and businesses around Nashville, and The Kind Poppy wanted to do our part. Even though we were in need ourselves we knew we were one of the lucky ones. I organized friends and family to help us collect donations, sign up volunteers and passed out our handcrafted soaps. At that time the coronavirus was a distant fear. However, we were having a hard time getting access to cleaning supplies, toiletries, and basic medical equipment like bandages and alcohol swabs. We wanted people to have access to soap and clothing!
The Kind Poppy focuses on bath and beauty products, and we were donating our soaps and supplies to local shelters and anyone in our community that needed supplies. The need for basic hand soap started to become increasingly more as the days progressed. We had to shut our doors for two weeks as emergency crews started cleaning the area and restoring power, gas leeks, and connected water lines.
We were forced to rely on online sales and clever ways to grow our social media and online presence. I discovered numerous resources that were helping small businesses and especially women owned businesses. I was able to invest my extra time into online master classes, educational books, and marketing videos. I was still hopeful despite everything that had happened. I wanted to use this time to educate myself on new topics and help my business succeed.
The mayor of Nashville allowed us to reopen our Woodland Street businesses, on March 14th. Unfortunately, we were only open for two days until we had to close for the second time this month. This time was due to Covid-19 and we still have so many questions just like the rest of America, and the world.
Luckily, I had been resourceful and had already been looking into online sales analytics and preparing for an influx of online orders. If I hadn't had gone through the devastation of the tornado I wouldn't be as prepared as I am today.
I am scared! However, I'm incredibly hopeful that we all can come out of this successful. I want to encourage business owners to get creative and to take advantage of this "extra" time. Now is the time to grow and to NOT give up. Now is the time to put your hustle where your mouth is! We will succeed as small businesses but we have to work extra hard during this unknowing time.
I encourage you to look into business resources and classes. With every person being affected by this virus many national programs are offering free master classes, highly discounted courses, and free webinars. Take advantage of these growth opportunities! I've been delivering local orders in my neighboring towns and offering new discounts on my online store. Collaborate with other small businesses, bloggers, and content creators. Be creative and have fun with your marketing!
While The Kind Poppy is focusing on online sales for now, I encourage everyone to volunteer in lending a helping hand and also shop locally to support your local economy as it rebuilds. America is made up of local businesses, and a lot of people lost their jobs and livelihoods. Please continue to shop local in the weeks and months to come.
Just like the “I Believe In Nashville” mural being spared, I hold on to small business overcoming destruction.
I have so much pride and appreciation for our community and our country. During so much tragedy, we have seen people come together and help one another — that’s beautiful. I also want to remind people to be kind and to always look out for the silver lining in life. Nashville is a wonderful place to live, and I’m happy to be here. American small business owners can get through this! "I Believe In Small Business"