How an L.A. indie bookstore’s GoFundMe influenced a little company lifeline

On a Tuesday morning in September, Raymond Wurwand was in his Southern California dwelling sipping tea and looking at the newspaper when he happened upon a tale about having difficulties independent bookstores. The print headline examine: “Backbone-tingling bookstore woes: Some shops, which includes Diesel, are turning to fundraising to survive. Shelve 2020 as horror.”



a group of people sitting at a table: Jane and Raymond Wurwand at a local restaurant. The Dermalogica owners have committed $1 million in grant support to L.A. small businesses struggling due to the pandemic. (Lucy Wurwand)


© (Lucy Wurwand)
Jane and Raymond Wurwand at a nearby cafe. The Dermalogica homeowners have dedicated $1 million in grant guidance to L.A. modest businesses struggling owing to the pandemic. (Lucy Wurwand)

He turned to his spouse, Jane Wurwand, and said: “We have acquired to do a thing.”

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In partnership with Pacific Community Ventures and TMC Community Cash, the house owners of pores and skin-treatment organization Dermalogica determined to start Discovered/L.A. Tiny Business Recovery Fund, a $1-million grant program to enable smaller minority-owned organizations in Los Angeles County remain open during the pandemic. Among the eligibility needs: Applicants will have to personal at least 50% of a brick-and-mortar store, use less than 20 persons, and provide proof of profitability in advance of the pandemic. The Wurwands gained 2,430 apps for the initial spherical of grants — from restaurants, salons and cafes as properly as gyms, retail stores and working day-treatment centers. Ten were being randomly picked. Applications for the second cycle open Jan. 11.

“We constructed Dermalogica by way of advertising to modest salons, so we created our business via advertising to small entrepreneurs who have been devastated by COVID-19,” claimed Jane in a current Zoom job interview. “So as we read through the piece, we understood that could’ve been our tale, but we have been exceptionally privileged. Our salons were being accurately like Diesel,” she mentioned. Diesel, a Bookstore, with areas in Del Mar and Brentwood, is one of lots of enterprises that have built general public pleas for support. “That’s who employs the community.”

The longtime philanthropists ordinarily present minority companies micro-financial loans by their Wurwand Foundation, but Diesel’s pandemic battle put into sharp aim the will need for immediate, no-strings support — some little firms just won’t be able to on any much more credit card debt.

Some 7,500 enterprises in L.A. have completely closed given that March 1, in accordance to a community economic influence report revealed by Yelp in September — the largest amount of closures in any U.S. metropolitan spot. Shops and dining places characterize the bulk of closures, with homeowners of color disproportionally affected. A college review published in Could identified that 41% of Black-owned firms across the state shut down concerning February and April. The amount of outlets owned by Latinos, Asians, immigrants and females dropped 32%, 26%, 36% and 25%, respectively.

These closures are what worry Jane Wurwand. “The matter I’m fearful the most of soon after this is, when we carry our heads and glance close to our communities and neighborhoods, I consider we’re heading to see a large amount missing, and we have to rebuild our major streets in our neighborhoods since or else we just will not have a place of link,” she reported. “I want to reside in the vicinity of the area bookstore and the nearby salon. I really don’t want to reside future door to the Amazon warehouse.”

A single new beneficiary, Rice and Noodle, has been keeping on by a thread this 12 months.

Lunch revenue at the small Thai and Vietnamese cafe fell by a lot more than 60% soon after places of work in the space shut. Operator Kwan Chotikulthanachai, 43, was forced to lay off all her staff members. She has not been able to shell out total hire since May perhaps, and she failed to qualify for Paycheck Security Application or economic damage disaster loans. Cleansing and sanitizing supplies have included far more fees. But with her spouse and chef, Son Ongjampa, she’s managed to cling on, her 8-12 months-previous son, Hugo, and 6-thirty day period-outdated baby, Ethan, at her aspect.

When she identified out Monday night time by using electronic mail that she would get a $5,000 grant, she cried.

“I was so joyful,” Chotikulthanachai explained tearfully in a phone interview Wednesday. “It truly is like I gained the lottery.” Hugo joyously jumped and screamed. She named her mother in Thailand — who cried, also.



a person standing in front of a brick building: Kwan Chotikulthanachai, left, inside Rice and Noodle with her family. (Curtis Dunwoody)


© (Curtis Dunwoody)
Kwan Chotikulthanachai, remaining, inside Rice and Noodle with her loved ones. (Curtis Dunwoody)

“I’m operating so difficult,” she stated. “This time has been amazingly tough, but I cannot give up. I really don’t want to near my cafe.”

Owning a enterprise has been a desire for Chotikulthanachai. She grew up in the restaurant globe in Bangkok, wherever her mother ran her individual area. She opened Rice and Noodle in 2018 with the assistance of spouse and children, and hopes someday to hand it down to her son. “I can’t permit my family fail with me.”

Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo also sighed with aid this week. The proprietor of U-Frame-It Gallery, a personalized body store with destinations in Tarzana and North Hollywood, shut her retail outlet for four months at the begin of the pandemic. Revenue dropped up to 50% following film and tv studios shut down, stripping her of a reputable source of earnings. She received PPP and Compact Enterprise Administration financial loans, but the latter income was sent to the improper individual she won’t have the cash, but she’s obtaining invoiced for payments.

Through it all, she stored her staff members on the payroll, creating cabinets, tables and other items to arrange the retail outlet although the doors remained closed to the public.

Cruz-Ocampo, 55, kept functioning, as well, despite fears of contracting the virus. She has scleroderma, an autoimmune ailment that tends to make her vulnerable to critical problems from COVID-19.



a person standing in front of a building: Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo inside her framing business, U-Frame-It Gallery. (Jennifer Daigle)


© (Jennifer Daigle)
Adrianna Cruz-Ocampo inside of her framing business, U-Frame-It Gallery. (Jennifer Daigle)

On Tuesday early morning, while she was receiving all set for do the job in the rest room of her Northridge house, Cruz-Ocampo opened an e mail: “Congratulations on the L.A. Smaller Business enterprise Restoration Fund,” it read. “U-Frame-It Inc. has been awarded a Found/LA Restoration Grant for the amount of $22,500.”

She screamed.

“I have been powering on lease, and this will assist me hold my staff,” she said in a mobile phone job interview. “This is like a bridge, a lifeline, to get by means of a incredibly, very really hard year. This is a blessing.”

Cruz-Ocampo left Colombia for the U.S. with her family members when she was 9. Following obtaining her associate’s degree in business enterprise administration from Pierce Faculty, she purchased the frame shop in the 1980s with financial savings and a small business bank loan. She opened a second locale in Tarzana in 2000.

“It can be like a Christmas present, a huge Xmas existing,” claimed Cruz-Ocampo. “It helps make me truly feel a thing good about this Xmas. As lousy as it can be been, it truly is ending genuinely effectively.”

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Occasions.

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