What is the 2022 small business outlook? We spoke with Greater Seattle small business owners, and after two years of working through the pandemic, we hear that things are as bad as they have ever been. And yet, facing what is likely to be another tough year, we are inspired by their determined hope for the future.
For many small business owners, 2022 brings new and exciting things they want to share with their communities. For these plans to succeed — for 2022 to be better than 2021 for the small businesses we love — continued community support is key.
Small business owners have learned a lot over the past two years, and are pushing forward not only to new opportunities for their businesses, but just as importantly, new ways to connect with and serve their communities.
Expanding Their Dough-rizons
Pastry chef Mi Kim, the owner of Raised Doughnuts, is looking forward to big changes in 2022 as she moves her business’ location. At Raised Doughnuts’ new, larger space, she’ll be able to hold larger doughnut, cookie, and cake classes, open the location during off-hours for events, and take on more cakes.
“2022 is going to be a year of action,” Mi said. “I am so excited for the shop to be done, to welcome the community into our new space and to see the other incoming and current businesses in the area thrive. I feel that the waiting is over, and that I can move forward and do all of the things I was holding back on in 2021. Expect some fun and delicious things this year!”
Lawtiwa Barbersalon, owned by Deanna Teasley, faces similar changes. Deanna is in the middle of the big decision to either renegotiate or renew her lease, or move to another location in Burien — all while searching for stylists to fill her chairs. As she looks for stylists to rent the extra chairs at her salon, Deanna is considering expanding her business by hiring stylists to work for her.
On top of all of these changes, Deanna is saving money and searching for a nonprofit — like Mary’s Place in Burien — she can give haircuts to.
While some businesses are moving locations in order to grow, others are expanding on the foundations they have already built. Whether they are new businesses growing into their potential or more established businesses taking steps to further their reach, these businesses are seizing opportunities with the support of their community.
Jeanette Macias and Lyz Bartolome opened Seeking Kombucha’s brick-and-mortar taproom in 2021. In 2022, the small-batch kombucha business that started at farmers market stalls is finding more ways to engage their customers with a new community brewery space.
“The community will be able to come by [to] see the fermentation process, grab some gut healthy fermented drinks, sign up for some growth classes, or just hang out in a safe environment,” Jeanette said.
The couple wants to use their success to uplift other small businesses. They plan on running a mini-mart for their customers to shop from other small businesses with plans to dedicate different weeks to introducing new businesses.
Small Businesses Against All Odds
Like Seeking Kombucha, El Cabrito faced COVID-19 obstacles as a new brick and mortar business. Artemio and Leticia Diaz opened their doors in Burien in 2020 and are grateful that the community has had their back over the past two years.
“We can feel people’s support,” Artemio said. “And we are looking to continue having their support by providing good service and good food.”
After a devastating fire started in El Cabrito’s shed in 2021, Artemio and Leticia lost seven years worth of catering and other restaurant equipment. Artemio said they lost everything in minutes due to poor quality electrical outlets that were installed by a previous owner of the building.
Despite everything, the couple is planning on rebuilding. El Cabrito is renewing its food truck, or even changing it up, in order to have it ready to go by the summer. Artemio hopes to attend more events, while taking measures to keep his customers safe from the pandemic.
Alida’s Bakery owner Nechirvan “Nech” Zebari is planning on building off of his Everett storefront in 2022. He is currently in the process of creating and hiring new roles in his team.
“We are excited to be expanding into new stores and restaurants around Puget Sound,” Nech said. “At the same time, we are shifting our focus to our in-person dining experience, getting our outdoor patio ready for warmer weather, and experimenting with new recipes.”
Malika Siddiq is also expanding her brick-and-mortar clothing boutique, Lika Love. She has opened a speakeasy in the back of her boutique for customers to sip drinks while they shop from Malika’s new collections focused on trendy pieces that are comfortable and can be mixed and matched.
“We can’t think of anything better than being able to eat, drink, and shop all under the same roof,” Malika said.
A look back on the past year shows how far each of these small businesses have had to push in order to grow. In 2021, many businesses were halted completely, like LaTuanya Witherspoon’s SpoonFed Training. The shut-down forced LaTuanya to be creative in helping her clients reach their fitness goals without being physically present at the gym.
“This pandemic has really forced me to have a different outlook on life,” LaTuanya said. “So many businesses suffered throughout the pandemic and many had to close their business.”
Saying Goodbye to a Hard Year
Even businesses that didn’t have to completely close down had a bumpy path and were forced to adapt, learn, and endure. Raised Doughnuts Mi Kim described 2021 as a year of uncertainty and waiting
“I think I was always waiting for something: updated guidance, reopening, mandates,” Mi said. “It was a year of limbo and we all seemed to be trying to find some kind of new normal. Creatively, I felt a bit stunted and hesitant.”
At Lawtiwa Barbersalon, Deanna had to style hair around PPE and sanitize the studio between each client, which she’ll continue to do in 2022. During all of the COVID-19 craziness that hit her business, Deanna had to figure out how to make her schedule work while homeschooling her son.
“I feel like COVID-19 is always throwing a curveball, but at least I’ve come to expect it,” Deanna said.
In order to stay ahead of the COVID-19 curveballs, SpoonFed Training’s LaTuanya plans to work hard to ensure her gym continues to be successful, including hiring new trainers. She asks her community to show up to classes and share about SpoonFed Training on social media.
“I am looking forward to my business growing and changing lives,” LaTuanya said.
Glimpses of Hope
After a year of learning the best ways to enhance customer experiences, Nech knows his community can help Alida’s Bakery succeed through communication. With honest feedback and reviews two things happen: Nech can make the menu items as delicious as possible and reviews will help new customers discover the bakery. As a bonus, Nech is rewarding customers who write reviews with $5 off their next visit.
“Whereas 2021 felt more like figuring out how to survive,” Nech said. “This year we are excited to finally feel like we are thriving and able to comfortably explore new ideas and opportunities.”
Assistance from other small businesses has also been essential. Jeanette and Lyz watched their fellow business owners struggle alongside them, but they pooled their resources, strategized, supported each other, and made it through the year.
“We learned that when small businesses come together our communities thrive,” Jeanette said.
At Lika Love, the boutique will continue to offer the level of service and products that Malika has always stood by. She hopes customers feel comfortable stopping by her boutique so she can help them feel like themselves again.
“We learned that you have to take things day by day not live in fear,” Malika said. “I know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Deanna is just glad Lawtiwa Barbersalon has made it this far.
“Who knew opening a business on the cusp of a pandemic would be so satisfying, character building, and make me ask questions like, ‘What can be done better next time? What do you need to work on?’ The answer: there’s always something new to learn in business,” Deanna said. “And as my 95 year old grandmother says, ‘We’ve been through worse before and we’ll get through this too.’”