When COVID-19 hit, there was a lot of talk about what businesses qualify as “essential.” A Mommy & Me boutique? That didn’t make the cut. However, a global pandemic doesn’t stop women from getting pregnant and children from growing out of their clothes. So Vanessa Heins, owner of Casp Baby Mommy & Me Boutique in Vero Beach, was busy.
Unlike many of the brick-and-motor storefronts in Vero Beach, Heins had established the infrastructure to get herself through a crisis. In addition to her swoon worthy storefront, she sells her hand-picked products on an easy-to-use website.
But in order to serve her customers during this unforeseen pandemic, she still had to get creative.
Heins has a lot of local customers who right before Easter, wanted to shop for their little ones. Instead of shipping items down the street, Heins hand-delivered bags to client’s door fronts.
“I did many drop offs myself here in town,” she said. And that was on top of doing school for her children and fulfilling orders in her shop.
“It was a struggle at times,” she said. “I was working more than I ever have.”
Her hustle paid off. Although the virus hit Florida during what are supposed to be its busiest months, Heins still saw strong sales online. That, coupled with the federal Paycheck Protection Program, enabled her to keep her business running and almost all of her workers employed.
She re-opened her storefront in early May, but with strict precautions. She started with appointments only, and requested that everyone wear a mask.
“We did run into some issues with that,” Heins said. “We had some people who didn’t want to wear a mask, so we now suggest that they wear a mask.”
From there, she opened for fewer hours during the weekdays and limited the number of customers she allowed inside. She put hand sanitizer by the door when you walk in, and a box of free masks for anyone to use.
“We want our customers to feel protected. We want them to feel comfortable,” she said.
Slowly, she and her customers are adjusting to the new normal. To make things easier for children to understand, Heins is selling matching “Mommy & Me” face masks, which come complete with an extra one for their little dolls.
“We feel very fortunate because a lot of businesses have gone the other direction,” she said, referring to her neighborhood storefronts that had no online presence, and now risk never reopening. “We were fortunate to have our online store set up and ready for something like this.”
That, coupled with the precautions she’s taking, is one small example of how businesses can responsibly reopen.
Her customers, whose families continue to grow in size and numbers, are certainly grateful. After all, there’s nothing like a cute baby outfit to cheer up mom in a pandemic.