Sat | Jan 23, 2021

Demola Cunningham | How businesses are adapting to COVID-19 (Part 3)

Published:Wednesday | December 2, 2020 | 12:13 AMDemola Cunningham/Guest Columnist
OHJA Herbhouse, a chain of cannabis dispensaries located in Barbican and Montego Bay.
OHJA Herbhouse, a chain of cannabis dispensaries located in Barbican and Montego Bay.
Demola Cunningham
Demola Cunningham
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The year 2021 is literally right around the corner, and the world is anxiously anticipating what the new year has up its sleeves. Thankfully, COVID-19 has not brought everything to a standstill, as several small businesses have found creative ways to cater to their customers, which has resulted in a boost in social media interactions, virtual events, online social communities and content production.

The school of thought is that once ideas are properly executed, with the right investments and the necessary resources, entrepreneurs can be the backbone of the economy. In that regard, entrepreneurs continue to step out of the box, finding new ways of reaching their audiences.

This week, in part three of ‘How businesses are adapting to COVID-19’, here’s what some companies/individuals are doing:

NAME: Gamel Reid

TITLE: Musician

ARTISTE NAME: The Grei Show

TYPE OF BUSINESS: Recording artiste/music producer

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I make instrumental productions for local and international acts, one of which was recently featured on the In Search Of Lost Time album released by Protoje in August. The track Weed & Ting had co-production by Black Chiney member Supa Dups. I also have my own songs available on major streaming platforms, such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, etc. I just dropped a new project called 1122 as well.

HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?

COVID-19 has drastically changed the ways in which a lot of sectors operate, two of the most infamous adjustments would be the ban on large gatherings and the nightly curfew. One of the most lucrative and exciting things about the music industry is sharing, both as an entity sharing with hundreds to thousands or as a consumer experiencing a work of art. Not only has the virus affected the frequency and capacity of festivals and concerts, but it has also affected the direct spread of joy and positive energy, which is important to most businesses.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO COPE WITH THE RESTRICTIONS AND ADAPTING TO THE CURRENT CHANGES?

I’ve been focusing on a more powerful online presence with more impactful social content. For example, the video for my song Loosen Up (featuring Swnkah, produced by Sarangetti Music and the video by Dane Nelson) had less than 10 people on set at a time; however, the overall energy from the final product is unmatched, with a concerted effort to achieve more using less resources. Social media is here to stay, so rather than making it an enemy, it’s better to adapt early instead of playing catch-up later on when everything has evolved around you. I’ve observed numerous companies moving to expand their cyber infrastructure in order to get closer to their customers. I’ve always been an online-centric person, so that has made coping with the pandemic and adapting to more online-based interactions very easy.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF RETURNING TO BUSINESS POST COVID-19?

Will the world return to what it was? How long will the restrictions last? Will life as we know it be vastly different by then? These are a few questions that come to mind when planning for post-COVID-19 business. After the pandemic, I see myself expanding into more overseas activities such as tours, festivals and the like. I will also incorporate modern technology in my creative production process and performances. Things might be a lot different as people hurry to readjust, but it’s almost safe to assume that most persons will welcome the return of nightlife and gatherings.

NAME: Charles Grant

TITLE: General manager

COMPANY: OHJA Herbhouse

TYPE OF BUSINESS: Cannabis dispensary

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I manage OHJA Herbhouse, a chain of cannabis dispensaries located in Barbican and Montego Bay, as well as liaise regularly with the Cannabis Licensing Authority to ensure that we are meeting their expectations as a company.

HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?

Well, to be completely honest, our business had its genesis in the pandemic, so we had to adapt from the very beginning to the various restrictions it has placed on all our lives. As challenges arise, we continue to adapt and deal with them.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO COPE WITH THE RESTRICTIONS AND ADAPTING TO THE CURRENT CHANGES?

1. We have put in place temperature checks, sanitisation stations, and ensure that social distancing is maintained.

2. Limited our smoke room occupancy to ensure social distancing.

3. We have a major digital presence on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and members can now pre-order products on our website.

4. Communication is paramount, so we constantly update our clients through social media broadcast messages and emails. We also give courtesy calls to our clients, much to their surprise, as such practices had long been forgotten in the world of business. We operate as a family, which doesn’t just show we care, it also fosters a relationship built on trust.

5. We have high-touch patient care; meaning, although technology is a major tool needed for our success, we still ensure that our staff members are compassionate, attentive and polite.

6. We have put in place curbside pickup to further limit the amount of people in store at any given time.

7. We have structured our price points in such a way where everyone can purchase from us, making us more a brand of the people. When you think of affordable, high-quality cannabis in Jamaica, you can think OHJA.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF RETURNING TO BUSINESS POST COVID -19?

Great question. Oh man, OHJA can’t wait to not be limited by lockdowns and occupancy restrictions when it comes to serving our loyal family members. So to answer your question, I see OHJA as a company, bigger and way better. Until then, we will continue to serve our family members the medicine they need to cope in this stressful time, because as our mantra states, ‘Over Here We Care’.

NAME: Alia Lux

TITLE: Creative entrepreneur

COMPANY: Coco Lux Wellness

TYPE OF BUSINESS: A lifestyle approach to WOMEN’S wellness that includes holistic practices and modalities that combine herbal healing, movement/dance, and attunement to one’s divine self.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I actually have multiple facets of work and skills. I provide community wellness and health promotion/education around reproductive health, herbalism, food as medicine, sexuality, and dance expression through consultations, classes, workshops, and events. I also create wellness products that focus on all-natural, plant-based ingredients that support holistic approaches to healing, regeneration and lifestyle.

HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?

My business went from moving all over the city to being completely virtual. I am missing hosting events, workshops and classes. There is really something powerful when a lot of women come together in a large space with intentions of wellness, dance and divine connection. I also do not have as many performance gigs as a choreographer/dancer.

I am, however, still connecting with clients and women through Zoom consultations, private lessons and classes.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO COPE WITH THE RESTRICTIONS AND ADAPTING TO THE CURRENT CHANGES?

I am shifting my focus to creating more social media content and online offerings that consist of beginners’ herbalism, connecting to the divine through sensuality and dance, as well as creative content to appeal to my followers.

I also have been in the ‘lab’ creating more wellness products that incorporate healing herbs as well as cannabis, and I am really excited to launch some of my new products in 2021.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF RETURNING TO BUSINESS POST COVID-19?

It’s really hard to say, but overall I have a new sense of purpose, and that is to continue to connect to the community and promote wellness and health through holistic modalities that ultimately will support people to have better health, both physically and mentally. I don’t believe there is a ‘getting back to normal’ post COVID, but I do believe that we have an opportunity to define a new way forward. And although social distancing and virtual connections take away from our physical connection, I hope to still grow my connections virtually and through social media to provide my services to women and anyone who feels called to tap into what I do.

Digital and social media marketing companies, such as It’s JUS Marketing @itsjusmarketing, offer many of the services and training companies will need to be highly efficient in the virtual world.

- Demola Cunningham is a digital marketer and communications consultant at It’s JUS Marketing. Email feedback to editorial@gleanerjm.com and itsjusmarketing@gmail.com; @itsjusmarketing.