Ottawa jewelry maker Alyssa Spaxman kids that she’s doing a lot of deep breathing these days.
After all, she needs a means of calming herself, given COVID-19 and the massive hit her business, Strut Jewelry, has taken.
“Carrying the anxiety and fear of losing my income, along with concerns for the health of my friends, family and myself … has been completely draining,” Spaxman says.
The financial impact of the pandemic has been “immeasurable,” says Spaxman, who launched her business in 2009 and has two part-time employees working with her in her studio.
She finds herself in a plight common to many small businesses and product makers who have wares to sell but practically no way now to sell them.
The income streams that Spaxman built up over the years “have all toppled in one week,” she says.
“Events are cancelled, stores that carry my work are all closed. I am down to a trickle of online sales,” says Spaxman.
Many shows and markets Spaxman normally attended — such as the Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne Park, which has suspended operations — have been cancelled.
As for the future, Spaxman worries that some shops that stock her work may go out of business or have to scale back their operations, affecting her sales. Furthermore, she fears that “people are losing their jobs and the capacity to spend on non-essential goods like mine.
“The negative effects on my livelihood are direct, far-reaching and will be felt for a very long time,” she says.
Spaxman is doing her best to adapt to the new COVID-19 normal, promoting sales through her website, offering discounted gift cards, pick-ups from her porch and free shipping for orders of more than $100.
But she says: “I don’t want to overwhelm my customers, as so many of them are overwhelmed themselves and grappling with this new reality we are all faced with.
“I’m hoping that our government will offer something to help,” Spaxman said in an interview Thursday.
On Friday, in an effort to help small- and medium-sized businesses stay afloat, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will cover 75 per cent of wages for qualifying small- and medium-sized businesses, backdated to March 15.