How one event venue and blogging company is navigating the challenges of COVID-19

In this 5-minute read:

  • What was a normal work day like before COVID-19?
  • How did COVID-19 affect this local business?
  • Did they apply for the PPP loan?
  • A message for small businesses

While most brick and mortar businesses are definitely struggling during the coronavirus pandemic as they’ve had to close their doors to customers, businesses with employees that work remotely have their own challenges to face as well. 

The company we are talking about today just happens to have both types of challenges. 100 Layer Cake is a website and blogging company that provides regular content to celebrate, inspire, and help facilitate the most special events in life, from birthdays to weddings and more. 

The owners of this company also opened their own event venue, Festoon Los Angeles, to host special events, corporate gatherings, pop-ups, and just about any event you can think of. 

With these two entities that often work cohesively together, the owners of 100 Layer Cake and Festoon LA are learning how to navigate the challenges for both a physical location (which they’ve had to close during state-mandated shelter-in-place restrictions) and managing a work-life balance for their remote employees. 

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Before COVID-19, what did a typical day look like for this company?

Before there was any fear of contracting a deadly viral disease, the owners and staff at 100 Layer Cake often met at Festoon LA’s physical location to check their emails, discuss their weekly objectives, and go over any tours that would be occurring at the event center. 

On Tuesdays-Thursdays, the company guided anywhere between 3 and 5 tours of their venue. One business partner would typically guide these tours while the other two continued to produce content for 100 Layer Cake’s online presence throughout the week. They were also always looking for new business initiatives. 

How has COVID-19 changed business operations for 100 Layer Cake and Festoon LA?

Due to COVID-19, the company has had to close the Festoon LA event venue. They postponed all events that were scheduled and have been working with each of their clients to reschedule any events that were supposed to take place from April to June. 

They are hopeful to be able to resume holding events soon, particularly their events that are scheduled for the fall so their customers can experience these joyous occasions to the fullest. 

Festoon LA is also offering 20% off of all bookings for 2020 in the hopes of attracting more customers, but currently it seems that people are still hesitant to make any concrete plans with the unknown state of things. 

100 Layer Cake, because it is an online platform, is able to take a more innovative approach and continues to reach viewers as the owners work remotely to produce content that is relevant for consumers during this time. 

“At 100 Layer Cake, it’s all about pivoting our content to share stories about how couples are eloping during this time and articles to help couples navigate their wedding plans,” says Jillian Clark, Co-founder and Marketing Manager at 100 Layer Cake. “This has given couples hope their wedding can still happen and be an intimate and magical experience. We love seeing how creative couples can be when faced with adversity.”

How have the employees at 100 Layer Cake been affected?

The biggest change is that all work for the company is now remote. The owners were able to do most of their work remotely before, but since moving to a 100% remote paradigm, it can create extra challenges with families at home. 

“We all manage a few hours a day, try to accomplish what we can, and go easy on ourselves,” Jillian says. “It’s important for your mental heath to find balance and that looks different right now. That said, it also feels like because we are not working at the capacity we were, that we are somehow nose-diving. Navigating these waters is unprecedented for all of us. A new learning curve!”

Did 100 Layer Cake apply for the PPP loan?

100 Layer Cake did apply for the PPP loan and has received their funding. 

“We applied with a few lenders (our bank and one other private lender) and found it a super easy format and very smooth process with Womply,” Jill mentioned. “This has made a huge difference for use in terms of morale and being able to support our families and business for the next few months. There was a huge weight lifted when we finally received the approval.” 

Perhaps the biggest hurdles the owners anticipate with the PPP loan is whether or not the loan will be forgiven and if the loan will be enough. 

“From April-June, there will have been no guests at Festoon, no new event bookings, a limit in vendor sign-ups, and no new sponsorships,” Jillian said. “We’re still in a state of fear. We’re just now (in mid-May) talking about opening a few businesses at one-half capacity with a lot of restrictions. We have no idea how those restrictions will work for events.”

There’s a lot to think about as businesses are allowed to start opening again. 

Go deeper: Reopening your retail shop after COVID-19: tips and best practices

Advice from 100 Layer Cake for America’s struggling small businesses

Jillian has a message for small businesses facing this global health and economic crisis. 

“Fight! Let’s fight for our business and demand more from our government. Everyone wants to go back to work and get back to normal. But, we all know there’s no ‘normal’ without a vaccine. What can we do to band together to get more assistance?”

“I’m so happy we received our loan,” she continues. “It’s helping in the short term. For the long term, I’m hopeful there will be more support for small businesses struggling to find ground. This virus is completely out of our control and shouldn’t make businesses go under, families suffer to pay rent/mortgage, and bring so much hardship to so many hard-working people. It’s heartbreaking!”

No one knows exactly what the future may hold, but with a little creative thinking and continuing to support one another through these unprecedented times, we can make it through. 

100 Layer Cake’s website:

Festoon LA’s website:

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