My successes. 

My favorite successes this past year have included being able to offer more diverse products and services to our customers, working with the SBDC to generate new marketing ideas, starting to send out a monthly e-newsletter to all of my customers, including a Facebook Live Sale every Sunday night, and being able to re-open again on June 5, 2020. We also recently survived a flood that hit Hellertown as a result of Hurricane Isaias. West Water Street was an actual river but we were fortunate and only had minimal damage inside our street-facing doorway.

How would you like to see your business grow and do you have any specific plans to implement this growth?
We all know the saying that Rome wasn't built in a day, but I'm laying bricks every day. My preferred way of growing my business is slow and steady, making sure that I don't overextend my capacity with the resources I have available, and keeping my eye on the state of the marketing without being overly influenced by it. I'd like to continue expanding my offering of products and reducing my services so I can keep my focus on being fully present when customers do come into the shop. I plan to continue working with SCORE and other business resources that have helped me grow at a steady pace and continue to provide peace and serenity to our customers and our Kindred Spirits community.

What inspired you to start your business? 

My inspiration for Kindred Spirits began back in the late 1990's/early 2000s after visiting a metaphysical store in the Midwest, where I lived at that time. The feeling of peace and serenity that came over me when I walked in there was a huge relief to my spirit. For years, I said I wanted to open my own New Age Shop and 15 years later, that's exactly what I did. The impetus for opening in 2015 was being fired from my college teaching job three days before Christmas. Soon after that, my mother said her stomach didn't feel good. We assumed the holidays and rich foods were the culprits, but it turned out to be Stage IV pancreatic cancer. She passed away in August of 2015 and a month later, one of my cats was hit by a car in front of my house. I decided then that life is too short not to do exactly what we feel inspired to do. I had been looking at renting retail space for a few months, and then found the space I am currently at on Water Street in Hellertown.

My products are items that speak to my spirit and hope to at least one other person's spirit. I carry a wide variety of spiritual tools that help people feel as connected to their spirit as I felt all those years ago when I walked into my friend's shop. My main intention when opening Kindred Spirits was for people to feel more peaceful after visiting us. People tend to give out what is inside, and so I wanted to be a spiritual oasis for other kindred spirits.

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner? 

What challenges have you faced? How has COVID-19 affected your sales?
I've faced internal and external challenges. The biggest challenge was when the Water Street Bridge was down for 2 months and access to my shop was restricted by the construction. That bridge is a connector between Hellertown and Lower Saucon as well as Bethlehem and Center Valley, so to have that main road closed was a challenge. 

COVID-19 closed down our shop on March 17, 2020, at the order of Governor Tom Wolf. I have the kind of store that people like to interact with in person, so to have to shutter our doors for 2-1/2 months dramatically reduced our sales to levels that we had never seen before, including less than when we first opened.

How SCORE helped. 

When I first began working with Rolf, I was operating my business in vagueness and generalities. He'd ask me who my customers were and my answer was "I don't know." He asked me "What is your cash flow?" and my answer was "I don't know." I started off meeting with him at the Allentown Public Library in October 2019, and after COVID hit in mid-March, I had already established a consistent connection with him, so I reached out and asked him what I should do about my shop. He guided me through uncharted waters and continues to help me gain more clarity and specificity around my products, services, business decisions, and numbers.

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My Mentors