CLEVELAND — Many small businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with some even having to close their doors for good.
But Anne Harrill, the owner of Oceanne Boutique in Cleveland, found ways to pivot in order to stay open while staying true to her solid gold roots.
“Earrings and necklaces are kind of our main things,” Harrill said. “We do a lot of custom, which is kind of fun. We stamp and customize and personalize pieces.”
Harrill started Oceanne back in 2006 in her spare bedroom. She’d just moved from France and was having a hard time adjusting to Cleveland. Oceanne is a play on her name and her journey across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in Cleveland.
“I was having a really hard time with you know culture shock and just getting to know people,” Harrill said. “I just needed a creative outlet so I started making jewelry.”
She started selling her pieces as a side hustle at small festivals and then her business kept growing. She opened a storefront in Detroit-Shoreway in 2017.
But that growth hit a snag when the pandemic hit last March.
“Shut everything down for a few weeks,” Harrill said.
The business rebounded in a different way.
“People started shopping online because they had heard to support small businesses,” Harrill said. “Basically 100% of our business became online.”
And once the shop reopened in June, there was another problem to solve.
Because of COVID, Harrill and her team could no longer travel to sell their pieces at craft shows across the country.
“That used to be kind of our bread and butter, if you may,” Harrill said.
To make up for those losses, Harrill and her staff started expanding their merchandise at the shop, including puzzles, cookbooks, and everyone’s most essential accessory for the foreseeable future—face masks.
“All kinds of things that we feel like as a small boutique we should have,” Harrill said.
In 2021, Harrill plans to keep pivoting until this pandemic is over.
“Figuring out how to be even more efficient,” Harrill said. “We’re hoping that in the spring maybe things will get back to normal and shows might come back.”
Oceanne is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It also has an online store.
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