Flagstaff business owner Julie Sullivan Brace shudders at the sight of Flagstaff’s eerily quiet downtown. “It’s like a little ghost town and I really do have such concern about what the new business landscape is going to look like after the COVID-19 shutdown.”
Sullivan Brace is the owner and creative director of Shine Creative Industries, LLC (formerly Julie Sullivan Design, Sullivan Santamaria Design Group and Sullivan Scully Design Group), and has been supporting and promoting Flagstaff’s small businesses and non-profits for 30 years. She says Shine attributes its success to its unique approach to envision strategies and design solutions by offering outside-of-the box concepts, skilled implementation and a commitment to long relationships with clients to fully understand and grow with their needs.
Now, she and her staff at Shine are going “outside of the box” with another concept – one that offers three $1,200 COVID-19 Relief Design Services Grants to small businesses to help them sharpen their image and refresh their marketing materials so they are well positioned when restrictions start to ease and business doors begin to reopen.
“Flagstaff is such a sweet community and I just feel like the devotion to localism is really strong here. I just love that. We have such community pride and maintaining the social and cultural character of Flagstaff is really important. Right now, for example, people are just buying their shoes at Amazon. What’s going to happen to these local stores? They are the fabric of our community. They are our neighbors.”
To make sure Flagstaff doesn’t forget about its neighborhood businesses, Shine Creative Industries is encouraging those who qualify to apply right away. Qualifying businesses must reside in Flagstaff, have fewer than 30 employees and explain how they have been impacted and why they are important to the community.
The grant can be used to brainstorm communication strategies, develop or revise a website, create an email campaign to communicate with customers, design a brochure, logo, new menus, retail signage or any other promotional tools needed that are a part of the services Shine Creative Industries offers. Projects that require more time can be pursued at a discounted rate.
“We recognize that it seems very difficult to start anything with such uncertainty, but once things do start moving, we will be behind the curve in our promotion efforts, which will only compound our business concerns if we let ourselves become paralyzed in the meantime,” she said. “Additionally, we can begin to look at innovative ways through marketing efforts to revive and thrive in the ‘new normal.’”
Shining Through Unprecedented Times
On March 1, and after six months of renovation of what was once an HVAC garage and office, Shine Creative Industries moved into its new offices with hope and excitement for new beginnings. Two weeks later, the Shine staff retreated to their homes to work remotely as concerns of the pandemic spread.
“It was incredibly discouraging because we were all looking forward to working out of our new space, but like others, we adapted to the sudden changes,” said Sullivan.
Turning their disappointment to gratitude, the Shine team decided to focus on the community. “We want to share our knowledge and skills with other businesses that really need help right now. We are especially interested in supporting restaurants, musicians, artists, retailers and other ‘mom and pops’ that have contributed to the vibrancy of our community. Those businesses will be considered first for these grants.”
Sullivan Brace says she would like to choose the three winning applications as soon as possible so the team can get to work on the projects this month. “We want to inspire others to step out of fear. If we lose confidence, we lose hope,” she said. “You might wonder how a small business like ours can afford to offer free design support right now, but in some ways, we feel like we can’t not afford to do this if we risk losing the small businesses that make Flagstaff so unique and wonderful. We want to do what we can to buoy each other up. We have the skills to help.”
Planning ahead, the Shine team expects to host a grand opening at its new offices, 2323 E. Greenlaw Lane, Suite 5, on the eastside adjacent to the Coconino County Health and Community Services building, when social distancing restrictions have lifted.
To apply for a COVID-19 Relief Design Services Grant, go to shinecreativeindustries.com/covid19designgrant or call 928-779-1120 for more information. FBN
By Bonnie Stevens, FBN