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The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly made things trickier for small businesses – and even put some out of business for good. So it’d be crazy to build and launch a start-up in this climate, right? Nope.
Hayley Doron-Weil did just that. The co-founder, creative director and CEO of UrbanHoundSocial.com (which she launched before COVID hit) started her second business, ThatAdstore.com, slap in the middle of the pandemic.
If you’re one of the many people itching to ditch that full-time job and try your hand at self-employment, then you’ll do well to listen to exactly how she did it.
The two businesses… explained
UrbanHoundSocial.com – an exciting, proudly South African fashion and lifestyle brand – was born out of Hayley’s love for pups. Everything the business makes is deeply rooted in the African continent and is ethically handmade with love, in South Africa, by local artisans.
From 100% cotton, SA Shweshwe heritage fabrics to vibrant prints from across East and West Africa, and the muted tones of local cotton twill, each Urban Hound Social piece is a carefully considered gift for pups (and pup parents, of course).
“I wanted to make their lives as beautiful as they make mine,” says Hayley of the business. And because pups will always be pups, they also make sure every item is stitched with the highest quality thread and made with breathable, lightweight fabrics – strong enough for any naughty pawskie.
ThatAdstore.com – an online retail platform that specialises in the creation of digital ads and creative ideas – was born out of Hayley’s love for social media advertising. “I have 15 years’ experience in the industry and I wanted to democratise digital advertising with rates and timelines that fit into the new world we live in. I believe that every brand deserves good quality work with transparent fees and at a speed that achieves goals in a realistic time frame,” she says.
Thatadstore.com takes the services of a modern digitally-focused advertising agency and places them in an e-commerce framework. Basically, it’s online shopping for digital advertising.
“[It] works exactly like any other e-commerce platform. Think Amazon, Superbalist, Zando,” says Hayley. On Thatadstore.com, you shop for your digital advertising products, which are then delivered – in this case, to your inbox, not your mailbox. “You also get to co-create and collaborate with us on the unique products you’ve ordered. Everything is custom made.”
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Ally: “Mom. We’ll be okay, right?” Mom: “Sure we will, little one. We’re staying home and staying safe for us and for every hooman out there.” #StayStrong #BeMoreDog #YesYouCan #SupportLocal #BuyHandmade #Wisdom #DogAccesories #DoggoLove #madeinafrica #UrbanHoundSocial #Instadog #pekingese #DogsOfInstagram #fashionpups
Starting a second business during lockdown – lessons learnt
“[Lockdown] took its toll on UrbanHoundSocial.com. We weren’t able to manufacture or ship our products and in-person sales totally fell away. We’re still recovering from the severe ramifications of COVID-19,” says Hayley.
With this in mind, and with her advertising knowledge and experience, she decided to launch a business that would help others access high-quality social media advertising in a time when it was needed the most. “I wanted others to be able to advertise their business with ease… I was poised to be the help that was needed,” she says.
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Just me, looking back to when we began @UrbanHoundSocial less than a year ago, and now, we’re available on Superbalist. I’m on top of the world. Okay, I’m on top of our super comfy blue and white bed set. Feels about the same though. #BizGoals #DreamsComeTrue #SupportLocal #BuyHandmade #DogBed #DogAccessories #Instapup @superbalist
How to sustain a business after lockdown…
The only way to sustain a business is with hard work, says Hayley. “I’ve learnt that the hard way. With UrbanHoundSocial.com we were lucky enough to have Superbalist.com purchase a large number of goods during the lockdown and they’ve been selling them on their platform for the past few months,” she says. (They made an exclusive range of colourful beds with matching fitted sheets that they only sell on Superbalist.com.)
“We’ve also been part of an amazing pet pop-up called Oobu Life, which is set at the lovely 44 Stanley in Johannesburg,” she adds.
“As for ThatAdStore.com, I’ve been lucky enough to be super busy during this time with amazing brands from global to local. It’s been one of my biggest joys and I’m looking forward to working on many more exciting projects going forward,” she says.
The challenges that come with starting a new biz – and how to overcome them
Starting a business, creating a brand and finding the right clients isn’t easy. “It’s not glamorous. You take on many roles and I’ve often found myself buried in far more work than I can handle,” says Hayley. “I’ve also found that I needed to hire certain specialised people, especially when it comes to finances and bookkeeping.”
Marketing tips to boost your business
Hayley used Facebook and Instagram as the primary tools to market UrbanHoundSocial.com and she used LinkedIn to market ThatAdStore.com.
“Social media was how I got the word out there for the most part,” she says.
“Luck has allowed me to be featured by a few journalists and I’ve had a few pieces written about both ThatAdStore.com and UrbanHoundSocial.com…
“Luck and a ton of hard work, that is. One always needs both,” she adds.