Support

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Since its founding in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday has encouraged thousands of shoppers from across the country to shop small and support local businesses.

With many small businesses still navigating through the challenges of COVID-19, now more than ever small businesses need your support this holiday shopping season. This year Small Business Saturday will take place on November 27, and shoppers from the DMV have a unique opportunity to discover local businesses by shopping small.

Since its founding in 2011, One More Page Books has consistently leveraged the marketing efforts surrounding Small Business Saturday. In fact, One More Page Books welcomed President Barack Obama along with his daughters, Sasha and Malia, on Small Business Saturday in 2012.

Thanks to One More Page Books, Arlington shoppers will have the opportunity to participate in a passport program encouraging shoppers to shop local this holiday season. Additionally, through the passport program, shoppers have the chance to win prizes and find deals, all while supporting our community’s vitality in keeping dollars local.

Interested shoppers can pick up a passport at any participating business, which can be found online. Many local businesses are running specials on Small Business Saturday.

To be eligible to win one of three Grand Prize baskets, shoppers need to collect at least five stamps from the participating businesses. Once completed, the completed passports can be returned to One More Page Books or left at the last participating business shoppers visit.

Winners of the baskets will be randomly drawn from all completed passports on November 28 at 3 p.m. at One More Page Books and notified via e-mail.

If you’re a small business owner wanting to capitalize on Small Business Saturday, American Express has developed customizable Small Business Saturday graphics. Furthermore, American Express has made it even easier to find local businesses near you to shop small through their Shop Small Map.

The BizLaunch team hopes you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and hope you support our community by shopping small on Small Business Saturday on November 27.

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This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

CAKE Society Co., founded by Executive Director Colton Gibbons, provides access to health, dance, fitness and community in a group fitness setting.

Opened in March of this year, CAKE Society Co. is different from other fitness organizations. It is one of the only BIPOC (Black Indigenous Person of Color) and trans-led dance-oriented fitness organizations.

“I created Cake Society Co. to challenge the traditional toxic fitness culture which supports only one kind of body and vision,” Gibbons said. The word “cake” is an acronym and a pledge for the organization’s main pillars — Community, Activism, Kindness and Equity.

Like many Arlingtonians, Colton moved to Arlington for graduate school and fell in love with the community. “I love the passion and activism that the community offers,” Colton said. “I like that Arlington is intentionally working on a more inclusive and equitable future for all of its residents.”

In starting Cake Society, Colton wasn’t alone. Not only does he have a community of great leaders helping him launch his business, Colton also sought out help from BizLaunch, Arlington’s Small Business Assistance Center.

“I worked with Alex from BizLaunch to help guide me on local business permits and licenses that I needed,” Colton said. “Additionally, Alex helped me brainstorm new ideas and ways to support my organization.”

Recently Cake Society received its 501c3 designation from the Internal Revenue Service as a community-based not-for-profit. Cake Society currently is offering classes by Zoom and at local community spaces. Colton hopes to see a thriving dance-fitness studio fully staffed by exceptional individuals with those from historically underserved communities in leadership positions in five years.

In addition to building an inclusive fitness brand, Cake Society Co has released new efforts providing resource distribution to the trans and gender-expansive community. They also host mental health events and support groups both through Zoom and in person. If you’re interested in attending an event, check out Cake Society’s event page.

For more information about Cake Society Co. and to try out a Zumba class, visit www.cakesocietyco.org.

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Yard signs marketing the GRANT 2.0 placed throughout Arlington

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

In our last Small Business Focus, we announced Arlington’s Small Business GRANT 2.0 and focused on eligibility. Now with applications underway through Oct. 20, we thought we’d use this opportunity to explain how small businesses can leverage GRANT 2.0 funds.

Similarly, to GRANT 1.0 released in 2020, funds from GRANT 2.0 can be used for the following:

  • Retaining and/or supporting employees
  • Restoring financial resiliency
  • Increasing technology capacity
  • Creating new marketing strategies
  • Revising business plans

Many businesses awarded a GRANT last summer used the funds to pay rent and payroll expenses. However, some used their grant to revise business plans or to better leverage technology.

For example, Educational Theatre Company used their grant to purchase a third Zoom line to offer simultaneous summer camps online. Another example is Compass Coffee, which used its grant to cover marketing expenses to expand its online sales.

Compass Coffee also used a portion of its funding to revise its business plan. It  purchased a machine to produce K-Cups and Nespresso pods to add to their product mix for customers stuck at home with cravings for their favorite local cup of coffee.

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For many small business owners, the past 18 months have been incredibly challenging. Small business owners have been juggling a lot — from ensuring the safety of customers and employees to adjusting business models to comply with social distancing measures.

It’s no doubt that these 18 months have been incredibly disruptive for many small businesses. BizLaunch is here to help with the Small Business GRANT 2.0 program.

The Small Business GRANT 2.0 will provide direct financial assistance to small businesses struggling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide a total of $2 million in immediate funds to businesses and nonprofits. The program focuses on industries most affected by the governor’s stay-at-home orders and those that have not previously received state or federal funding.

The GRANT 2.0 program will begin accepting online applications from eligible businesses on Oct. 6, 2021. Applications close on Oct. 20, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Eligible businesses include:

  • Businesses or nonprofits in the following industry sectors:
    • Arts and entertainment
    • Child care
    • Hotel and accommodations
    • Personal services
    • Restaurants and food service (including food trucks)
    • Retail
  • Businesses whose primary location is in Arlington County
  • Businesses that operate from a physical brick-and-mortar building in a commercially zoned area
  • Businesses with a current 2021 Arlington business license and that are current on their tax obligations
  • Businesses whose staff is fully vaccinated or follow COVID-19 testing protocols will receive special consideration.

After the application period closes, 200 eligible businesses will be randomly selected and awarded a $10,000 grant. The grant can be used for salary and benefits and other business capital and operating expenses related to the impacts of COVID-19.

More information about the program can be found at www.arlingtongrant.com, and you can sign up for our newsletter to be notified when the program opens.

Regardless of GRANT 2.0 eligibility, Arlington businesses can access BizLaunch resources, including ReLaunch, consultations and our Marketing Toolkit. For more information about BizLaunch, visit www.bizlaunch.org.

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Over the last 18 months, many small business owners have been asking themselves questions about how they can improve their business.

  • How can I attract more clients?
  • How can I attract new employees?
  • How can I adjust my business plan taking COVID-19 into account?
  • How do I build my business’s brand while increasing awareness?

If you’re a small business owner and have asked yourself similar questions and more, BizLaunch’s ReVitalize program may have the answers you need.

Launched back in March as a component of ReLaunch, ReVitalize is a free resource for small businesses where business owners can participate in coaching sessions provided by Revby, sharing their current challenges in growing or managing their small business. The sessions are centered on using strategy conversations to give business owners useful feedback.

Some of the outcomes achieved during these coaching sessions include:

  • Recommendations on website improvements
  • Support in integrating technology to improve business operations, including payment options, managing customer data and increasing sales
  • Recommendations on new social media content with real-world examples for your business
  • Support in building a business recovery plan for future crises
  • Professional opinions on critical business topics.

Curious about the program? Hear Jennifer Jones, Creative Founder of Cosmopolitan Plated, share her experience in working with Revby and how she improved her messaging for her website.

Regardless of industry, any small business with less than 50 employees and a 2021 business license can apply and participate. Companies are selected on a rolling basis each month through a lottery. At the end of the sessions, business owners will leave with documents containing valuable insights and resources on topics discussed during the sessions.

For more information about the resources available through ReLaunch, visit www.relaunch.business and apply for ReVitalize today!

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Opening a new restaurant isn’t easy, but opening a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic takes real grit and perseverance.

With our Small Business Focus this week, we wanted to highlight one of Arlington’s newest culinary destinations, Los Chamacos, located at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive. Los Chamacos offers authentic Mexican dishes and an immersive dining experience where customers can experience Mexican culture. From the first step in, the music and the decoration offer a comfortable and welcoming environment.

Started by Benedicto Yanez and his wife, Jessica, Los Chamacos opened its doors on Jan. 17, 2021. Benedicto has been working in the food industry for 24 years, gaining knowledge throughout his years as a chef working in different Spanish, European and American restaurants.

Circumstances around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic gave them the opportunity to open Los Chamacos to make a living and employ those in need of a job. Jessica felt nostalgia for her home country’s gastronomy, so they decided to open a Mexican restaurant offering authentic Mexican cuisine.

“We are different from Tex-Mex and regular burritos; we offer authenticity,” Benedicto said.

By offering 100% authentic Mexican food, Los Chamacos differentiates itself from other Mexican restaurants. With the food and the services, this restaurant has become what the customer looks for when wanting to experience the Mexican culture through food.

“We like to treat our customers the way they would like to be treated at home because we aim to recreate their household’s atmosphere,” Benedicto said.

Opening during the COVID -19 pandemic posed a unique challenge for Los Chamacos’ owners, as many customers avoided indoor dining. However, Los Chamacos continued to build its reputation in the community during this time by growing its social media presence, focusing on other marketing and publicity efforts, and utilizing available resources from BizLaunch.

“If we overcome the pandemic and all the constraints it brought, then we can overcome any obstacle that lies ahead,” Benedicto said. “Having faith in God kept us working toward our goal.”

As a complement to its food offerings, the restaurant’s bar is known for its non-alcoholic beverages — any drink on the menu is available in a non-alcoholic version. That’s right! Customers can enjoy a margarita, El Chamaco, La Chamaca or a cantarito with no alcohol. That means everyone can enjoy a tasty and cold drink.

As vaccination rates trend upward in Virginia and customers feel more comfortable dining at restaurants, Los Chamacos continues to take additional precautions to ensure the safety of customers and employees. The restaurant complies with social distancing and sanitation recommendations to ensure everyone feels comfortable during their visit.

Benedicto and Jessica are thankful for the help of their neighbors, friends, customers and BizLaunch in opening Los Chamacos. Each one of them participated in the success of the restaurant from the very beginning.

Next time you find yourself looking for a place to try delectable Mexican cuisine, visit Los Chamacos at 922 S. Walter Reed Drive. They can also be found on Facebook, Yelp, TikTok and Instagram.

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This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Because Arlington earned the title of Fittest City in the U.S. for the third year in a row last week, we thought we’d use this as an opportunity to highlight one of Arlington’s newest fitness brands, Method Fitness, which opened its doors earlier this year.

Aryan Siahpoushan, the founder of Method Fitness, moved to Arlington after college and began working for one of the Big Four consulting firms in the region.

“After about six months in, I realized it wasn’t for me,” Siahpoushan said. “In college, I majored in business because I wanted to be an entrepreneur; at the time, however, I didn’t know what my future business would be.”

Through much self-reflection and research, Siahpoushan realized he wanted to work in the fitness industry. After a year at the consulting firm, he left for a career change and began working at a gym in Ballston.

“Working there was an opportunity for me to obtain certifications, gain training experience and learn more about the industry in real-time,” he said.

Toward the end of 2019, Siahpoushan left to become an independent personal trainer for a local gym in Arlington.

“My intention was to open my own gym someday soon, so I became an independent personal trainer to gain experience managing and building clientele — without the overhead of my own space,” he said.

Then, COVID-19 came and forced gyms to close in March 2020.

“In many ways, COVID-19 accelerated the opening of Method Fitness,” Siahpoushan explained. “While during the lockdown I was still providing sessions, albeit virtually, but the volume at which I was training simply wasn’t the same as before. This afforded me the opportunity to truly focus on my business plan.”

In July 2020, he began looking for space to open his one-on-one fitness concept and secured a location at 3315 Langston Blvd (formerly Lee Highway) in December.

“I saw an opportunity within the industry that could thrive, especially given the ‘new normalʼ that COVID presented us — the concept of a one-on-one fitness space that provides clients an exclusive environment for just personal training, which differs from a big-box gym,” Siahpoushan said.

To help him with his business plan, Siahpoushan sought out the Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) through George Mason University. He began meeting with his counselor, Mark Julian, in July 2020.

“My counselor was instrumental in helping get Method Fitness off the ground, serving as a resource and sounding board for my idea,” Siahpoushan said. “Outside of friends and family, he was the only person I spoke to about my idea.”

With its consistent ranking as the Fittest City in the U.S., it makes sense that Arlington would be a desirable location for a fitness startup.

“People in Arlington prioritize their fitness,” Siahpoushan said. “When I come in before 6 a.m., I constantly see people along Langston Blvd run, bike and walk to start their day.”

Since opening earlier this year, Method Fitness has seen a positive response from the community, allowing Siahpoushan to bring on two additional trainers, Mateo Moore and Justin Fabella.

Method Fitness offers in-person and virtual one-on-one personal training sessions customized to meet clients’ needs for those looking to focus on their fitness goals. Check out their website to schedule your initial consultation and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Since starting ReLaunch in March of this year, over 100 Arlington businesses have applied for the program.

ReLaunch is an initiative from BizLaunch, Arlington’s Small Business Assistance Center, broken into two segments: ReNew and ReVitalize. Through ReNew, businesses can gain assistance with enabling a website or e-commerce solution developed by Nub8 and powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). With ReVitalize, companies can access free consulting services provided by Revby, an experienced small business consulting firm.

While many small businesses have leveraged the free consulting services through ReLaunch, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the businesses that received help in upgrading their website or were able to launch a brand-new site with the help of Nub8 and AWS.

Jane Franklin Dance

Jane Franklin website before ReLaunch in April 2021 (via Wayback Machine Internet Archive)

Like many cultural non-profits, the health restrictions forced Jane Franklin Dance to pivot back in March 2020. Thus, Jane Franklin Dance began offering performances, summer camps and classes digitally through Zoom.

“After the past 16 months of virtual programming, it’s a great time for us to sport a new look (website) to highlight in-person experiences for young campers, general audiences and movers of all ages,” said Jane Franklin, artistic director and founder of Jane Franklin Dance. “The website now has a more fluid and dynamic look, plus we have the background tools to adapt as necessary. Thanks to AED, AWS and Nub8 for developing the ReLaunch initiative and for help updating our website.”

Check out their new website to see a list of their upcoming performances, classes and summer camps.

Rincome Thai Cuisine

Rincome Thai Cuisine website before ReLaunch in March 2021 (via Wayback Machine Internet Archive)

Rincome Thai Cuisine has been a staple of Columbia Pike for the past 36 years, long before the internet age. When many businesses began developing websites, the founder of Rincome Thai, Mihee Pansiri, wanted to market her business online and solicited help from a friend who created her initial website using Dreamweaver. Unfortunately, as time progressed, her initial website began looking dated and wasn’t optimized to be viewed on mobile devices.

About two years ago, Caviar, a food delivery service, reached out with an offer to upgrade her existing website.

“It was a nice website, but it was a benefit only to them,” said Pansiri at a recent webinar, Techtify Your Business. “It had some pictures and prices, but there was nothing about my restaurant and directed customers to order through their delivery service. When I got selected for ReLaunch, I was very grateful, and the Nub8 team was extremely patient with me in helping to launch my new site. Now we have a brand-new website that tells the story of my restaurant, and customers can navigate very easily.”

Check out Rincome’s new website developed by Nub8 and AWS to learn more about them and see their menu.

If your small business needs help with website upgrades, or maybe you’d like to utilize the complimentary business consulting services, visit www.relaunch.business and apply for these free resources today.

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Pride flag flying in Courthouse (courtesy of Zachary Cabot)

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. While this year’s Pride may look a little different than previous years with many local events taking place virtually, there are still elements that many will recognize, including a Colorful Pride Mobile Parade happening this Saturday.

Many local businesses in Arlington have already started showing their support by updating their social media profiles with a rainbow flag, a symbol of LGBTQ+ Pride. (We see you, Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream & Coffee!) For our Small Business Focus, we wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some events and initiatives local businesses are hosting for Pride Month.

First up, Bash Boxing, an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, is hosting a Bash Pride Celebration on June 11 at 6 p.m. at their Rosslyn location — a 60-minute class coached by founder Alex Trakas. The Bash team will be on-site raising funds and awareness for the Capital Pride Alliance.

 

 

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Next, we’ve got Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant, Northern Virginia’s only gay bar. Freddie’s has been a fixture on 23rd Street for more than 20 years and has always been a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community. Their events for Pride include Drag Bingo this evening, Freddie’s Follies Drag Show on Saturday and Drag Brunch on Sunday. In addition to these events, they also will be hosting additional events throughout June — follow their Facebook page to learn more.

And speaking of Freddie’s… The National Landing BID is teaming up with Painted Palettes to create a work of art that celebrates Freddie’s. This limited-edition print is available for pre-order with 50% of the proceeds going directly to AGLA.

 

 

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This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By The BizLaunch Team

Emerald Massage Center is a woman-owned small business specializing in deep tissue, Swedish, hot stone and sports massages located in the Lyon Park neighborhood of Arlington.

“We love being in Lyon Park because it’s so charming and close to the Clarendon Metro station,” owner Amanda Silva said.

Having immigrated to the United States from Brazil at the age of 13, owning a small business has been a dream of a lifetime.

In her early twenties, Amanda became a licensed massage therapist. After working several years at various corporate massage franchises, in June 2019, Amanda decided to develop her business plan and Emerald Massage Center became a reality.

“My business partner was born and raised in Arlington and knows how great the community is,” Silva said when asked why she decided to locate her new venture in Arlington.

Like many entrepreneurs getting their business started, “I tackled everything myself,” described Silva when opening her new business — from creating the LLC to finding the commercial space, applying for permits, decorating and marketing her business.

Of course, starting a business hasn’t come without challenges, and the global pandemic has made the intimate nature of massage therapy difficult.

“My business was actually starting to take off the ground and do really well in February of 2020, only to be closed in March for nearly four months by the coronavirus,” Silva said.

Despite these challenges, Emerald Massage Center has been fortunate to have a loyal customer base, including Ruth Garvey, daughter of Libby Garvey, a member of the Arlington County Board.

“Ruth and her husband have been regular clients and have been wonderfully supportive of Emerald Massage Center,” Silva said.

Additionally, the ability to recruit talented massage therapists has been a huge added value to her business.

“Grady McGonagle’s knowledge, attention to detail and experience at five-star luxury spas in Washington, D.C. has been a great contribution to my business,” she said.

Over the next five years, Emerald Massage Center’s focus is growth with plans to remain at the same Lyon Park location.

“I really enjoy checking out the wonderful farmer’s markets in Arlington, eating at Pupatella Neapolitan Pizzeria and El Fuego Peruvian Kitchen,” Silva said. “I think that coming from extreme poverty has made me really appreciate all of the affluence and prosperity that Arlington has to offer.”

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

“Disruption creates space for entrepreneurs.” — Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal, McKinsey & Company

The health pandemic fundamentally changed the way we do business. In 2020, we began operating in a changed world, conducting business online and virtually.

According to an insightful article by McKinsey & Company, our “new normal” is changing how we do business in the short and long term. In 2021, entrepreneurship numbers are up, and the need for technology is high. Access to capital is paramount to ensure an entrepreneur can access the tools they need to compete. How do we blend the increase in small business formation and the ongoing need to access capital to new and existing businesses?

Arlington Economic Development (AED) is committed to providing the professional tools small businesses need to compete in our “new normal.” ReLaunch is a new initiative sponsored by BizLaunch Arlington’s Small Business and Entrepreneurial Assistance Network to help newly launched and existing businesses adjust to the “new normal.” What’s the cost to participate? It is a free tool underwritten by AED.

Hear what businesses are saying about ReLaunch…

“Manoukian Oriental Rugs was grateful to have been selected for Arlington Economic Development’s ReLaunch program,” The Manoukian Family said. “The consultation improved our understanding of a strategic asset, which helped us position our business for better customer service and smarter growth. Thank you, team AED!”

The Manoukian Family owns Manoukian Brothers Oriental Rugs located at 2330 Columbia Pike in Arlington.

The program is divided into three key areas:

  • ReVitalize (access to complimentary professional business consultants)
  • ReNew (access to the latest tech to get online)
  • ReBuild (all the newest info on grants, loans and resources to help small businesses fight the effects of the pandemic)

We identified these critical areas in a recent survey administered by AED, which showed most businesses need access to capital and would spend the cash on technology, consulting and legal assistance. Hence, we designed ReLaunch to meet the needs of Arlington’s small business ecosystem and promote growth, despite the effects of the pandemic.

AED will be accepting rolling applications from eligible Arlington-based businesses from now through Dec. 10, 2021. AED will underwrite costs to build either a website or eCommerce tool and to work directly with a consultant. Businesses will need to pay a small fee after Dec. 31, 2021, to maintain their website and eCommerce tool; however, Arlington County underwrites the development of the solution.

The Service Providers

  • The ReVitalize program is administered by Revby. Revby is an experienced provider of small business consulting services and believes in the importance of businesses’ positive impact on the local community.
  • The ReNew program is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and administered by Nub8. Nub8 is an experienced provider of online services in the cloud and has excellent expertise in helping small businesses launch online.

If you are an eligible small business located in Arlington, Virginia, we encourage you to apply for ReLaunch today. All you need to decide is what service you’d like to receive. For more information visit www.relaunch.business.

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